St James Bar’s Once in a Lifetime menu review: “The Sherpa scales the peak of outstanding drinks”
Taking guests to another part of the world for an experience that makes them almost forget about the present moment is the goal of many cocktail bars: drinks releasing enveloping emotions. For their new menu, the team at St James Bar, led by Angelo Sparvoli (whose pedigree features years at the American Bar and Kwānt), have almost worked backwards, using thrilling adventures (many or all of them bucket-list experiences) as inspiration for their concoctions.
The menu includes a selection of spirits and bar snacks, with the new Once in a Lifetime cocktail list accompanied by hand-painted illustrations for each drink. The experiences chosen for this compilation range from spectacles of nature (such as an eclipse and the northern lights) to intrepid pursuits like skydiving and safari. Browsing the options, our curiosity is tickled by another table’s selections. We order the same, and the presentation is incredibly exciting: Kasumi arrives in an unassuming martini glass, which is soon to be topped by a misty bubble.
The fumes liberated when it pops give a delicate herbal complement to the rim, in tune with the light drink, which has a base of Roku gin and Cocchi extra dry vermouth, with a punchy accent from the olive. More vigorous – volcanic, in fact – is Lava, a vodka tipple made with La Tomato liqueur, purple carrot consommé and an intriguing hot chilli pepper tincture from Javier de las Muelas’s Droplets range.
Mellite is an inviting play on incorporating food elements: a honey and egg-white wafer (that unfortunately has lost its crunch) lies on the edge of the tumbler. A cold extraction of fresh beetroot and honey mellows the result, rounded by aromatic Cadello 88 and made slightly dry by the Lakes Manzanilla sherry cask whiskey.
The Sherpa scales the peak of outstanding drinks: the robust cocktail is gifted with both smokiness from the Corte Vetusto Espadín mezcal and points of smoothness from the cognac; a dash of palo santo infusion adds a sturdy note, and the final touch is a refreshing spray of Vetiver Gris (a Muyu liqueur developed from a collaboration between De Kuyper Royal Distillers and Alex Kratena), which provides an invigorating aroma of timut pepper and cedar.
Among the reasons to return to St James Bar are the thoroughly considered concept drinks lists, and, in this case, the Once in a Lifetime menu’s 16 themed tipples are all coherently and cleverly prepared following the same motif. The charm of the lounge itself is also undeniable: the sumptuous teal sofas make for a warm and comfortable seating area, backed by the lit counter with rows of colourful bottles, where the bartenders in action fuel the room.
Photos: Filippo L’Astorina
To book a table at St James Bar, 6 Waterloo Place London SW1Y 4AN, call 020 7389 7820 or visit their website here.