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Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Redemption, Notting Hill

The fates once conspired to land me a stretch in Los Angeles. That's 'stretch' as in incarceration, not limo. Having not yet learned to drive, too poor to afford a chauffeur, marooned in a city where wheels were an essential and public transport was for bums, bag ladies, rapists, axe-murderers, I'd spend my days trapped indoors with All My Children (ABC's now-defunct super-silly-soap) before the adults came home to liberate me, ferrying me along forever freeways to the latest 'happening' hangout in Brentwood, Burbank or Beverley Hills aka Millionheirhead Central. To a liquor-lovin' London lad, LA bar-hopping was a bore for, aeons before the mucky trend jumped the pond, Californian locals had gone loco for lo-Cal no-alc' cocktails: "mocktails." A tiki colada made with Malibu in Malibu was no longer the thing. Having, overnight, ditched his martini habit, my American born-again fitness freak friend (who would later, ironically, end up at both A.A. and N.A.) was a convert to Spirulina and Wheatgrass, a combo even less entertaining than ITV's Rosemary And Thyme. 
Fast forward to August 2015: having trialled the concept at pop-ups in Hackney and Holborn, Redemption's owner Catherine Salway has launched the country's 'first alcohol-free bar' (didn't they say say that about Saf in Shoreditch amongst others?), bringing the likes of ‘Apple mock-jito’ and ‘Beet-o-tini’ to Bayswater. Purely in the interests of research, I  try 'Lettuce Spray' (pulped iceberg leaves, wasabi, lime, cucumber and aloe vera juice) from her list of just six mocks. Problemo: they are fresh out of fresh aloe vera which, I recall from my LA sojourn, guards against gout, gastritis, gangrene and every grim condition goingHaving specifically said how much I LOATHE coconut water, the bar's Dutch manager insists a green staffer, still in his salad days, fix my liquidised green salad using er, coconut water. "Don't worry! It'll be delicious." It is... in the same way the leftover contents of my fridge's 'Sta-Krisp' salad drawer are delicious after losing a fight with a NUTRIBULLET ®. "It's got absolutely no kick" I protest. "It needs more wasabi" opines Herr Holland, tasting it, not offering to make another, and charging me full whack for his wack, bastard imposter. Amsterdam Man's glowing pink skin - Clarins campaign-worthy - is surely down to his strict veggie diet? "No, I love meat."  Mmm me too.... and booze! Add a double slug of tequila to mask the taste of coconut water, his 'Coco-rita' could be a half-decent margarita. As the late-great Dean Martin said, 'I feel sorry for people who don't drink. When they wake up in the morning, that's as good as they are going to feel all day.' That said, Salway's baby will fly: God knows there are enough gullible Gwynnie-Goop-swallowing bikram yoga-buff breadsticks in Notting Hill to support her mission to 'spoil yourself without spoiling yourself.' Me? Spoiled for choice in terms of nearby liquor lounges, I am, alas, beyond Redemption. 
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