IN Covent Garden searches for the best martinis Mr Bond himself would die for.
Is there a cocktail more elegant and iconic than the martini? It is a drink to aspire to. A chilled, sleek beacon of true adulthood. Potent too, to be savoured and not knocked back. As Dorothy Parker’s famous bon mot warns, “I like a good martini, two at the very most. After three I am under the table, after four I am under the host.”
Martini aficionados preach fervently about their preferred composition. Should it be gin or vodka? Dirty, dry, with a twist? Regardless, whatever your penchant, martinis are certainly worth getting shaken and stirred about and there is a venue to suit every palate in Covent Garden.
CHRISTOPHER’S on Bow Street was established in 1991 but it oozes the
sort of chic that goes right back to the glory days of the cocktail. You could imagine F. Scott Fitzgerald sauntering up to beautifully doomed Zelda here and whispering sweet nothings and dry vermouth in her ear. Sit at the gorgeous onyx bar and be part of the Bright Young set (at least for the time it takes to sip your cocktail languorously).
18 Wellington St, Covent Garden, London WC2E 7DD
Grand dame glamour can also be found at RULES on Maiden Lane, where it would almost be rude not to order a pre-prandial martini at the bar. James Bond might not feel quite so welcome because here martinis are very definitely stirred and not shaken. Still, I daresay that cocktail connoisseur Mike Walker could rustle up an excellent Vesper Martini to appease our favourite sociopathic spy.
34-35 Maiden Ln, Covent Garden, London WC2E 7LB
If gin is your thing MR. FOGG’S GIN PARLOUR has a menu to rival all gin menus. You can take your time mulling over all 150 spirits on offer to create your perfect martini as you relax in the ersatz Victorian parlour. Sister bar, Mr Fogg’s Society of Exploration offers a whole compendium of exciting cocktails for the adventurous imbiber.
Mr Fogg’s Gin Parlour:
1 New Row, Covent Garden, London WC2N 4EA
You can get your classic dirty martini (for me the dirtier the better, I am an olive obsessive) at DIRTY MARTINI on the Piazza but this is also a bar that welcomes those looking for a refreshed and fun take on the classics. Here martinis are bold and bright and are served as happy fuel for anyone who wants a raucous gossip with their girlfriends and maybe even a little dance around their handbags.
11-12 Russell St, Covent Garden, London WC2B 5HZ
Any barman worth his salt (or vermouth) will be able to shake up a martini even
if it is not strictly on the menu. I like to use it as a litmus test and those at sultry, almost petulant EVE BAR are a chilled delight. The vodka and gin selection is enough to tempt any Temperant and there are bar snacks to die for, including Truffle donuts and three types of Caviar. If there is anything I want to eat with my martini (other than my hard and fast olive) it is Caviar. I think James Bond would approve.
34 Southampton St, Covent Garden, London WC2E 7HF