The popular St James Bar at the Sofitel London St James off Pall Mall in Waterloo Place comes up with the most creative seasonal and special occasion cocktail menus, most recently having created three superb cocktails to celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee back in May this year.
If you are unfamiliar with the St James Bar, it is a chic, elegant and inviting meeting place with an upmarket ambience, filled with rich textures and colours, and where you will find an eclectic mix of locals, businesspeople, and hotel guests. The service is warm and friendly, and the background music unobtrusive.
This intimate and somewhat decadent cocktail bar has a twist of French and British influences with its rich mohair velvet banquettes, opulent jewel shades complementing brass accents, warm lighting and antique mirror tables and a striking marble topped bar.
Last week I popped in one busy early evening with a friend to try out some of the imaginative cocktails from their new menu, entitled ‘Once In A Lifetime’.
Inspiration for the new cocktails comes from the many experiences you often hear about on people’s bucket lists which they want to do at least once in their lifetime. And with that in mind award-winning Head Bartender Angelo Sparvoli and his team have created 16 wonderfully creative and striking cocktails, each one presented in a refined glass for us to enjoy. The whole experience being a journey into the unknown!
The cocktails themselves are complex, some dazzle with theatrics whilst others offer an intriguing combination of flavours and intricate techniques. These are without doubt cocktails for the ultimate cocktail aficionado.
Whatever your passion or dream adventure, there is a cocktail on the menu for you. Be it climbing Mount Everest, taking a ride in a hot air balloon, driving a Formula 1 car or taking that dream journey on the Orient Express. Each cocktail has been carefully created with ingredients that will evoke an experience through not only the presentation of the cocktail but also the taste and smell.
Take ‘Green Lights’, for example, the first cocktail we tried, which is a mix of Tanqueray N.10 Gin, Nordic Aquavit, lemon oleo-saccharum, pine needles and a refreshing lemon sorbet. This cocktail is meant to recreate the experience of lying in the snow looking up at the Northern Lights. With its citrusy, dry pine taste, it was the perfect cocktail to start the evening with.
‘Javari’ on the other hand, is made with Canaima gin, Amazonian botanicals and a red amaranth garnish, as well as cocoa, yerba mate, soapbark and timur pepper, which all combine to create the native humid aromas that we’d imagine inhaling when exploring the Amazon rainforest. It is thirst-quenching and silky.
‘The Passenger’ is meant to evoke that ultimate train journey on the Orient Express, and is made with Boatyard Double Gin, Boatyard Sloe Boat Gin, Empirical Spirits The Plum, Cocchi Vermouth di Torino, Campari and topped with sage. It offers a bittersweet, nutty and fragrant taste, perfect for gazing out the window at the passing countryside.
The final cocktail we tried was ‘Voyage’, which is a mix of Michter’s US*1 Rye, Talisker 10 year old single malt whisky, Discarded Cascar Vermouth, Cocchi Extra Dry Vermouth, apricot brandy and macadamia. It offers a nutty, bold and lightly smoky taste, reminding of us that ultimate road trip we should all experience at least once in our lifetime.
Some of the other cocktails include ‘Into The Wild’ inspired by that ultimate safari trip and ‘Freefall’ for those of you brave enough to jump out of an airplane!
The cocktail menu is as creative as the cocktails themselves, with eye-catching illustrations by artist Simon Grant, whose designs emulate those industrial travel posters you would have seen in the 1930s, with a combination of a strong graphic design and freehand painted feel to them.
All 16 of the ‘Once In A Lifetime’ cocktails offer a different experience, but whichever one you choose, you’re sure to enjoy the journey, wherever it takes you!
St James Bar, Sofitel London St James, 6 Waterloo Place, London, SW1Y 4AN, England.
Tel: +44 (0)20 7747 2238
The St James Bar is located to the right of the lobby as you walk into the Sofitel London St James, which is on the corner of Waterloo Place and Pall Mall very close to Piccadilly Circus Tube station (Piccadilly and Bakerloo lines). The bar is open Monday to Saturday from 5:00pm to midnight, Sunday from 3:00pm to 11:30pm and closed on Wednesdays.
Simon Burrell is Editor of Our Man On The Ground, a member of The British Guild of Travel Writers and professional photographer.
Photographs courtesy of the St James Bar by Will Stanley