I’m a sucker for a cocktail - give me anything excessively garnished, brightly coloured, or in a fancy glass and I’m happy. So when I heard that popular London cocktail brand Mr Fogg's, inspired by the fabled adventures of Around the World in Eighty Days’ Phileas Fogg, had an immersive bar within their arsenal of gin parlours, botanicals and taverns, I was only too eager to check it out - especially when I heard about its most recent transformation into a tropical oasis for their safari-themed cocktail experience...
Nestled just off the Strand, Mr Fogg's Society of Exploration is a treasure trove of Victorian trinkets, plush furniture and memorabilia from the mythical explorer’s travels. The spot was also adorned with a number of vines and exotic flowers, draped curtains and safari-clad waiters to tie in with the safari-themed cocktail experience on offer. Greeted by our charming guide for the evening, we were led to our table - a twee nook inside a Victorian-themed train carriage. As first impressions go, they’d hit the nail on the head. The attention to detail was spot on, right down to the pith helmets, safari hats and quirky binoculars they were handing out to visitors.
After taking in the novel factor, aka taking a lot of photos, an equally theatrical survival kit cocktail experience (£30 each) arrived, filled with a number of eccentric goodies. Highlights included a stack of cinnamon sticks that our guide lit on arrival, giving off a sweet aroma, an edible pile of spicy white powder intended as our ‘mosquito repellent’, a rum-infused cup of ‘suntan lotion’ and, because you can’t escape all the critters in the sub-Saharan outback, actual dehydrated mealworms… all followed by a trusty G&T - a patriotic staple for our thirsty work. Not your usual weekday dinner but I’d definitely count eating bugs - bushtucker trial style - as one of my more memorable meals.
Accompanied by two tasty cocktails from the bespoke Big 5 menu, it’s easy to see how Mr Fogg's has gained a reputation for itself and its drinks. My top pick has to be The Lion Sleeps Tonight, a delicious gin, lemon wine and gooseberry concoction, whilst the Feline Fine, a dry and potent gin, maple and physalis syrup beverage, was perhaps a little too sour for my taste. Their signature cocktails are a spectacle in themselves - even without the creepy crawlies - and deserving of an honourable mention. Taking my tour guide’s sound advice I opted for the Valley of Silence (£12), a gin, sake and egg white concoction, and found myself - slightly sacrilegiously - sipping from a Tibetan prayer bowl.
The DesignMyNight Digest
Whilst the summertime safari menu is unfortunately no longer available, the permanent theatrical venue is reason enough to head down for a light-hearted evening of escapist fun. Will Mr Fogg’s Society of Exploration become my new midweek regular? Probably not - I’m more of a pub kind of gal. But would I recommend it for a memorable night out? 100%.