27/52 – Mr Fogg’s Cocktail Bar
Hidden in a small back alley, in the heart of Mayfair, London keeps an intriguing little secret. Mr Phileas Fogg, triumphantly returned from his recent circumnavigation of the globe, (in a record time of just eighty days), has settled down with his loyal manservant, a few treasures from his travels, and a small number of incredibly talented cocktail barmen.
Approaching this eccentric establishment, one is first introduced to Mr Fogg himself (a rather gruff bouncer gorgeously attired in a small waistcoat), and then, responding to the sound of the good old fashioned doorbell, Fogg’s manservant, Passepartout, ushers his esteemed guests into the wonderland of exotic cocktails and neatly dressed waiters which is Mr Fogg’s front living room.
Tom recommended this amazing cocktail bar as a fancy destination for Rob’s 21st Birthday, and so, suitably attired in our finest clothing, we headed into Mayfair one Wednesday evening in search of the famously elusive establishment. Mayfair itself is such a lovely part of London. Although many of the designer shops and fancy restaurants would be a little outside the common budget, it’s fun for us East Londoners to wander the streets (especially in the evening), casually stroll past the Ritz, window shop the many boutiques, and enjoy the sophisticated atmosphere of the W1 nightlife.
Not far from Green Park stations lies the door to Mr Fogg’s. It’s definitely not obvious to a casual observer, but luckily Tom knew where he was going, and the waistcoated doorman makes it easy to spot once you know what you’re looking for. I had booked ahead because there were six of us, and I would definitely recommend doing this because it can get very busy, (and also it’s so fun telling ‘Mr Fogg’ your name, and then having him invite you inside and thank you most cordially for your reservation!)
The inside is so impressive. It’s a (relatively) small space, which makes the atmosphere just intimate enough to feel special, but when it’s busy it’s full of conversation and life without being too loud. It’s light enough to see the menu (why are some bars so dark?) and the music is just loud enough to promote conversation without being overpowering. Also, there’s a taxidermied otter driving a mini horse and carriage.
Yep, did I mention the decor? It is amazing! A genteel drawing room mixed with a curiosity shop, with lots of comfortable sofas and armchairs – the walls are lined from the floors all the way to the high ceilings with books and pictures, and literally everything else that Mr Fogg could conceivably have collected from his travels, from skulls and spears to pith hats and pairs of skis.
The bar, which takes up one whole wall, is incredibly well stocked, and the menu is the most diverse I have ever seen. Cocktails of every conceivable kind, as well as champagnes, wines and fine spirits are available, ranging from the £12-£20 cocktail to a £40 measure of whisky, a £350 bottle of wine, or, if you’re feeling spendy, perhaps a £4000 bottle of champagne?
We spent so long poring over the menu, because every single cocktail sounds so good! We eventually made up our minds, and a lovely lady in a swishy skirt took our order. All of the cocktails looked and tasted amazing, but Scott managed to pick the most interesting drinks of the night – first the ‘Smoking carriage’ which arrived in a small wooden box, which, when opened to reveal the drink, spilled out a cloud of delicious smelling steam (so mysterious!) and next a shot of black absinthe which came with a gorgeous water decanter (with little taps which reminded me of the bit in Harry Potter where the sink opens up to reveal the Chamber of Secrets), which could be delicately strained through a lump of sugar presented on a silver slotted spoon.
Apparently the diluted absinthe with sugar actually tasted pretty good, but I was happy to stick to the ‘Trans-Siberian Express’, a gorgeous pink cocktail with champagne, pineapple juice and grey goose vodka. We stayed for three hours and happily sampled a couple of cocktails each. The atmosphere is so relaxed, it’s easy to make conversation and just chill out with friends, and is clearly a popular destination for the after-work-drinks crowd.
Although a little pricier than some London destinations, I honestly think it’s worth it for such fabulous surroundings (but don’t forget that they will add a service charge to your final bill). We had such a good time celebrating Rob’s birthday, and must heartily thank Mr Fogg for being such a gracious host.
* To find out more about Phileas and friends, or to reserve your own corner of Mr Fogg’s abundant living room, you can visit the website by clicking here *