WEDNESDAY 04 JANUARY 2012 • A SECOND LONDON COCKTAIL CLUB
A Second London Cocktail Club to Open
When James and JJ won “The Restaurant” series 3, everybody said I was crazy myself. OK, nobody believed JJ was a chef in the making, neither did I – but what the nay-sayers didn’t recognise was that JJ is one of the most talented mixologists in the country. (OK, I would say that, wouldn’t I?) But it’s true. JJ has a genuine creative streak, a real gift for invention and innovation, and, something even rarer, an excellent palate and a precise sense of smell and taste. I hope you will take my word for it when I say that he knows when flavours – even those involving high alcohol content – go together and when they should not be in the same room, let alone in the same cocktail glass.
But actually it is more than that, JJ and James form a cohesive and brilliant team and at all times it was a joy to work with them. The scoffers said it couldn’t be done. They said they’d never do it. Well, they were wrong! Their London Cocktail Club on Goodge Street has been a success from the moment James and JJ opened it. Reviewers put it in their top five London bars. Customers adored its “New York vibes” and its gin-based playfulness (James calls it a “Gin Palace”).
Design My Night has just voted it London Bar of the Year 2011.
Today I can announce that not only have the two guys triumphed on Goodge Street, but that in February they are going to open a second bar, the new London Cocktail Club on Shaftesbury Avenue.
The new one, says James, “is going to be all about rum”. He also tells us to “expect the same level of incredible cocktails and innovative food as well as the party-time, anything-goes atmosphere” but in a different style altogether. The Shaftesbury Avenue bar will “look back to Britain’s naval past and play on things like the design of sailors’ tattoos and the pin-up girls the tars adored.”
“You won't be able to miss our entrance,” James told me, “as we will have a 2-metre neon tattoo-parlour sign to greet you! We have also got some top international tattoo artists to help create inspiration and artwork for our facade and walls.” What will it be like? Leave it to James and JJ: “Just a really interesting, intricate, cool, basement bar where you’ll enjoy fine drinks, fine food and a bloody good atmosphere.”
JJ and James commented “We’ve had so much fun this year after we finally got the doors open to Goodge Street, having spent what has been a long year training in kitchens around England. It’s been great to get back to booze and use all the influences from Raymond and David Moore's restaurants and Sarah’s business brain, and to translate their passion for the industry into our own. To be opening our second bar after just 12 months sounds ridiculous, but living it, it seems really natural. We have built the best bar team in the UK, and it’s about to get even stronger with some of London’s best bartenders excited about getting on board. We can’t wait for 2012!”
Cheers and Happy New Year - it has been a real pleasure to work with both of you and now the series “The Restaurant” can boast a real success!
PS Please tell me what you think of my blogs and my website: I want to hear from you!
Raymond Blanc's new book, Kitchen Secrets, featuring recipes from Kitchen Secrets Series 1 & 2 and many more, was published by Bloomsbury on 14 February and is available to buy online from Amazon, from Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons, Brasserie Blanc, Maison Blanc, and from online and retail bookstores.
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