The Four Sisters launches new Townhouse venture in St Paul’s
We’re lost. The narrow streets outside St Paul’s are packed with their usual hordes of bankers, and the entrance to the Four Sisters Townhouse is nowhere to be seen. Google Maps responds with apathy, and the locals have no idea where this new launch is either. The expression “blink and you’ll miss it” seems inadequate here, because even with your eyelids taped firmly open you’re still not likely to find it.
Normally, it would be cause for criticism but, as odd as it sounds, the relative obscurity is part of the charm here. The Four Sisters Townhouse clearly aims to be a refuge from the churn and chaos of the City outside, without losing the liveliness of a bar; clever design ensures that it accomplishes just that. There’s something of the members’ club about the place, all wood panelling and gaudily upholstered furniture. Towering bookcases and Tiffany-style lamps give it an intimate feel. The usual issue with that is that clubs are designed for the elite: once you start packing them full of post-work revellers the result can feel cramped and claustrophobic. Here, though, split level flooring, a wide bar and high ceilings are all used to keep the room feeling relatively open and airy, even when full to capacity.
Of course, a bar is only as good as its drinks. We kick things off with a Kentucky Rhapsody: Jim Beam bourbon, lemon, pineapple, pepper and scotch bonnet soda. Lemon and pepper combine as beautifully in a glass as they do on a plate, the initial citrus zing giving way to a fiery heat. The pineapple is somewhat muted in the face of two such bold flavours, its main purpose to take the edge off of other ingredients. It’s a pretty thing too, topped with a little sugar-dusted scotch bonnet that looks for all the world like some exotic fruit.
Our next drink, the Beetnick, is equally photogenic. On paper, it sounds like a dubious combination: Beefeater gin, beetroot sherry, cucumber water and granny smith apples. The beetroot in particular crinkles several noses in trepidation. They swiftly straighten though: the earthy vegetable offers a delicate shot of minerality that combines surprisingly well with the botanicals of the gin. It’s a brilliant drink, every ingredient both discernable and complementary, working together to create a cocktail that’s far more subtle than it looks at first glance.
Absolut-ly reads like your standard chain cocktail: Absolut vodka, lime, vanilla and lemongrass, topped with a jasmine foam. Citrus, vanilla and florals, the classic happy hour combination designed to part theatregoers from their cash in a overcrowded West End bar. But again, they surprise us. It’s neither overly sweet nor soapy, and for once a foam is actually used with purpose, the mouth-puckering kick of lime quickly soothed by gentle jasmine.
Like the original Four Sisters in Islington, the Townhouse blends a lively atmosphere, good prices and well crafted drinks to great effect. The only catch is that if standards remain this high, even a fiendishly concealed entrance won’t keep it a secret for long.
To book a table at the Four Sisters Townhouse, 5 Groveland Court Bow Lane London EC4M 9EH, call 020 7226 0955 or visit here.