Cocktails at The Bloomsbury Club, The Bloomsbury:
I’m something of a fan of the Bloomsbury. In addition to the stunning Dalloway Terrace where you can enjoy brunch, the hotel as a whole has a quintessentially English charm about it. That, of course, includes an Alice in Wonderland type maze of corridors with rooms off where someone with my kind of sense of direction (none) is likely to find themselves going round in ever increasing circles. Despite not having had a single drink, it took me some time to actually find The Bloomsbury Club, which I’d imagined to be a private area for residents of the hotel. As I discovered, it isn’t – just a rather intimate space on the lower ground floor which has all the appearance and charm of a Victorian gentleman’s club. A fine setting to enjoy some themed cocktails and bar snacks!
In addition to a rather charming list of wines and spirits (I’ll be back for the Mandarin Napoleon 1960 and might also be tempted by the Perrier-Jouet Blason Rose), there’s a short list of ‘club bites’ which include one of my favourite British charcuterie boards (Trealy Farm), potted brown shrimps, burrata di Puglia and truffle fries. And there’s a great range of cocktails – a ‘time honoured’ list of classics and a themed set of cocktails which are for the most part a twist on classics too.
We started the evening, as I believe one should always do, with a champagne cocktail, a Roger Fry (£13) – Courvoisier VSOP, Angostura and Perrier Jouet. It’s the sort of cocktail I’d probably drink all evening given half a chance. My excuse, that champagne based cocktails do less damage might have little foundation in reality, but once I’ve had one, I really don’t care!
I’d actually expected to stay for an hour or so and to taste a couple or perhaps three cocktails and have a little bar food.
Instead we worked our way through samples of a further nine cocktails. Gentle reader, we did only have tasters – but it ended up being something of a heady concoction of spirits and I’m rather suprised that ANY of the later photos are in focus as, apart from the fact we’d moved to the cosy but rather dark outside terrace, the effect of alcohol on my limited camera skills is usually very noticable.
Our second cocktail was named Vanessa Bell and based on a ‘Something Gorgeous’. One of the prettiest drinks of the evening, this one apparently was inspired by Vanessa’s various love affairs with members of the Bloomsbury set, including both Roger Fry and Duncan Grant, who gave his name to the third cocktail . This one, based on ‘On a Toot’ comprises Chivas Regal 12yr, Byrr, Maraschino and Orange Bitters.
Bar snacks were very welcome at this point. I seem to remember eating a lot of the fries…and a couple of fingers of the serrano ham club.
Gentle reader we continued with three more cocktails and a further selection of bar snacks. I particularly liked the Virgina Woolf, made with Number 3 Gin, lemon, raspberry shrub, cochi americano and egg white, so you’ll find the recipe at the end of this post.
I have to admit that by this stage, I was feeling just a little overwhelmed. Desmond MacCarthy, based on Theda Bara, was probably a good move. A light, long cocktail before we all moved outside.
The Terrace, where we enjoyed tastes of a further four cocktails and some more bar snacks, is something of a fairytale setting, with trailing ivy, twinkling lights, comfy cushions and plenty of rugs to wrap up in.
The Bar team were still going strong, mixing yet more fabulous cocktails for us to try. This one, E.M. Forster, based on a ‘High Society’ is Haymans Old Tom Gin, Plymouth Sloe Gin and Orange – a heady mixture indeed.
This kind of hedonistic evening seemed entirely appropriate in the setting of The Bloomsbury Club. I definitely drank more than I would normally do – and ate plenty of delicious bar food. But, the Bloomsbury Set, a group of English writers, philosphers and artists who met between 1907 and 1930 in the same part of London that the hotel is based, would have done something similar, albeit more probably in their own homes.
Cocktails are priced between £10 and £13 and bar snacks start at a reasonable £4 for those incredibly moreish truffle fries. If you’d like to try making one of the cocktails at home, you’ll find the recipe for the Virginia Woolf below. But, I’d recommend making your way to The Bloomsbury Club where someone else can do all the hard work for you!
With many thanks to the Bloomsbury Club for their hospitality
The Bloomsbury Club
16-22 Great Russell Street