Monday, 9 March 2015

The Luggage Room, Mayfair. An Education in the delights of Cocktails!


Tucked neatly out of sight at the foot steps of London Marriott Hotel Grosvenor Square, is a heavy black door taking you to the original 'Luggage Room' of the London Marriott Hotel Grosvenor Square.

The black door leads to the sophisticated Luggage Room.  The air is warm, the atmosphere comfortable, the lights on low, my eyes adjust to the light.  If you like nostalgia of the 1920s, this is the bar to come too.  Marbled floors, rolled chocolate leather seating areas, brass studs, symmetrical lines, mirrors and crystal decanters, handmade wine cabinets with period curiosities for us to admire.

The elegant bar is presented in a speakeasy style, the bar is intimate, small groups can enjoy the atmosphere.  Plenty is quiet tables for private conversation.  I personally like to stand at the bar, there so much going on and I want to see everything.  This is a beautiful bar, it oozes quality, showman ship and the bar is knee deep in style and personality where flavours of the highest standards are reached. 

My bartender for the evening is Chris Pawar.  Chris is the Head Bartender, he welcomes me and my fellow bloggers to his empire.  We are given a Rum Punch, as a palate cleanser.  A lovely refreshing mini cocktail, the fruit juice doesn't over power the rum, just leave my mouth waiting more.

Not only is Chris going to give his guests a history in cocktails but this is a working bar, he is working too.  He juggles educating and making cocktails at the same time, making it look effortless in the process.

The first thing I notice at the bar is the largest piece of ice I have ever seen.  Its as large as a beeze block but solid. Chris demonstrates with a big ice saw how to cut the ice.  Its all very impressive to watch, a little showmanship but the reason the ice block is used is to compliment the drinks.  The ice has been made from purified water, the block is crystal clear. Drinks are served with blocks of ice rather the traditional cubes, keeping ones cocktails drinks cold.  Cubes warm and dissolves quickly, diluting drinks, this changes the flavours and tarnishing a classy cocktail to a watery mess.  

Chris turns back the hands of time to 1806.  When the first printed reference to a 'cocktail' was made.
A cocktail is simply a stimulating liquor, composed of spirit, sugar, water and bitter! - This reference can found in 'The Savoy Cocktail Book'.  And yes, I do own my own copy!

For our 'Cocktail' Chris used a Jenever Gin.  Which is a Dutch Gin, most gins are Dutch, importing to the UK.  Even London Gin is imported. When you see label with reference to London Dry Gin is the dominant English style of Gin. Made not containing added sweetening exceeding 0.1 grams of sugars per litre of the final product.

Definitely a sipping cocktail, it hits hard on my taste buds, the next sip isn't so harsh, the Gin is strong there is no sweetness and its quite bitter.  Not a favourite to drink but a interesting drink.

The next cocktail to follow was a Tom Collins.  I have always known the Tom Collins to be created at The Savoy, however Chris tells a funny tell.  It could be named after a terrible joke.
A man goes to a bar... someone else tells him to get to the next bar, as soon as possible.  There's a man; Tom Collins, he is bad mouthing you, talking terrible things about you, you better go and sort him out.
This chap would dash into the next bar and ask for Tom Collins and handed this drink? Apparently this was called the Tom Collins hoax of 1874  and how The Tom Collins took off.   
The Tom Collins, is Gin based cocktail made with lemon juice, soda water and sugar.  Very refreshing, so easy to drink.  I felt like it was a spring day in my mouth, the Gin punching through.  Delicious!

Pressing through the hands of time 1919 was the beginning of the Prohibition.  The American government introduced the Prohibition, criminalising the manufacturing and sale of alcohol for 13 years.  Hence the high-proof spirit called moonshine or homemade “bathtub gin” was being sold on the black market everywhere.  However this tipple wasn't for everyone, people with a sensitive palates wanted booze without burning their mouths off, also most of the time who knew what went into these concoctions.

The Bees Knees - The term The Bee's knees' dates as early as the 20th century. Initially, it meant a nonsense expression that denoted something that didn't have any meaningful existence.  A Bees knees are tiny and useless.
This cocktail filled my mouth with happiness. Gin, fresh lemon juice, honey syrup.  Lemon and Honey would be available, cheap yet tasty ingredients.  
The term now changed to something magnificent! 'Its the Bees Knees' I agree whole heartily, my favourite cocktail of the evening. The lemon citrus zinging and moreish, the honey light and the gin so hearty.  I could drink this all night long.

This evening is an education, filled with elegance, style and forever fashionable taste.  Every lady loves a cocktail and champagne in on top of the list. 
The Old Cuban.  A modern cocktail, a grown-ups drink. The cocktail is fizzy, champagne, rum, mint and lime juice.  The champagne is wrapped up in the warm rum and the lime and mint peeks through, its rich, refreshing and leaves my cheeks glowing. 

Chris was an absolute pleasure to meet, a fine host.  He knew his stuff and shook-up some delicious cocktails.  He made me understand the true meaning to drinking a high end cocktail.  The Ice has to be cold, not crushed.  Even the straws are stainless steel here, the glasses are kept in the fridge.  Keeping everything chilled is achieve the optimum cocktail.   

The Luggage Room, Mayfairs Best kept secret!  I would say this is a true statement. A touch of class, a bar steeped in history, lessons to be learnt for all.  

I hope you get to meet Chris and his colleagues. 

I attended a mini mixology showcase, in return for an honest review. All view are my own!
Dont be shy! Say say Hi!