The Courtesan in Brixton relaunches with feminine drinks list
The Courtesan, on Atlantic Road in Brixton, is re-launching, and doing so with a celebration of their “feminine” drinks list – all spirits and wines coming from female producers or growers. It’s a self-proclaimed dim sum restaurant and late night bar, and the whole evening gave new dimensions to the word Orientalism. The menus were written as if you were being addressed by an obsequious geisha, and the interior looked like the Asia that you remember from the movies. It is the kind of interior that you can imagine Ryan Gosling wandering around, looking at things in an unnecessarily sexy way. It is dark and iniquitous and beautiful. The restaurant, not Ryan Gosling…actually, both.
So what of the all-female drinks list that was the toast of the evening? Well, it’s a gimmick. A harmless gimmick, maybe even an admirable one, but a gimmick none the less. It tells nothing of the quality of the produce. Luckily, it was mostly backed up, and Gabriella Thorpe’s Vintage Velvet Vodka was a real high point – a sipping vodka if ever there was one.
There were talks from various producers or ambassadors about the “feminine” drinks list, although confusingly, most of these talks were given by men. In fact, confusion was very much the order of the day: every so often a West End star would burst into opera, and would walk among the crowd singing as people tucked into their not particularly tasty food (Four Cheese Dumplings – cheese and soy sauce, no thank you).
So what with the opera singing, and the vodka, and the poorly made dim sum, it was all quite baffling. And then everything fell into place. After the fourth or fifth drink, the merits of The Courtesan as a late night bar really hit home. The sight of a room full of tipsy people swaying with their glasses raised to the sounds of La Traviata sung by a man on a table was nothing if not joyous.
The Courtesan will host opera nights in their downstairs boudoir, as well as burlesque and other entertainment. And this is where their strength lies. This is not a dim sum restaurant and late night bar. It is a crazy little bar that happens to do food.
Come here late, leave all your expectations at the door, and just go along for the ride.
To book a table at Courtesan, 69 Atlantic Road Brixton London SW9 8PU, call 020 8127 8677 or visit the website here.