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Thursday, 29 January 2015

The Cocktail Trading Co. Development Bar and Table, Soho

The name is a mouthful. So too, in a tastier way, this new dive's dandy drinks. Crammed to capacity, just days after opening - "That's because they've got a great PR" quips the bar's star media massager, Anne Kapranos - tonight, the basement's 50-strong crowd of self-evidently satisfied soaks does not include Ed Burstell, MD of Liberty across the street. Phew! The main turn in Channel 4's highly watchable fly-on-the-wall TV series/ extended advertisement for the creaky old pile may be an affable sort, but the spindly American Mister Ed (the Talking Clothes Horse) gives me the pure heebie-jeebies. A modern-day Childcatcher, camp and slightly creepy in black duds by Dior, he loomed large in a particularly disturbing nightmare I once had that also involved Gok Wan and Mary Portas, and saw me wake up, gasping, convinced I was being strangled by a Paisley-print silk scarf. (Make of this what you will, Dr. Freud!) Cocktail Trading Co, on the other hand, is a discerning drinker's wet dream. Run as an 'ethical co-operative' by a trio of joshing patter merchants - friendly faces you'll likely recognise from London Cocktail Club and Steam and Rye is likely to succeed where others such as its immediate predecessor - the conceited 'no-brands' concept that was "And Co" - failed. Why? Because the raffish, retro wood-panelled pit is "Ding Dong" as Leslie Phillips would put it and £8 is a steal for real-deal drinks such as my deftly dispatched boulevardier or the solid gold sazerac that follows it. Fresh ingredients and attention to detail are part of the package. And while I'm more likely to snog not-half-as-sharp-as-she-thinks, oboxious ogre in a Worzel Gummidge wig, Katie Hopkins, than lock lips with jokey ideas such as Tu-Whit-Tu-Whoo-Woo - vodka, lemon, peach, sage, cranberry and prosecco served, tiki-style, in a red owl mug coiffed with pink candy floss - if wacky is your bag, it's done here with wit, style and substance. No more so, than in the guise of a Jim Beam, yuzu, ginger, plum and matcha tea Shanghai sour (pictured). Sipped through straws disguised as chopsticks, served in a waxed noodle container, garnished with a mound of the sort of Chinese chow Nancy Lam would wham bam your way, it's doable as well as dippy. Dippy, Cocktail Trading Co's sussed owners are decidedly not but you'd be daft to miss a production that will hopefully outrun Cats, Lord Wibbly-Wobbly's steaming pile of caterwauling crap that is, unfathomably, still pulling them in by the charabanc-load at The Palladium next door.
22 Great Marlborough Street W1F 7HG 7427 6097