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Friday, 27 September 2013

INK, Leicester Square

What to think about INK, Professor Green’s funky, kitsch new late-bar/ club? I reckon it would have been right up the 19 year-old me's street. In fact, I'd recommend it to all ages. I'd argue you're never to old to take your hip hop replacement out for a spin on the floor - in this case overseen by a light-up plastic Madonna. That's as in Jesus's old lady, not the put-it-away-love-we've-seen-it-a-million-times-and-we-ain't-interested po-faced pop star, still shaking her auld hoop like her life depends on it.  Word up, laydeez! If you're not flush, spend the £20 cover charge you’ll save by rocking up before 10pm on drinks, then tap some obliging geezer for your next ten. Cocktails are by co-owner Gerry Calabrese of Hoxton Pony renown whose love it/hate it coconut and lemon Hoxton gin appears in a Collins. Otherwise, try Good Times, Doctor Bird and West End Cooler at a party room that’s set to pull a cooler crowd than the West End’s glamma girl/ tea bag tan TOWIE wannabe haunts. If you're peckish, there's a hit'n'miss pick'n'mix selection of 'British tapas' to dribble down the front of your expensive silk frock. Ham hock topped by poached duck egg (£9.50), cod - battered in Professor G’s own-brew ale, Remedy - with chips, and foraged mushroom tortellini are fair. Tarted-up baked beans on toast, steep at £8.50, and over-salted braised beef and gloopy garlic potato puree in a ‘pie and mash’ assembly what I'd expect on an economy class airline tray, only here presented in a tricksy mini copper pot. Music, I'm utterly amazed to say, sounded 75% familiar to my lugholes. Old Heaven/ Hacienda boys can and will still live it large on Leicester Square
1 Leicester Square WC2H 7NA 7287 015


The Punch Room and The Bar at Berners Tavern , Fitzrovia

'We have a nightclub too,' says a chap who introduces himself as the Edition London's 'human traffic manager,' conjuring up all sorts of disturbing images. He promptly sets about trafficking us to the basement of Ian Schrager's new project, a reboot of the old Berners Street Hotel. There was a time when any mention of  Schrager would have had me peeing my pants - assuming I'd been wearing any under vintage 501s, which nobody did, back in my youth. Call me blasé, but no nightclub will ever compare to Schrager's right-place-right-people-right-decade temple to hedonism, Studio 54. The Box? Cirque le Soir? Not.Even.Close. Nowadays, sadly, I'm less interested in what the DJ is playing (funky soul I actually recognise, since you ask), more intrigued by the club's acoustic glass; a product so effective, it totally isolates all bump and thump. In any other area of Edition London, no one can hear you scream "Le Freak, c'est Chic!" Trafficked back upstairs, we investigate the hotel's buzzy lobby bar and the bar at Berners Tavern (pictured). A handsome beast set in a vast baroque ballroom, it suggests a grand brasserie on les grands boulevards de Paree. Well-meaning but sluggish service allows us time to contemplate walls hung with acres of artworks that are, by turns, cool and edgy, or so howlingly naff they might be a job lot liberated from the railings of Kensington Gardens last Sunday. Drinks - similar to what you'll find at Berners Tavern's executive chef Jason Atherton's Blind Pig bar in Soho - get equally mixed reviews. Absolutely smashing (a cider brandy and peach liqueur cup) absolutely is but, served in a metal julep cup, corn on the cobbler (whiskey, orange Curacao, Oloroso sherry and sweetcorn syrup) could be iced Lemsip. When I discover there's a Vogue party going on in a more intimate bar off the lobby (VIP room whore, moi?), I abandon plans to sample Tanqueray-based Dill or No Dill and a fix called Mead Myself and Aye - ludicrously noncey libations no bloke who is serious about his image should be caught dead with. By the time we locate The Punch Room, the Vogue birds have flown the coop. The connoisseur’s choice, this chic, fumed oak-panelled hush bar is almost Calvinist in its simplicity (that's Calvin as in 16th century Proddy, but it could equally be as in Schrager's old pal, Mr Klein). The vibe reminds me of an airport VIP lounge (And no, I haven't always flown scum class, you cheeky git!) 
Killer cups to share include Oxford sherbet punch laced with autumnal dark spirits; and a silky, clear milk number that borrows from American barkeep legend Jerry Thomas’s original 19th century recipe (combining arrack, Somerset cider, cognac, rum, green tea, lemon, pineapple and spices). Service is seamless as you'd expect of any gaff run by Davide Segat, formerly at The Bulgari. Embarrasingly, at first, I do not recognise him despite having met him several times. No offence signor; I'm notoriously rubbish when it comes to faces. I'm the numpty, after all, who, as a precocious child at Schrager's 54, asked someone vaguely familiar if she was the hat check girl at a West Village bar I had been to a couple of nights previously. 'No, honey' said Miss Donna Summer, smiling sweetly. London Edition? Oo--oooo-oooh, I Feel Love!
London Edition Hotel, 10 Berners Street, W1T 3LF 7781 0000

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Celebrity Juice

Celebrity fragrances are big business. For stars keen to extend their brand, so too, it seems, is having your own beer or spirit. For glampers, this summer’s must-do brew was ale-lovin’ Professor Green’s Remedy, a hit at the singer’s hip new London nightclub, INK. An American-style pale ale (made with 100% British ingredients) it’s available from Signature Brew who also sell Dark Heart, Ed Harcourt’s ‘Edwardian brown ale’ and folk-punk Frank Turner’s Believe. Mancunian rockers Elbow’s Build A Rocket Boys beer, meanwhile, is available at offies nationwide. Other celebs have jumped on the boozy bandwagon. Fashion victims may fancy Dolce & Gabbana’s Martini Gold, and vodkas by Roberto Cavalli and Ed Hardy. Tequila fans might try Cleo Rocos’ fine new Aqua Riva or George Clooney’s super-premium 100% blue agave Casamigos (£68.50). The latter is available at as are Marilyn Manson’s suitably Gothic absinthe, Mansinthe; Pharrell Williams’ girly liqueur, Qream; Old Whiskey River by country legend Willie Nelson; vodkas by Motörhead and P.Diddy (Ciroc); and, in its cult glass skull bottle, Dan Aykroyd’s Crystal Head which, gauging by his live jam at Shoreditch bar NOLA this summer, is sleb juice to get any joint jumping.

Fantasy Celebrity Brands I’d Love To See

Geordie Shore Trampagne; Poire; Cointreauversy by Prince; Geri Halliwell’s Spiced Ginger Whine; David Beckham’s Golden Bols; Henry Holland’s  - Camp ‘arry; Patsy Palmer’s Martini Bianca; Pete Doherty – Babychambles; David Bowie’s Gin Jeanie; Keith Lemoncello. 

Original article appeared in METRO 24.9.13