Scarlet, Barbados

•July 9, 2014 • Leave a Comment

scarlet Barbados is not a place where you’ll find many cocktail bars, unless you want to end up in a 5 stars hotel sipping a rum punch (which is very good by the way). Still, a small gem is hidden on the island: the Scarlet bar. You’ll have to look for a totally scarlet wooden house on the west coast close to Holetown (not on the beach unfortunately), and when you get in you’ll find yourself in a fancy small place with a few Marylyn and Jackie Kennedy pictures on the walls, a long and well-equipped bar, no windows and a sort of New York atmosphere. Food is simply great, with many local dishes creatively revisited, and cocktails are pretty good as well. You’ll get your martini in an steel glass with lemon twist and made with Tanquerey, and you won’t miss the beach breeze for a moment, I can assure.  Final tip: do not miss the small collection of original photographies in the back room. Classic martini rate: 7.

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69 Colebrooke Row, London

•April 20, 2014 • Leave a Comment

 

Prairie OysterOfficially called “The bar with no name”, but known as 69 Colebrooke Row, this bar is an absolute gem, and a good example of how fame should not change a place. In fact, despite being one of the most trendy and talked-about bars in London and having being nominated twice for the very prestigious ‘world’s best bar’ award at the Tales of the Cocktail Conference in New Orleans, the 69 Colebrooke Row remains what a good bar should be: an intimate and classy place where sipping great (and I mean great) cocktails. The place is small and intimate, with good background music and a few tables. When you sit (remember to book a table, especially on weekends), you are offered a Prairie Oyster, a creative revisitation of the famous cocktail where the egg is substituted by a fresh tomato juice soft “ball”, that together with the vodka and spices that complete the drink will open up your night. The impression is to sip an egg (which is not an egg) from a ceramic oyster shaper glass. The drinks menu changes constantly: when I visited the bar, the two martinis on the list were the Blenheim Gimlet, with Black Pepper Cordial stirred with Beefeater, and the 69 Martini, which is a superbe classic martini prepared with vermouth done in the house. Yes, they do their own vermouth, which I tried straight, and which could beat many Italian, Spanish or French artesanal vermouths… Tony Conigliaro, the Italian-origin bartender and owner (bravo!) does things very seriously: the bar is producing its own books, organising cocktails masterclasses, and more. Have a look at the site for the latest developments. Classis Martini rate: 9.

 

Green Door Bar, Berlin, Germany

•December 7, 2013 • Leave a Comment

Green-Door-Berlin-007A good bar should be about good drinks, a wise man once told me. This must also be the philosophy of Herr Fritz Müller-Scherz, owner of the Green Door bar in Schöneberg in Berlin, since the feeling you have when you enter his bar (after having to ring in front of a big green door, quite a speakeasy feeling) is that the important thing is right there in the middle: a vaste selection of ingredients (I counted more than 30 gins), professional and passionate bartenders, and great drinks. No food menu, no loud music, no specific features. Still, the place has a lot of character, with an eclectic feeling surely coming from the fact that the “boss” (as they call him in the bar website) is an actor, musician, writer. Martinis at the Green Dor are close to perfection, served in frozen classy glasses, with space for discovery. I was able to get a martini with Tanquerey Malacca gin (see this post for the story of this gin, recently recovered from oblivion), perfectly balanced with some bitter and with a grapefruit peel. The bar has a good list of signature cocktails, it has a no-mobile phones and a yes-cigarettes policy, and it is said to be one of the favourite spots of David Bowie in Berlin. Not to be missed, just look for the green light above the green door… Classic Martini rate: 9.

Hobbit House, Manila, Philippines

•June 10, 2013 • Leave a Comment

manila-hobbits

This is probably the oddest bar I visited, and even if it does not stand out for its Martinis, it deserves a post. This is the story: in 1973 former professor Jim Turner, inspired by Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings books, created a bar in manila called Hobbit House. OK, what’s the news? Well, the bar staff is composed only of “little people”, or dwarfs as you prefer. You’ll see a massive mural with characters from the Hobbit, and you’ll enter (of course) through a big colorful circular door. Once you pass through the door, a bell will ring to welcome you into a candles-lighted room filled with  paintings from the Tolkien trilogy. Most probably, live music will be on, mixing folk, rock, blues, jazz and reggae. Head to the bar, where – apart from a MArtini – you can try “Lambanog”, the veeery sweet local coconut liquor. With your drink, you can get some interesting finger food: try the spicy Taquitos.

All of this, surrounded by very friendly and big-smiling mini-waiters and mini-bartenders. And the best part is that in the last 35 years Mr Turner, that you’ll most probably meet at the bar quietly drinking his beer, has been rescuing dozens of “little men”  from the worst Manila streets and got them a decent job in the bar. Thinking of this, you’ll enjoy the mini-Elvis who will sing for you even more. Classic Martini rate: 6/10.

Mattiz Bar, Leuven, Belgium

•November 20, 2012 • Leave a Comment

 Who said that Belgium is only beer, beer and beer? The Mattiz Bar wants is the evidence that in the hearth of the country you can get a good cocktail, and is doing its best to prove this. Located in the very centre of Leuven, the bar is the place to go for a drink if you do not feel like having a trappist: the owner claims it is the only bar in town without draft beer…. The drinks menu is impressive, counting both classics and creative creations, with an eye to the students’ drinking population of the city. The bar itself is a small gem, modern and trendy, with a nice philosophy behind: they claim that “they love what they do”. And, indeed: we love it too! The martini comes shaken, with Beefeater. Classic martini rate: 7.

The Alchemist, Shanghai, Cina

•October 13, 2012 • Leave a Comment

The Alchemist is a bar with a philosophy, stated on their site “Quality ingredients, modern interpretations, avant-garde techniques, respect for the classics whilst creating a path that is our own”. And having a philosophy, in these postmodern drinking era, is already a valid reason to pay a visit. Then, once you have ordered your drink, being it a classic martini or a creative molecular mix of unexpected ingredients, you’ll tap your own shoulder for being there. The bar  – standing on the ground floor of a restored building in a posh area of Shanghai – is classy but informal, the decor is full of intriguing details, the staff is friendly and professional, the food is “very delicious”. This-is-the-place-for-a-drink. Or more, maybe. Classic Martini rate: 7,5/10.

Ozone, Hong Kong, China

•September 7, 2012 • Leave a Comment

 The race to be the highest bar in the world is open and wild, but I am ready to state that the Ozone is the highest open roof bar in the world (please correct me if I’m wrong, I am ready to invite you to martini…). Opened in March 2011, the Ozone is on the last floor of the ICC building in Kowloon, Hong Kong, the fourth highest building on the planet with  484 meters and 118 floors above the ground. The bar is impressive for a number of reasons: first its height, which gives a feeling hardly comparable to any other skybar I know: looking down simply feels veeery unreal. Second, the design (see some pics here):  created by Japanese achistar Masamachi Katayama, it is an absolute wonder of geometrical shapes on the floor, the wall, the ceiling, with amazing irregular columns and with a long transparent bar. Third: the fact that – even if the bar is hosted by the Ritz-Carlton – the staff is extremely flexible and will let you in even with casual clothes; ok the crowd is mainly made up of tourists and of hotel guests, making it the perfect place for a drink or two before enjoying some more local place. Final tip: do not miss the bathroom, which has probably the most stunning view you will ever enjoy while in a toilet! Drinks are pretty good, even if they are not at the level of the bar itself. Still, Classic Martini rate 7/10.