The Charles - a brandy and sweet vermouth-based number I've enjoyed in numerous drinking dens - is a prince among cocktails. In honou...
Thursday, 11 July 2013
Aqua Shard, London Bridge
(Huh? You want to see pictures? Go buy a drink and see for yourself, cheapskate!)
"EEEEH! I can't wait for you to take me up the Shard" squeals excited highest-high-rise-in-town virgin. "That could be a line from Carry on Cruising had that camp caper been set in a Vauxhall orgy room," I say. But 31 stories up, across the lobby from Oblix - "the restaurant that nobody is raving about" as ES mag's restaurant critic assassinated it - assassins and orgy rooms are the vibe I'm getting at Aqua Shard - all 1990s Manhattan power-tower, hard-edged, shiny-sleek-and-angular. So darkly lit is it by night, I expect to rub Armani shoulders with Patrick Bateman among the assembled suits . "The barmen have complained they can't see properly" says a staffer peering at me in the gloaming. "Pay them in carrots? Issue Davy lamps?" I offer, helpfully. Of course, what Patrick really came for, is a vista that reminds him of his old stomping ground. Londoners haven't yet grown as blasé as New Yorkers about ogling their city, spread out like Toytown, from on high. I still get a thrill seeing London from its new breed of sky-lounges. I do, however manage to keep my cool and not point excitedly and whoop, as one Shardy novice does tonight, "Look! I can just about make out my Nan's street in West Ham." Not that I had a 'Nan', let alone one unfortunate enough to live in that exotic burb. I am marvelling at a Lilliputian Tower Bridge far below, all the while being schmoozed in one ear by Aqua S's chatty Neapolitan bar manager, a simpatico sort who can shoot the breeze about shit other than drinks, thankfully. But after 30 minutes, my throat now as dry as manager Manuel's hometown in July, I'm going American Psycho for a drink. Fortunately, I have no axe to grind with Signor Chattisimo's martinis. These killers are well worth the wait. Aztec Tinez, despite its dubious name, is a fine Olmeco blanco and chocolate tea bitters twist on a martinez. Top call at £14, old times revival, works too - unlikely as Tanqueray 10, olive grappa, green walnut liqueur, Benedictine, Kümmel, Tio Pepe and artichoke sound as glass-mates. I'd unreservedly urge you to take yourself yourself up The Shard - I imagine Ann Summers has a suitable toy - if only for a rinse and a butcher's. As for a loo with a view; pointing Percy at the porcelain and peeing on Peckham? Talk about piss elegance! That's a term I'd also apply to our patchy Mod Brit dinner. Let's just leave it at... tricksy....and too many ingredients fighting for attention on one plate, maybe?