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Thursday, 23 May 2013

Blind Pig, Soho

When your next door neighbour is Milk and Honey, you're in good company... and up against stiff competition, M and H’s head barman looks pretty satisfied with his cocktail when I spot him parked up at the butch copper-topped bar at chef/ owner Jason Atherton's new cocktail lounge upstairs at Social Eating House. As, based on the evidence of my first rinse of the night, well he might. Despite its iffy name, the ‘Ooh-Arr-Tinez’ - a Somerset cider brandy spin on a martinez - is a success. One barman totally nails a Plymouth dry martini - always a litmus test - where so many others drown the gin in vermouth: wet, wet, wet? Because my name's Marti Pellow? When I stray off menu, however, things  get temporarily wobbly - one enthusiastic soul suggesting vodka as a key component of a smoky mescal old-fashioned. Suggestion declined. Blind Pig owes its name to those American forerunners of the speakeasy where, to outfox the authorities, hucksters would charge a steep admission fee to spectate a (legal) novelty attraction such as a pig or a tiger in a blindfold, plying their guests with complimentary liquor while they were about it. At £9 for The Rosefield (Chase Marmalade vodka, Punt e Mes, apricot brandy and Fernet Branca), the admission price here is about right and the handsome, if not entirely original, room - all 1930s film noir, wood panelled gin joint - looks like the kind of place a femme fatale in a Mickey Spillane novella would meet a hired gun to plot her husbands's demise. I can live without some of the wackier elements on the menu: Skittles-washed Ketel One, pickle brine, popcorn-infused bourbon and choccy alcopops (not all in the same glass, mercifully) aren't high on my agenda; but factor in bar bites such as rillettes, mac'n'cheese, cod brandade and duck fat chips with a├»oli, and I reckon this little piggy will bring home the bacon for his master. 
58 Poland Street W1F 7NR 7993 3251  www.socialeatinghouse.com