The Cocktail Trading Company Development Bar & Table (can we just call it CTC? Cool, okay) has been one of the most long-awaited openings in the cocktail world of 2015 after generating buzz for months now. And probably what the brasserie upstairs, Central & Co, needed to up its cocktail game.
The basement is tiny, if you’re lucky you might bag a couch (book in advance!) – and I recommend you find a good seat, because time can fly here! Dim-lit and cosy, the 80s playlist really makes the venue. Well, that and the incredible drinks and service provided by the Olly/Andy/Elliot trinity.
It’s probably worth mentioning that with 7 cocktail awards between them, it is difficult to go wrong with a good old classic here. About half the menu is classics, but the team will happily go off menu if you ask, as they did for a spectacularly constructed Campari-heavy Negroni Sbagliato (Vermouth, Campari, Prosecco).
But let’s move on to the house cocktails!
Star of the night would easily be the For Whom the Bell Bols (oh yes, puns, go with it. And yes, it *is indeed* served in a bell): Lavender and Chamomile infused Bols Genever, Golden Syrup 1:1, lemon juice and egg white, topped with a shortbread. Firstly, shortbread with the egg white and Golden Syrup is amazing. Secondly, so wonderful to see more of Bols Genever, sadly not used in the London scene as much as it could be. The malty texture of the Bols suits the combo of flavours so wonderfully, with the lavender and chamomile sweeping up the drinker initially, followed by the brighter pine flavour of the Bols and hints of its signature smoky spiciness – though that spiciness is rendered more subtle with the addition of the Golden Syrup. An incredible drink, a sweeter flavour for those who don’t do sweet.
The Urn-Aged Corpse Reviver No.2, is an intriguing one. ‘Egyptian Embalming Gin’, fortified honey wine, mandarin liqueur, lemon juice and absinthe. The Egyptian Embalming gin was certainly intriguing, keeping with the ‘corpse’ theme, the team wanted to bring out the gin botanicals commonly found in Egyptian embalming fluid. And honey wine similarly in theme. The most powerful flavour yet is the mandarin, with the gins spicier and more herbal botanicals following, the sweetness of the honey wine throughout. Managing to remain citrusy without becoming too sweet, and avoiding the overdose of absinthe that many Corpse Reviver No.2s suffer, this is a wonderful take on a classic. Not to mention the wonderful presentation!
However, the Welcome to Kentucky, Have a Nice Day: Jim Beam, ginger and plum infusion, Yuzu juice, matcha tea, was a confusing one. Between us, it felt like a bit too much happening at the same time. The Jim Beam comes through quite clearly. After a couple of sips you begin to notice the underlying thick sweetness of the matcha, the ginger and a very light citrus of the yuzu, and maybe it is a matter of personal taste, but it felt like too much at once. (Although, do call the number on the menu under this drink.)
Finally, the #FESTIVALCHIC is presented the most strangely – in a welly. This is a great example of the wonderful service expected at CTC. The concoction: Wray & Nephew rum, Cinzano Bianco, lychee liqueur, cranberry, lemon juice, is certainly not the Hoodooist’s style, turning out to be far sweeter than he would normally drink. The lychee and cranberry stand out the most, the rum and vermouth downplayed slightly. But while chatting over it, the team offered to add in lemon juice, Campari and salt to actually make a fantastic, well balanced apertivo that I’d recommend.
So though the #FESTIVALCHIC is a naturally sugary drink for the sweet tooth, I highly appreciate the team for going out of their way to balance it further.
Really, aside from the wonderful music and quirky drinks, the service (as I’ve stressed before, being the most important aspect of a bar) is what makes the Cocktail Trading Co a definite visit when in the area. Highly recommended, a drink like For Whom the Bell Bols is not to be missed.
The Cocktail Trading Company
Basement @ Central and Co., 22 Great Marlborough St.,
London, W1F 7HU.