A friend returned from a date last year claiming to have been to a cocktail bar where she had to don a moustache disguise to drink one of the concoctions, and another was accompanied by a man striking a Chinese gong as you drank. That place was Purl London, located handily opposite my office in a bit of a bar black spot in Marylebone and famous for it’s highly unusual approach to presenting drinks and “molecular mixology”. Think Heston Blumenthal for the cocktail world.
Where to start? The Puffing Devil no. 2 comes served with a miniature espresso icecream and an atomiser so you can apply your own cherry mist to the whiskey and cream sherry drink – a deconstructed old fashioned really. The Sevillanas comes with a little bowl of marinated carrots. I’ve previously had their Negroni that comes with a piece of candied bacon and a “Milk & Cookies” accompanied by “absinthe snow” and piece of shortbread. There’s even a pimms style drink that comes with it’s own patch of grass.
On my most recent visit, my Cuba Libre del Pobre came with an ice lolly made of red wine, and a bowl of “fizzing grapes” – god knows how they achieved it! But the real showstopper is the Cerez Joker – a gin sour where the lemon twist is provided on top of a helium balloon which is “detonated” to propel the lemon into the drink. This is drinking like nothing you’ll have ever tried before.
It’s an underground speakeasy and the décor is very dark, cosy and prohibition style – it’d be the perfect place to kick off a date if you were trying to impress. There’s big leather armchairs and nooks and crannies to cosy up in. There’s also some “palate cleansing” cucumber sandwiches that are provided when you arrive (although they won’t hold off the “should we get some dinner?” question for long…)
This place is genuinely unique in my experience of London cocktail bars (and beyond, actually). Despite the fripperies, this is a grown ups cocktail bar, so if you’re more of a woo woo or daiquiri girl then these drinks will probably be a bit hardcore – there’s not much fruit juice flying around. This is the kind of place you go for the experience rather than if you’re thirsty (not least because at £10-£12 a cocktail with no happy hour, you can run up a hefty bill quite quickly!). It’s definitely worth visiting for one though, to truly appreciate the drama of it – my descriptions and photos can’t come close to doing it justice.
You always eat the fruit from the bottom of your pimms and get judged– eating the nibbles that come with all of these drinks is actively encouraged!
DON’T GO THERE IF…
You’ve got a heart condition – some of the cocktails come with health warnings!
One of the drinks comes in a bath of frozen nitrogen creating a steam cloud over the table – just be careful to drink the right cup if you don’t want a perforated stomach…
FOR MORE INFORMATION…