An exclusive drinking den in the heart of Fitzrovia – Vijay’s at Lokhandwala:
Vijay’s Bar & Lounge, tucked away up a small staircase on London’s Charlotte Street, above Indian restaurant Lokhandwala, was inspired by an infamous Mumbai gangster Vijay. A real hidden gem, the perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of London’s busy streets, it is reservation only and modelled on the ‘speakeasy’ lounge above the Tea Rooms in Lokhandwala where Vijay Kapur used to meet his associates – and hold decadent parties. The design is based on an old photo that was found in the estate of Lady Charlotte Louisa Fitzrovia, who eloped with Vijay and was outcast from the family by her father, the fourth Earl of Rockbourne. I did wonder if perhaps Charlotte Street was named in her honour, but according to Wiki it was actually formed in 1763, and named in honour of Queen Charlotte who married King George III in 1761
This intimate colonial era styled cosy bar has a distinct feel of a private members club with opulent dark red walls and an ornate gold fireplace, mirror and gilt gold curtains to match, plus a striking silver elephant, a nod towards the venue’s Indian culture. Excitingly, the lounge also leads on to a hidden outdoor terrace, which makes it an ideal spot for alfresco drinking in the warm summer months we are all longing for.
The small bar hosts a fine array of glistening spirit bottles and a cocktail menu to match. The drinks menu comprises an extensive list of wines, cocktails and premium spirits – from high-quality champagnes to Japanese Whiskies ensuring there’s something to sate all tastes. Floral syrups and Indian spices play a prominent role throughout the menu, with the likes of rose and lavender syrup featuring in the drinks, along with spices – fennel seed, star anise and fresh coriander.
Barman Mario, who has created an exciting menu of individual cocktails with a real personal touch, looked us after very well.
On Mario’s recommendation, I kicked off with a Spice Route. I was not disappointed with this tastily spiced bittersweet rum cocktail which was extremely morish, it was made with Sailor Jerry spiced rum infused with red saffron, Chamomile Infused Cointreau, Liquore Strega, Anise Syrup, Cinnamon Syrup and Goji Berries Bitter – divine!
My friend ordered Like a Bird, which was very aptly named as it was served in a divine glass bird, perched on a velvet cushion in a pretty ornate birdcage. It combined Bombay Saphire gin, organic white wine, blood orange purée, peach liqueur, Orgeat and fresh lemon which gave it a fragrant yet bitter and refreshing taste that wouldn’t be out of place on a hot summers day.
We went on to enjoy the Star of India – a delightful gin-based cocktail with delicious herbaceous and fruit flavours made with Star of Bombay wonder herb, infused with mango and orange, turmeric marmalade, fresh lemon, cassis and Indian tonic.
And The Saint – St George’s Terroir gin with elderflower, maple syrup, fresh lemon and maple bitters this was floral, light and lemony.
We accompanied our cocktails with a couple of delicious bar snacks. The Tiki – small patties with layers of tastily spiced almonds, beetroot, goats cheese, potatoes and cauliflower chaat. And the Vepudu Tac – with radish, cauliflower and sea bass on delicately spiced crispy potatoes skins.
I am truly delighted to have discovered this little hideaway and will be sure to come back with friends to enjoy this exclusive drinking den with its sumptuous interior, unique cocktails and Indian inspired snacks.
Vijay’s Lounge promises to be Fitzrovia’s newest treasure.
Vijay’s Lounge at Lokhandwala
93 Charlotte St,
London W1T 4PY