There stands a mutual understanding between any born and bred Londoner (as well as those with an ounce of taste and an inherent dislike for large crowds), that Leicester Square is best avoided at all costs. Renowned for its overpriced chain restaurants, lary ticket touts and pick pockets by bucket load, there seems little to redeem this wildly commercial West End spot. Yet, only a hop, skip and a jump from the glowing lights of the Angus Steakhouse, nestled quietly beneath a somewhat overbearing theatre advertisement, there lies a marvellous cove of hard liquor and high spirits. Covent Garden Cocktail Club? I just had to take a look.
Guarded by an understated placard and a short set of stairs, the debaucherous descent into Covent Garden Cocktail exists as a possibility unbeknown to the majority of passers by. It's subtley is wildly alluring, a charm matched only by it's interior stylings; we make our way downstairs and find ourselves immersed in a grotto of colonial stylings and deep hues, with bottle green chesterfields scattered across expansive rugs and battered floorboards. I'm no stranger to underground caverns of bad behaviour, but this one sure is pretty.
The Atmosphere & Clientele:
Stood at the bar, we settled ourselves among the denizens of debauchery, many of whom are regulars to this West End cocktail bar. The atmosphere is nothing short of electric. We arrive on a Wednesday evening to find the night in full swing; a charismatic pianist tickles the ivories to deliver a high energy roster of classics, whilst the bar tenders put on quite the performance behind the bar.
As a members only bar, the clientele is somewhat limited to those whose personality allows for forward planning; the entry policy also served the double purpose of ensuring that the loutish behaviour typical of some of the more boisterous party hangouts of Leicester Square was kept far at bay. That said, there remained a definite buzz throughout our visit: gaggles of girls wiggle their way though the party soundtrack, whilst the bar staff showcased their fire-fuelled tricks to an awe-struck crowd.
Our ever so charming mixologist kept us well watered throughout our visit, confidently accepting any and all challenges thrown his way. 'Set something on fire', we cried; a demand met with a boozy shower, as a flaming glass of Wray & Nephew's was smashed the ceiling, matched only by the countering force of an ice bucket flung skyward.
We began our evening with two glasses of their London Cocktail Week special, a heady glass of the La Familla that masterfully blends Bacardi Superior rum, passion fruit syrup, fresh lemon juice, D.O.M Benedictine with a splash of absinthe. This was followed by what was promised to be their 'most elaborate garnish': we were delivered a Fortune Cookie, a spicier choice that delicately mixed Beefeater 24 gin, cherry Marnier, passion fruit and lime juice with a dash of Tabasco and Angostura bitters to showcase a subtle blend of fruity and bitter flavourings. The icing on this wonderfully alcoholic cake was the fortune cookie garnish that lay upon the mountain of ice.
A good looking cove of alcoholic activity and a wildly raucous palace of pleasure, Covent Garden Cocktail Club impressed on all fronts. The bar stands as a platform for master mixologists to showcase their talents, whipping up a boozy storm of exhibition and heady delight. If it's cracking cocktails and an electric atmosphere that you're after, you've found your safe haven.