As I approach the black exterior of the fabulously seductive Blakes Hotel in South Kensington I can not help but feel I’m doing something worthy of a wanton. This bar is the sort of establishment that you would like to have been heard to have been seen – but never actually seen. That would blow your cover. This is the place where passionate affairs rendez-vous. Very dark: red and black it lends itself to an evening of relaxed, yet heavy drinking. Fortunately that’s exactly what Editor Charlotte and I had in mind. With the help of bar tender Zack, we tried, tested and even created a few cocktails over the course of the evening.
The bar itself is intimate, cave-like and equally as dark as the building itself, situated just beyond the restaurant. We do what we always do and perch ourselves on the comfortable bar stools, we then start firing questions at Zack, who appears he can handle all we are throwing at him. We start off with a list and then slowly but surely work our way, merrily through the list. We kick off with a ‘Chinese Mojito’ – which is vanilla vodka, ginger, lemon juice, mint and champagne. This was very ‘me’ and I thought it would be cool, smooth with a bit of fizz from the Champagne. It tasted mainly of vanilla but it was superb and a gentle start to what turned out to be a long and enjoyable evening. Charlotte set the tone for the night with ‘The Rollin Rock’ – which is citrus vodka elder flower, lemon juice and champagne. We both felt this was the ideal aperitif.
A perfect way to commence of evening with friends and good food. We found it sweet with zesty flavours without being too sour. Great palate cleanser too. After this we decided to be adventurous choosing cocktails names ‘Missing Book’ and ‘Eastern Promise’. These were girly cocktails in their entirety, and unique to the house. ‘Missing Book’ consisted of Raspberry vodka, lemon juice , chambord and sugar and ‘Eastern Promise’ contained lime, passion fruit juice, cachasa and brown sugar. And although I’m still trying to work out which book is missing from the former, both were made well and the ingredients worked well together. These suited our girl’s night out occasion very well (even thought we normally stick to champagne).
‘Eastern Promise’ tasted almost three dimensional with the lime cutting through the passion fruit juice beautifully. Ridiculous as it sounds the ‘Missing Book’ served in a martini glass just tasted of ‘pink’. The sheer essence of all things we associate with the soft and feminine colour: roses, rhubarb and hints of whispy candy floss.
After these diverse choices we decided to go crazy and we chose ‘Wake-up Call’ and ‘Matt Bianco’. ‘Wake-up call’ was simply vodka, kahlua and espresso. This was exactly the gentle caffenating we needed after the previous two. It was smooth, rich, creamy and numbing. We sobered up in seconds. Only to have that sobriety obliterated by the dangerous wonder that is ‘Matt Bianco’ more like ‘Pazzo Diavolo’ – crazy devil. This held, vodka, honey and lime huice. Yes, that sounds heavenly. However there is the demonic resence of absinth to send us over the edge.
What a guilty pleasure this little number was! It was then time to put Zack to the test so we asked for bespoke cocktails to be created based on our preferences. We created a gin cocktail for myself which was beautiful but too simple to mention and a spicy number (as we were in a place of fiery seduction) for Charlotte. Which we decided to name ‘Our Lady of Worcester’ as it was bespoke, in every sense, Bloody Mary eat your heart out, this was savoury and packed a punch with the adding of Worcester sauce, a hit with us both. What I loved about this bar was that everyone was friendly and it is off the beaten track. Many people go out in South Kensington but this is a real hidden gem to find. They even recommended entrés to go with our cocktails, which were delicious. For the first time in a long time I was not disappointed that there was no meat involved.
33 Roland Gardens
London SW7 3PF