The Charles - a brandy and sweet vermouth-based number I've enjoyed in numerous drinking dens - is a prince among cocktails. In honou...
Tuesday, 14 April 2015
Demon And Wise/ The Arbitrager, The City
Hiding behind The Old Lady Of Threadneedle Street's skirts, new bar The Arbitrager is considerably smaller than I imagine the average oligarch's bank vault or Tom Cruise's closet to be. An arbitrager is traditionally a bod who deals in bonds, shares, commodities and the likes. The stock to buy into at this Square Mile bar-ette is liquid gold, as in a dozen or so doable London brews from the likes of Beavertown, Crate and Brixton to slake parched traders' thirsts. "Sold to the man in the bowler hat" for around the price of two shares in Barclays Plc (263p a piece as markets stand today). I'm more interested in investing in what lies below, however. Demon and Wise, the Arb's sister bar in the next door basement specialises in cocktails. When I visit at 9.30pm-ish, 95% of its demob-happy punters have pushed off, probably pished, to catch trains home to Hemel, Horsham, Hatfield and Hell, leaving this steamy (as in overheated) Steampunk Barbarella basement to me, an even older old soak (yes, such vampires do exist) and two simpatico Italian barkeeps - one of whom is clearly barking, having relocated to Barking or some such sad slum from Sardinia, such is Londra's lure in the eyes of the sort of young EUers UKIP would rather we not host. D+W is owned by The Hide, that useful hoochy hole-up in SE1. Prices, however, are more mohair and silk pinstripe than Bermondsey barrow boy at £11 (plus service) for my Monkey Shoulder-based Blood and Sand or a Tapatio Blanco-informed Flamingo from a list that is big on London gin: Portobello Road No.171 the preferred pour in Champagne-informed twisted G and T, Market Maker. Other recipes rope in rare and vintage Armagnac, malt whisky and the likes of Martini Gran Lusso; but at £16 +, such exotica will leave me in the red at Barclays. If only I'd stuck to my first ever job - something in the City - I could have bought this bar fifty times over by now or, like old boy on the next school, be hanging on in there for a gold-plated carriage clock before retiring to watch reruns of Four In A Bed, permanently bladdered in a Broadstairs bungalow.