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Thursday, 14 March 2013

Voltaire, Blackfriars

Located in the bowels of the Crowne Plaza hotel, this new City cocktail and champagne lounge's glitzy decor, oversized furniture and the sort of baroque scatter cushions I imagine are strewn around the Upper Class cabins on Air Dubai, strike me as the sort of thing the Crown Prince of Takijstan might fancy. He'll definitely fancy Volatire's selection of Pommery - the most comprehensive in London, I'm told - and a range of hand-rolled Cubans to be enjoyed on a smoking terrace that turns out to be more of an alleyway that ain't strictly palatial. Off it, kitted out with throne-sized armchairs, day beds, faux fur throws and iPod docking systems, a series of individual converted cellars carry names such 'the Wit', 'the Aphorist' and 'the Host'- the latter aimed at 'social butterflies and gentry with entourage in tow...' or was that 'entourage in TOWIE'? Welcome to Voltaire's USP - 'the vaults.'  Accommodating between 4 and 20 guests, these private cubby holes are 'ideal for fashion shows and hen parties', I learn. Importantly, 'what goes on in the vaults' - anything from City boys getting messy to somebody messing around with somebody else’s missus, I imagine - 'stays in the vaults' claims Voltaire's manager with a knowing wink. I'm squiring somebody else's missus tonight but any hanky panky, in our case, is limited to swapping salacious details of what a gold- digging tramp of our acquaintance has been getting up to with a (happily married) TV show host (whose name must also stay in the vaults, say my lawyers). Cocktails are hit and miss. File a basil and cucumber Hendricks sour (garnished with a trial size face mask from the hotel's spa!) under 'hit'; a chilli and parsley martini, subjectively described as 'All Things Nice, under 'miss.' Attractively presented bar snacks might best be filed under 'comme ci, comme ├ža.'  As far as cocktail bars within a two minute walk of Blackfriars station go, this one is a must; but to paraphrase Voltaire's great creation Candide, if this is truly 'le meilleur des mondes possibles', then I'm Baudelaire. 
19 New Bridge Street EC4 6DB 7438 8054 www.voltairebar.co.uk