Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Chinese Whispers – Part 1

Knowing this story eventually ends with an ode to dim sum, I feel the need to explain how it some how starts in a Parisian cocktail bar. When I write a sentence like this, I fight the urge of my father’s genetic gift.  Not that my dad has a penchant for late night exploits in European bars, but he does specialise in the elongated delivery of an epically long saga of a tale. This one’s for you Dad.

Some smarter students in Paris might call their cheerful corner bistro and a 5 euro bottle a good night out at their local.  I, and my bruised bank balance, must have missed that class. Instead, my girlfriends and I were responsible for a considerable and stable revenue contribution to the fine owners of Prescription Cocktail Club (23 rue Mazarine, Paris, 75006, 01 46 34 67 73). Drink of choice. Every time. Gin Gin Mule.  It’s tart and fresh with just a little warmth from the ginger. Unfortunately, it's also one of those potent drinks which fails to activate an early warning signal and usually catches you and your pronunciation unaware at some point in the evening. One drink often rolled into two, four, more…where, who, why? 
Rob at Prescription Cocktail Club, Paris. The Gin Gin Master. 
It looked like my British summertime friend, Pimms (I like it with a half mix of ginger beer and lemonade so it’s not tooth-achingly sweet) would have to share the summer this year with my close-enough home replica of the Prescription Cocktail Club's Gin Gin Mule:

Recipe - Gin Gin Mule

Muddle together 20 grams of lime juice, 30 grams of simple syrup (dissolved and reduced equal parts sugar and water) and about 6 sprigs of mint. Add a standard measure of gin (or more…) a slurp of ginger beer and ice.  Shake this well and pour over ice in a highball glass before finishing with a little more mint. Dream. 

But alas, it seems my close-enough home replica can wait for now.  A cocktail life-line was thrown my when the team from Prescription Cocktail Club opened a London outpost of their Parisian tripartite (Experimental Cockail Club, Presecription Cocktail Club, Curio Parlour). I feel a little ill in the knowledge that a major component of the bar’s new fit-out was probably bank-rolled by our cocktail consumption in 2010.  I should query whether I in fact have some equity stake in the stairwell carpeting!

The Experimental Cocktail Club Chinatown sits behind a close to unidentifiable door in the middle of Gerrard Street (13A Gerrard Street, London, W1D 5PS).  The bar is nearly identical in intent and feel to it’s Parisian family…staff included…and spreads over three velvet, bare-brick, boho-luxe styled floors.  I would recommend booking ahead for a table, or is that just me and my continued struggle with the physics of a martini glass? The drinks are not the cheapest but they really and consistently are excellent.  I would far prefer to pay 11 or 12 pound for a great cocktail than duck below that for a disappointing concoction of brown sugar crystals and juiceless limes. Again, I think this reasoning sponsored the chandelier on the second floor.

After an entirely predictable night at ECC Chinatown we gorged ourselves, politely of course, on crispy duck and other late night treats at the uninventively titled Crispy Duck (7 Gerrard St
Soho, W1D 5). I respect their clarity of expression and their recognition that vinyl tabletops do not exist in Palaces and Kingdoms. Maybe we just chose it on the safe assumption they specialised in our current craving. 

The crispy duck at Crispy Duck is exactly that. It's good, not great. But sometimes good, en mass, ample hoi sin and "more pancakes, please" is amazing! I am still of the opinion that two girls one duck is an entirely acceptable ratio.  It appears our dining brethren that night didn’t quite concur. Perhaps I should go for something a little more conventional next time.  One girl, one duck.  How are those raised eyebrows now fellow diners? Jealousy…like gluttony…is a sin.

I expect the Crispy Duck may notice a slight peak in their late-night post-hipster cum urban boho customer base (although I'm not sure there is a tick box for this demographic in the census) now that ECC Chinatown has opened just down the road.  The perfect pre-emptive antidote to that gin gin hangover. Uuuurgggh, but that's the next part of my story...

To be continued…

No comments: