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Monday 10 September 2012

Cocktail Hour: Bar Americain at Brasserie Zedel

The Bar Américain at Brasserie Zédel is my new favourite secret/not really a secret location for cocktail drinking in London. It's fun pretending it's a secret though: first push your way past the tourists at Piccadilly Circus, turn down the unassuming Sherwood Street and by-pass all the after-work drinkers spilling out onto the street, go through some fairly anonymous looking doors, down a sweeping staircase and suddenly you find yourself in the fabulous Art Deco surroundings of Brasserie Zédel. This underground venue is great for making out you're spies on a mission or secret lovers, rather than just being in search of a good drink.

It's like a little underground city. There's the bustling brasserie, all marble columns and French charm, as well as small space for cabaret-style performances and, finally, the gorgeous walnut-clad interior of the Bar Américain. The interior is entirely original - it was decorated in the 1930s when it was part of a glamorous hotel. I've heard rumours that it was used for wild parties after the hotel closed. I do hope so - this space was made for socialising.

The Bar is dark and atmospheric, except for the period-style lit dramatic columns in the centre of the room and small table lamps, and the decor positively encourages hot gossip and confidences. Whoever worked on the renovation did an excellent job - everything from the branding on the menu to the gorgeous Casablanca-style aeroplane wallpaper is just so. In fact, the only thing that lets down the decor is the modern clientele. You can't help feeling that twenty-first century dressing doesn't quite cut it in such opulent surroundings.

It's not the most extensive of menus but it's certainly enough to help you merrily pass an evening. There's quite a lot of strong flavouring going on in the menu, the kind of old school cocktail flavouring made for manly drinking, you know the sort that put hairs on your chest as well as colour in your cheeks. My favourites were the Spritz Americain, a refreshing goblet of champagne, lemon juice, grapefruit liqueur and bitters, and the Belle Zédel, a melt-in-the-mouth mix of vodka, crème de myrtille, rose liqueur, lemon juice, rhubarb bitters and egg white with a garnish of blueberries.

I didn't eat in the Brasserie but next time I go back I definitely will: it's only £11.95 for their three course prix fixe menu. Amazing value in central London and especially good when compared to their (not unreasonably priced) cocktails which are £9.50 each. It felt like I'd really spoilt myself at the end of the evening but yet my purse remained relatively unharmed, a winning formula for a bar in my book.

I'm already plotting my possible reasons for returning. Please can someone provide me with a secret drinking assignation?

1 comment:

  1. I love the sound of this place *adds to list for London visit*


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