St James Bar in St James’s: A playlist of dazzling cocktails celebrating the world’s best music
It’s a complex business to define why some music makes history – what components hold the key to success. For its special drinks list, St James Bar tries to capture that formula in a glass, creating a setlist of 14 dazzling cocktails. Recently reopened together with the nearby Wild Honey after a full renovation, the bar inside Sofitel St James, just a few steps away from Trafalgar Square, is the first UK project of architect Jim Hamilton. The lounge is sumptuously decorated, translating the prestigious status of the hotel into elegant details while creating a cosy atmosphere. In charge of the inventive offerings is Enzo Sigaut, whose previous ventures include Sketch and Fairmont Monaco.
There are two full pages of whiskies from all over the world, 60 varieties of gin available to order and an enviably wide selection of other spirits. The most characteristic cocktails are Martini-inspired. But is the astonishing signature menu that proves the centrepiece. Whether you wish to be led by the front of the house or be guided by your own musical taste, the choices are unlikely to disappoint. What immediately catches the eye is the presentation: the drinks list itself is a CD album, with each cocktail’s composition and concept explained and depicted in the middle of the related cover. From Sinatra to Daft Punk, from Nirvana to Beyoncé: singles and albums of some of the most classic and world-known artists are at the base of this mesmerising selection.
If you have to pick only one, Spice of Californication is all you need to ask for. Spiced with a slightly smoky aftertaste, strong but smooth on the tongue, this cocktail is spellbinding thanks to the Vida Mezcal which is masterfully mixed with chilli syrup and lime juice.
It would have been highly regretful to leave without tasting the silky Come As You Are. The potent cocktail is infused with citrusy notes, the barrel-aged whiskey bitters and Johnnie Walker Black Label constituting its robust body.
While switching between ages and classics of the music hall of fame, the food section, curated by Wild Honey chef Anthony Demetre, provides an appetising pairing. The hand-chopped beef tartare, our favourite, is a pulpy portion exalting the meaty produce. The Grilled Cornish Sardines and the Farmhouse Terrine are as colourful as they are delicious.
The electric charge of AC/DC has been cleverly boxed in Feel Like a Bomb. Arriving in a black cube, the gin-based concoction reveals a slightly smoky soul. The bitter mix that characterises Humanz is intriguing. Served in a perfect Gorillaz’s-style monkey head, the drink surprises by producing a smooth product from a pretty long list of ingredients, comprising macaroon & white tea infused cachaça, angostura bitters, egg white and grapefruit soda.
The creative playlist will be replaced in October 2019 by a travel-inspired cocktail menu. With such an impressive reopening, we are more than excited to try the next offering. However, like the best concert, it would be a shame to miss this particular setlist, which promises a fine-tuned and spirited performance.
★★★★★Drinks ▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮Service ▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮
Photos: Filippo L’Astorina and Cristiana Ferrauti
To book a table at St James Bar, 6 Waterloo Place London SW1Y 4AN, call 0207 968 2900 or visit their website here.