Thursday, 25 April 2013

City of London Distillery Bar, Blackfriars: 20/20

Location: 22 - 24 Bride's Lane, London, EC4Y 8DT


Visit: Any evening of the working week

To Note: Definitely a week night place so impress your work mates 

Ambiance 5/5
Design 5/5
Drinks 5/5
Staff 5/5 

Part of me feels guilty that I have not reviewed COLD (City of London Distillery) before, but the other part is glad I waited to see how it has evolved ; and that is from a large space filled with ex-pub furniture to a home from home.

There is a lot of PR out there about how COLD developed so I will keep it short but Jamie Baxter – previously of Chase Distillery – set up small vodka and gin still in this basement bar with owner Jonathon just a couple of hundred yards from Blackfriars Bridge down a small side street and both distils and offers tours here. And from that has developed COLD bar, taken over by the inimitable London Bar Consultants and sporting 130 gins with various tonics, garnishes and classic cocktails.

But you want to know what you get here. Well dark green walls lend a warm feeling to this bar and although it is a very large space, there are intimate cubbies with couches at the back, large tables suited to groups that the City will inevitably attract and best of all, plenty of seats at the bar. On top of that every time I have walked through the door it has felt like a bar-hug. (Yes, it is becoming difficult to visit without bumping into someone I know!)

The drinks are presented in this lovely menu (see pic!) and break the gins into regional, style but frankly the staff are SO well trained here just ask them, they all have knowledge and different preferences or go for a flight. The cocktails are beautiful and The Ford is still my favourite adapted from the late 1800’s and showing the cocktail pedigree of the team behind the menu – Lewis and Nate.

But if it wasn’t for the fact that COLD bar hugs you, if it wasn’t for the brilliant drinks (and very generous platters of food) I would still come here for the service. The team has been together from the start and it shows. There is great banter, camaraderie and all underlined with total friendliness to customers. Nate often runs classes there and will show various gins against their own gin, Alfie wears a permanent smile and is a sponge for gin knowledge and Leon – just down from Manchester – is another welcome addition to a strong team with several cocktail competition wins already under his belt.

So all that is left to say is, what are you waiting for?! And for once this space is large enough that you do not need to worry about telling your friends, a nice benefit amongst London’s ever increasing tiny basement joints. Oh and if you are looking for a private party venue…look no further. Superb. 

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