WHAT could be better than indulging in a brand-new cocktail menu after a busy Sunday afternoon in the heart of London? Well, we are in for a treat as we step through the doors of Sofitel to their St James Bar, ready to taste the global infusions from their latest ‘A Taste of the World’ card.
Described to maintain a speakeasy vibe, straightaway we are transported through the sunlight trap of the main restaurant, into a dimly lit hub, St James Bar.
Seated amongst teal-coloured plush sofas with a black marble table, you can tell that this place knows how to deliver luxury. The bar staff are attentive and on the ball, talking us through the new menu and their own personal recommendations as a tray of vegetable crisps and mixed nuts are presented in front of us.
Craving something sweet, we opt for the Exotico cocktail which includes Ron Santiago De Cuba Carta Blanca, Ron Santiago De Cuba 11yo, Trois Rivières Blanc Rum, mango, passion fruit, lychee, and Franklin & Sons ginger beer, alongside the Grapes cocktail with Boatyard Double Gin, Boatyard Sloe Boat Gin, Cocchi Vermouth Di Torino, Cocchi Barolo Chinato, Maraschino, grapes, blackberry, and tannins.
With the open bar in sight, we have the delight of seeing each of our drinks expertly made by highly trained bartenders, like our own private performance.
The drinks don’t take long to craft and as we wait we scour through the small plates menu to accompany our choices. Deciding upon a bowl of fresh oysters, truffle arancini balls and some vegetable gyozas, it’s clear that St James has it all. Although it’s described as a bar, there is still that fine restaurant sensation throughout which is quite unique for a London speakeasy.
Both cocktails carry a punch but satisfy our tastebuds smoothly as you can feel every element on the tongue. They’re the perfect consistency to sip and chat along with as they take a while to go down, making this a great destination for friendly catch-ups or first dates.
As we’re making our way through the glasses, our food arrives and immediately the fresh aromas of the oysters, positioned perfectly in their shells and a bowl of ice, hits our noses. Lemon and pepper are provided and we get stuck into setting up our palette cleansers.
All dishes go down a treat, the arancini balls melt in the mouth, the gyozas give me that warm sensation of comfort in my stomach, and the oysters are quite possibly the best I’ve ever had.
We don’t hesitate in ordering a second round of cocktails, this time opting for Agua De Jamaica which holds Volcan De Mi Tierra Blanco Tequila, Corte Vetusto Mezcal Espadín, Amaro Santoni, hibiscus, and strawberry in carbonation, and the Let’s Go Banana with Black Tot Finest Caribbean Rum, Appleton Rum 12yo Rare Casks, Nectar PX, banana, and Elemakule tiki bitters.
They’re both the ideal round-up to our food and a great way to end our trip to St James Bar.
Dare I say if cocktails are not your usual bag then I would definitely recommend a trip here. Staff are great with answering any queries and offering advice depending on your palette, they’re also incredibly patient and didn’t hesitate to replenish our nibbles and water throughout our trip.
St James, I will be back.
by Alicia Tomkinson