1073 Cocktails and 238 Bars now listed
The aim of the bar was to bring classic cocktails back to the forefront of Londons drinking scene,whilst adding new flare and creativity to forgotten libations.
Bars that dabble in molecular mixology are two a penny these days, but few have been doing it for as long, or with such dedication as Purl. Its darkened basement full of cosy cubby-holes was a true innovator in this style of bartending, and it continues to attract the crowds. Booking is consequentially all but essential for most of the week, which regrettably means that your first encounter is not a friendly “Hi, how are you?” but instead a surly, “Do you have a reservation?” Purl is not alone in such behaviour, but frankly it is becoming tiresome; I’m here to have a drink, not to rob the joint. Once you have been permitted to descend into the belly of this subterranean watering hole another awkward wait is in store as the ‘greeter’ is inevitably already busy showing someone else to their table. It would help if the unoccupied bartenders stood just a few feet away didn’t stare at you like you’ve just gatecrashed the gold ring at Newmarket races.
At least while you are waiting around your eyes get a chance to acclimatise to the environmentally-friendly approach to lighting. Actually it is rather fun, and little nooks and crannies filled with interesting oddities combined with bare brick walls and leather furniture makes for an aesthetically pleasing and comfy place to park ones buttocks for a while.
Purl being located in deepest darkest Marylebone, Charlie’s Magical Pick-Me-Up sounded like just the job to revive my weary legs. Served with a gelatine capsule filled with a mixture of bicarbonate of soda, citric acid and paprika the idea is that you add the contents of the capsule to your drink, where upon the bicarb creates a bit of fizz, the citric acid ramps up the sour element and the paprika adds, well, a taste of paprika. Careless free pouring of the rest of the ingredients resulted in a too-sweet libation that would have needed a whole handful of pills to save. Nice idea, poor drink.
Things didn’t get any better with the Femme Fatale; billed as an alternative to a Negroni it was nothing of the sort, with the smoky Lagavulin totally destroying the Kamm and Son’s and Lillet Blanc with which it was paired. The spherified thyme ‘olive’ sitting atop a silver spoon resting on the lip of the glass was well-made and delivered an explosion of flavour that admittedly combined delightfully with the drink. With only one being served however, the flavour pairing effect was lost within a couple of sips, leaving you with a fortuitously small glass of meh. Similar frustrations were experienced with the Vieux Carre which, whilst well-made and appropriately billed as an alternative to a Manhattan, was partnered with nuggets of salmon ‘jerky’ so small I nearly lost one under my fingernail. The effect of combining them with the drink was impressive, the oiliness of the fish adding body and a wondrous mouthfeel to take this excellent drink to another level. If only they weren’t so stingy with the portions.