Friday, 17 February 2012
St James Bar, St. James's
£17 for a Belvedere Bloody Mary sounds expensive. When I add that it comes with charcuterie, roast chicken dinner and pudding as part of a fantastic Sunday lunch deal at The Balcon; form an orderly queue! Having saved yourself a packet, splurge it immediately at the brasserie’s elegant sister bar, St James. Gallic swoons, dressed as if by The Kooples for the new film version of de Maupassant’s Bel Ami, deliver killer cocktails with a sexy French accent. Evocative titles I could not have bettered had i chose them myself, include Pépé le Moko - a nod to Jean Gabin's character in the 1930's gangster caper of that ilk. Built on Ardbeg malt and Eldorado aged rum, it's a smoking gun for hire at £13.50. Yes, that’s almost what lunch just cost, but trust me, you want it!. A tequila and Aperol vision - decorous and flawless - befits its inspiration, Kiki de Montparnasse - Man Ray’s muse, the toast of sybaritic 1920’s Paris. Recalling that same pre-War joie de vivre, exotic fancies Miss Mistinguett, Topaze (after Marcel Pagnol) and Petite Tonkinoise (after Josephine Baker) are reason for repeat visits, but limit yourself to two: these bébés are lethal. The bijou lounge is a play on Coco Chanel’s Rue Cambon salon. Taking against one cocktail, I’m told Chanel insisted its name, Mademoiselle Cinq, be changed. It was... to 1921, the year No5 was launched. Based on some historians' claims about the designer's political sympathies, would ‘Nazi Poodle’ or 'Miss Swastika' have been de trop?
Sofitel St James, 6 Waterloo Place SW1 7968 2900 www.sofitelstjames.com