When I walked into Mr Fogg’s Tavern located on St Martin’s Lane I found myself in a busy pub with chalkboards advertising ‘mother’s ruin’ gin cocktails and grog, patrons were drinking from old-fashioned tankards and the food was billed as ‘honest fare’ serving ‘London’s finest pie’, sandwiches and roasts all day – it was sort of like stepping back in time to Victorian London.
There’s a fun fictional story behind the bar – the idea is that Phileas J Fogg, from the story Around The World in 80 Days, inherited the townhouse in St Martin’s Lane when his Aunt Gertrude passed away. The Tavern downstairs is run by Aunt Gertrude’s loyal housekeeper Fanny McGee as a raucous hangout for her theatrical friends. But our drinking den for the evening was actually upstairs and more sedate Gin Parlour & Salon kept by Mr Fogg himself.
The Gin Parlour is kind of like The Old Curiosity Shop in the Dickens novel…
With little antiques and trinkets…there’s something different around every corner…
Actually it looks less like a cool Covent Garden bar and more like someone’s living room. With comfortable sofas in eclectic patterns, an open fireplace, clocks, pictures and mirrors lining the wall…
All the personal bits and pieces that Mr Fogg has picked up from travels around the world.
Or artefacts that have been passed down for generations.
I particularly liked the bar itself constructed out of a chest of drawers which I imagined contained Mr Fogg’s maps and travelling papers among his other bits and bobs. I visited the sister bar, Mr Fogg’s Residence in Mayfair, a couple of weeks ago and the interior there is quite different – more like a gentleman’s club than a cosy salon.
But I wasn’t here just to admire the decor, I was meeting Lauren and Colleen for cocktails…
The cocktail menu reflects the bar’s theatrical location and it’s split into different acts to reflect the types of cocktails.
Act 1 is pre-show light looseners or aperitif-type cocktails. We were all tempted by the same one with a travel-themed name, the Trans-Siberian Express containing Russian Standard Platinum vodka, crème de framboise, fresh lemon juice and pineapple juice topped with Moët & Chandon champagne.
Now I’m pretty fussy about cocktails, I don’t like them too strong, too sweet or too sour but this cocktail hit all the right notes for me. The lemon juice providing the necessary tartness but the pineapple balancing it out with some sweetness. I absolutely loved the glasses too, champagne coupés are my favourite and if you read my blog post 10 facts about Champagne, you’ll know that this glass shape was apparently modelled on Marie-Antoinette’s breast.
As we all love champagne cocktails, our second one also came from the ‘light looseners’ section of the menu but if you prefer something stronger there’s plenty of interesting concoctions to choose from, many featuring gin, the signature spirit of the bar. Actually if gin’s your thing the bar run a Gin Safari which is basically an hour and a half of expert tuition in gin and a tasting of six different types.
Our second cocktail was named after another literary reference and the name Ophelia’s Pagne reminded me of my student days studying Hamlet. The cocktail contained Cointreau Noir liqueur shaken with bergamot liqueur, lemon juice and Angostura bitters topped with Moët & Chandon champagne. If you like a stronger champagne cocktail it’s a great choice but personally I preferred our first one.
While more substantial food is served downstairs, there’s a menu of nibbles on offer at the Gin Parlour.
The three of us shared a really tasty charcuterie platter and a small plate of sloe gin cured salmon – just right to soak up those strong cocktails. Moving on from the cocktails we decided to try some of the wine which is available by the glass, jug or bottle. We went for a jug between the three of us…and yes, a jug of wine is much more classy than it sounds especially as it came in a pretty crystal carafe.
I had a really lovely night with Lauren and Colleen and I really liked Mr Fogg’s, it’s great to find somewhere comfortable and relaxed for cocktails – I also have my eye on coming back to try the Tipsy tea which is served with champagne and gin teas and sounds really interesting and unique.
Mr Fogg’s Tavern
58 St Martin’s Lane
020 7581 3992
Our food and drinks were complimentary for the review.