Monday, October 30, 2006

Bar recon crawl

My mission tonight - that I'd chosen to accept - was to check out possible venues for a client Christmas party ably assisted by a glamorous assistant. Clearly there's a lot to choose from in London but I'm really rather fussy (and I'm not just talking about my tomato avoidance tactics here). The place has got to be big enough to accommodate everyone comfortably but not so big that we either have to share with others or we rattle around too much. I like an exclusive and strictly no gatecrashers!

There has to be enough comfy seating so that those who want to can relax and chat and those who like to lurk around the bar not too far from the next cocktail can. Also it's easier to mingle and see everyone you want to see if there's only one level and not lots of cosy little cubbyholes to secrete yourself away in. Snug little corners are great for a few friends or romantic intrigues but not so good for client entertaining. There has to be some seriously tasty nibbley canapés. I don't want a buffet or anything that involves cutlery, but gorgeous little tidbits. Ideally sausages have to feature on the menu and extra points are scored if it's sausages and mash!

The toilets have to be clean, fresh smelling and ideally devoid of insulting nomenclature on the doors. The décor needs to be welcoming, not to shabby but not über cool. I want it to be modern yet comfortable and if there's a real fireplace that deserves loads of extra points as H always had that as one of her requirements! I want the festive season to be acknowledged but tastefully with maybe a few white pin lights and entirely without inflatable fripperies or things that sing!

Of course location is critical also. What's the point of a fine, funky place if it's in deepest, darkest somewhere that no one wants to travel all that way to and there's no easy access to a homebound black cab.

With all that said the fine people at Top Table (well Laura to be exact!) helped me wade through my extensive rquirements and suggest four possibles to investigate, hence the reconnaissance trip tonight.

The first port of call was Detroit near Covent Garden. This is definitely a lounge for velvet-clad lizards to sip cocktails and nod appreciatively to the cool sounds whilst cosily ensconced in some curvaceous walled hideaway. And that was really the only problem, too many little nooks and crannies.

Then it was to the chocolate brown and leather-seated gentlemen's club opposite Selfridges’s food hall rather catchily called Sequoia @ Ruby Lo. Sequoia has a nice square room all on one level and extra points H, a real fireplace! It looks just like a big front room if your front room accommodated over 200 happy, cocktail swilling partygoers. After sampling their sausages, lip tingling Merguez to be exact, we grabbed a cab in search of Zebrano off Carnaby Street. Zebrano looked interesting with pleasing light wood panelled walls and comfy seating. Though it may be on two levels but we couldn't tell by pressing our noses on the window as they're having some sort of refurbishment and one of the backs walls seemed to somewhat missing. Probably best if we leave that one out of the equation, as it's not clear when they'll be full to the brim of beautiful people again.

Our last port of call was the house of über trendy and exotic cocktails - lab (London academy of bartending, don't you know) on Old Compton Street. I've actually been to lab, I've had a couple of fabulous gingery cocktails on previous visits to their hallowed place and witnessed the bar staff doing their clever fire throwing/breathing acts. I’ve even got the stylish Shaken and Stirred cocktail book written by their bartender Douglas Ankrah. I like lab, it is a great cocktail bar but it is on two levels which rather annoying means two parties, they don't have many seats and they rely a little too much on precarious barstools for the ones they do have. I think it's a place to have a wonderful cocktail but not to linger. And finally the gender identifier on the toilet doors are 'bitches' and 'bastards'! Hmmm, points deducted I'm afraid!

So the rather bizarrely named Sequoia @ Ruby Lo it is then. Exotic ruby coloured Raspberry & Vanilla Martini cocktail in a cosy chocolate brown sitting room, anyone?

< Look at real fireplace!


RooKnits said...

you always throw a fab party J, I'm sure it will be fab!

Anonymous said...

I'm mightily impressed you managed to blog after such a venue-packed evening. If I had tried to publish such coherent thoughts, that last Very Berry cocktail would have made it extremely difficult.
Your (not that glamourous)assistant!