The Zetter Townhouse Cocktail Lounge, Clerkenwell

Type of Bar: Hotel, Lounge, Victorian
Damage££
Ideal for: Date, Small Groups

If you’re looking for the Zetter Townhouse Marylebone & Seymour’s Parlour (opened 2015), Click HERE!

A long-time favourite, The Zetter Townhouse Cocktail Lounge is where the Hoodooist fell in love with Tony Conigliaro’s work. The townhouse itself is hidden away and fairly discreet behind the more demanding Zetter Hotel and surrounding restaurants, but the design inside is unlike anything else in the area.

Deep reds lend to the Victorian-boyishness of the venue – between fireplaces crowned with stuffed parasol-wielding cats, and boxing kangaroos. Don’t let the ping-pong table in the Games Room (which can be hired for events) fool you; every inch of the luscious plushness of the venue is decorated with eccentricity. I could claim that this up there with the Artesian and Bar Americain (Click HERE for Review!) as one of the best looking bars in London.

ZTHlobby

The cocktail list is equally impressive. Altering every few months, some classics stay ever present. The general theme (at least amongst the most fascinating drinks) is short, but strong and intense in flavour, as well as being a bit experimental without trying far too hard – just the Hoodooist’s style, and reminiscent of the Megaro Bar.

Every single drink on the house cocktail list is one the Hoodooist would enjoy. Each is 9.5 (as well as house cocktails from the past no longer on the menu), but other drinks and classics will be 10.5 pounds.

IMAG0542

Drie Van Drie (L), The Flintlock (R)

Let’s look at one of the shining glories of the list: The Flintlock. Beefeater 24 gin, gunpowder tea tincture, sugar, dandelion & burdock bitters, and Fernet Branca. It opens up with the Fernet Branca and gunpowder tea, leading to the strongest flavour of the drink: the dandelion sweetness. Sweet though it is, it never wanders far from the simmering deep fieriness of the more complex flavours.

The Drie Van Drie is present for whisky fans – infused with seaweed, with salted-liquorice bitters and sherry. Besides being a fantastic tipple, you may have to ask for another drop of the bitters to add a bit of complexity to it, or the whisky can overpower the rest of the cocktail. A very short drink, it still takes a while to enjoy with its strength and intensity. The seaweed is less of a punch-you-in-the-face flavour, but adds instead, an ambience to the experience. The sherry is unmistakable and warms the drinker nicely.

IMAG0544

Foreground: Constantinople (L), Les Fleurs du Mal (R); Background: Milk Collins (L), The Ivy (R)

For long drinks, the Milk Collins is an excellent choice – don’t fear the milk syrup, it is spectacularly welcoming to what would otherwise be a classic gin/lemon/sugar/soda combo. Normally fearing the long drink, even the Hoodooist took to the Milk Collins pretty quickly. Otherwise, there is the mysterious Ivy, Perrier Jouet Champagne with sugar that has been doused in ivy aromatics is a drink (though long), but be drunk quickly after a couple of minutes of breathing. The first half of the drink is fairly uninteresting, but the last half suddenly explodes with an enchanting greenness from the ivy. Apologies, but ‘enchanting greenness’ is the only way I could describe the ivy – you’ll know it when you taste it.

Let’s end with the ‘Stairway to Heaven’ of the ZTH bar: Les Fleurs du Mal. It was removed from the menu quite a while ago, but the bartenders still get orders for it from old fans. Ordering it might be met with a sigh. Absinthe, rose vodka, lemon and egg white – the drink certainly has the strong absinthe flavour, the rose is faded behind the citrus. It’s worth trying if you’ve gone through the rest of the menu.  It could do with a bit more rose, and less citrus.

Oh, and do not miss the anchovy-stuffed deep-fried olives, or the chocolate fudge. You will thank me later.

2012-09-22 21.50.07

Service is excellent, informative, and engaging. Bartenders are happy to elaborate on drinks, make suggestions and knock something up if necessary. The ZTH is crowded most of the time, but service is much better when crowded. Exhaustion tends to set in when the bar finally empties out, so make the most of the crowded hours.

At the end of it all, it is difficult for me to find fault with the Zetter Townhouse Cocktail Lounge. Tony C. really put himself into this bar, and the décor is exquisite. With impeccable service and drinks, it is a wonderful place to get away from the City and seclude yourself amongst the couches, pillars and curtains of the ZTH. Still ranking as one of my favourite venues in London.

Update Late 2014: Since some staff changes, there has been a slight decline in service, a shame considering how the bar excels in other ways.

Drinks: *****
Atmosphere: *****
Service: ** – ***

The Zetter Townhouse Cocktail Lounge,

49-50 St John’s Square,
London, EC1V 4JJ

http://www.thezettertownhouse.com/clerkenwell/bar

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11 comments on “The Zetter Townhouse Cocktail Lounge, Clerkenwell

  1. […] up with a drink ended with us going through the entire menu without remorse. Reminiscent of the Zetter Townhouse, drinks are short, but intense in flavour. Anyone who knows me is aware that I’m not a fan of […]

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  2. […] I grant them they deserve an award for it (If it was a concern about clashing reservations, see: Zetter Townhouse’s 2 hour slots). On the other hand: my drink was very good. La Medicacion contains Calle 23 […]

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  3. […] way to have a Victorian theme to a venue without going down this route (See: The Lost Angel, Zetter Townhouse). But really it’s up to you, this is just a […]

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  4. […] officially, “The Bar With No Name”, is another masterpiece by Tony Conigliaro of The Zetter Townhouse Cocktail Lounge (Click HERE for review!). Followers might know that I’m already a major fan of Tony C’s work, […]

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  5. […] is shocking that a place associated with the impressive Zetter Townhouse next door could be this terrible with service. I never see myself returning here. Horrific […]

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  6. […] that note. The Zetter Town House (click HERE for review) next door is part of the Zetter family like BBL, and we moved there after our round here, for bit […]

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  7. Hans says:

    Hello, after reading this remarkable article i am too glad
    to share my experience here with friends.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m glad you enjoyed it! It is still one of my favourite places in London.
      Unfortunately the last time I was their couple of weeks ago we were faced with one particularly snooty employee who was a bit annoying, but drinks and the other employees were on point. Just a heads up.
      Enjoy your night there! I encourage early bookings!

      Like

  8. […] Bar Termini is spreading like wild fire. Probably because Marco Arrigo, and Tony Conigliaro (of ZTH (Click HERE) and 69 Colebrooke (Click HERE) fame) decided to open it without announcement or event […]

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  9. […] 69 Colebrook Row, Bar Termini, and the Zetter Townhouse Clerkenwell – Tony Conigliaro is back! Working with the newly opened Zetter Townhouse Marylebone, Seymour’s […]

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  10. […] When the sun sets, go down to the Western Kalsa, by the port and botanical gardens, to see Christopher at the Bump Cocktail Bar on Via Cagliari – expect a smashing Dry Manhattan with Rye, or a Lagavulin Old Fashioned with a smoking sprig of rosemary, or ask him to knock something up with Cynar to get a fantastic Sicilian twist on a Julep. Having travelled Europe for cocktail tours, chat with him about fellow London bartenders from Luca of the Nightjar or Palermo-hailing Conigliaro of London’s 69 Colebrooke Row, Bar Termini, Seymour’s Parlour, or Zetter Townhouse Lounge. […]

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