Renowned for its mouth-watering Indian cuisine and central London location, I took a long overdue potter down to Mint Leaf to see if their mixologists had as much pizazz as their chefs.
Down a steep set of stairs and past Mint Leaf’s blackened reception area is a sleek, modern cocktail lounge where the seeds to a fabulous night can be sewn. A cosy collection of black leather couches and low rise tables are positioned to the right of this sophisticated space, giving guests the option of settling at intimate seating out of earshot. Centre stage is the bar; which stocks hundreds of bottles containing everything from Kahlua to £1000 whiskey, meaning that the mixologists can make just about any cocktail under the sun. Although the venue is predominately draped in black, splashes of colour are emitted from the purple LED lights behind the bar and the cream bar stools lining the counter.
Surveying Mint Leaf’s detailed, quirky cocktail menu, the first of the night’s cocktails opened with the Tikki Takka; a sweet combination of Frangelico, Chairmen Spice Rum, chilli syrup and pineapple juice. This bad boy comes served in a whacky, hollow tribal head with fresh chilli as a garnish. Although I guzzled down this expertly shaken bevy, it was the subsequent In Love with The Coco that completely stole my heart. This was a beautiful mix of Ciroc Coconut, 43 Liquor, Lime and Sugar juice with a splash of pineapple juice. It's probably the juiciest on offer, and is notorious for refreshing summer palates.
Juicy cocktails well out of the way, my friend and I moved onto something a little bit stronger in the form of the Woody Haleine. The process of making this cocktail means smoking Balveine 14 with oak wood then adding peychaud bitters and oak wood syrup. Served on the rocks and in a dipping dog - which is a brass tube used for stealing small quantities of whiskey back in the day - the whiskey gives off a satisfying vanilla flavour perfectly complimented by the oak wood. With a taste for whiskey firmly established, we braved the Death in the Afternoon. The name of this deadly concoction might be used to warn off light weights, but it’s definitely worth trying. Four layers of Chambord, vodka and lemon juice, champagne and absinthe sit on top of each other offering a strong and luxurious tipple.
Ready to sign off for the night, we sampled the Sazerac, probably not a drink made for the light hearted, and an Espresso Martini. Every cocktail lived up to Mint Leaf's excellent reputation, and each was shaken up using the best ingredients on the market.
Clientele and Atmosphere:
Arriving at 7pm, Mint Leaf's cocktail lounge was dotted with professionals delving into signature cocktails. After two or three they all seemed to filter out, leaving the majority of people enjoying traditional Indian cuisine in the restaurant area. With unseasonably warm temperatures outside I presume many people opted to catch some vitamin D, but regardless of weather, Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights welcome large crowds, many dancing to the rhythm of the venue’s DJ.
Mint Leaf draws a glamorous crowd opting for top quality food and drinks, making it the ideal venue to surprise or impress someone special. Whilst the after work crowd were sipping on their cocktails the place was buzzing with chat and laughter and I can only imagine that this is multiplied come the weekend.
Finding a place to retreat in comfort near the West End can be a ruddy nightmare, especially if you’re on the hunt for a drink or bite to eat before the theatre. Mint Leaf offers the perfect solution, with innovative drinks and mouth-watering cuisine, not to mention a peaceful escape from the rowdy streets above.