("Whip it! Whip it good.") The theme at this new cocktail spot above The Running Horse, a handsome Georgian tavern in M...
Thursday, 15 August 2013
The Toy Shop Bar, Putney
As a nipper, I loathed toy shops. They were strictly for sissies. Places where our neighbours' brat Pamela 'Princess-in-pink' Prentiss could indulge her serious horse habit. Me? I'd have happily made mincemeat of My Little Pony. Why, even today, I'm still partial to the occasional horse burger and frites whenever I'm en Belgique. Christmas? Ritual humiliation. Had I known about Esther Rantzen's Childline; I'd have shopped dandruffy Donald from Dundee, employed at one of Edinburgh's grand department stores throughout December. Back in Jimmy Savile's heyday, it was deemed absolutely fine that a grubby old man, who normally spent his days hanging around the bus station bogs, be given carte blanche to stroke infant flesh right under its blissfully innocent mother's' nose. "If you promise to be a good boy, you'll get a nice a surprise from Santa's sack" - the 'surprise', under his grubby red frock coat, the now rock hard tumescence protruding from said sack. Had he been hot, like Billy Bob Thornton, the Bad Santa experience might have been acceptable. A Spacehopper? Subutteo? A Hornby Inter City train set in my Christmas stocking? Not interested. I wanted to be boarding the real thing, King's Cross-bound, for a King's Road boutique adventure where I'd surely bump into George Best and supercool Sandie Shaw. So, the prospect of schlepping to a bar called The Toy Shop, over the bridge at the arse end of King's Road, doesn't exactly have me bouncing off the walls like wee Harry high on Haribo. Fortunately, any Hamley's hamminess is reined in at the new Putney kidult's playpen, decked out in acid drop brights like a psychedelic soda fountain. "Fun and Thrills" shouts a lurid neon above a back bar jammed with retro robots...at least, I think they were robots; I was too busy laughing at the staff uniform. Cool dudes in navy Oompa-Loompa-style aprons? More toy shop humiliation. Despite their daft names and Willie Wonka garnishes, cocktails such as clubland à la Polly Pocket, one typically jokey Jackanory wheeze that counts ‘sweets-infused sherry’, chocolate cigarettes and lemon sherbet amongst its ingredients, are pretty good. After a quick briefing, Action Man behind the bar has got my number. His suggestions - professor’s negroni using artichoke aperitif Cynar rather than Campari (it's a trend), and a bee pollen margarita. Potent fig-infused whisky old fashioned (£9) is the sort of plaything I'd have had in mind, aged 5, if only I'd known that Compass Box is not in fact, a totally pointless compass in a boring box.