GNH Bar, King’s Cross St. Pancras

Type of Bar: Hotel
Damage££-£££
Ideal for: Small Groups, Meetings

 

The Great Northern Hotel is home to three separate bars, two being intimate and snug, and then the more open, group oriented GNH Bar.

A few table oriented around the central bar under two enormous crystal chandeliers and a mirrored ceiling, the bar is certainly attractive, but also somehow repetitive in terms of style – a danger hotel bars across the city need to be careful of. We all know that ‘hotel bar’ look.

Service was generally attentive, but our first issue was asking about the ‘Afternoon Jaunt’ (a 2-for-1 cocktail deal for Saturdays 2PM-7PM), which they then told us was for a limited time only; until we pointed out it was still on their website. As of 14th Sept ‘14, their website still advertises their offer. But the good-natured staff decided to go ahead and offer the 2 for 1 anyway.

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The style of drinks is also distinctly ‘hotel’. We began with the Japanese Negroni, Nikka Japanese whisky with Aperol and Antica Formula is an interesting twist on the Negroni, but I must argue is more of an Italian twist on a Manhattan in terms of flavour. A relaxed drink that may not be a spectacle, but a decent drink nonetheless.

The following French Attitude was a bit stranger. Rhubarb infused cognac, lemon juice, gomme syrup, Crème de Cacao, Rhubarb bitters and topped with egg white ends up being a generally sweet, but otherwise flavourless muddle; probably by breaking my general 4-ingredient rule. This could probably make a better long drink.

Finally, the Old Chilli Monkey. I was really excited for this one. Oh my. Monkey Shoulder whiskey, home-made chilli and cinnamon syrup, Angostura and Rhubarb bitters. At first sip, two of us looked at each other thinking “Well, nice and spicy” until the burning started.
Mind you, we grew up on spice. But if after one sip your lips still feel that they’re hideously chapped with someone rubbing chilli powder into them for 10 minutes; YOU’VE GONE WRONG.
The drink could only be finished with a straw, even then, carefully.

 

Old Chilli Monkey (L); French Attitude (R)

Old Chilli Monkey (L); French Attitude (R)

The GNH Bar wants to appear experimental – except it is failing at it, I feel like classic cocktails it should stick to. The halfway decent Japanese Negroni is somewhat reliable with its almost classic quality; but the following drinks were a mess.  Imbalanced, and made with almost an amateurish excitement – paired with the initial advertising debacle, I can’t see myself returning to the GNH Bar soon, but look forward to the other bars and restaurants the hotel has to offer.

Drinks: ** (Ought to get * for value for money, but the Japanese Negroni favours)
Atmosphere: ***
Service: ***

 

GNH Bar

Great Northern Hotel,
Pancras Road,
London N1C 4TB

http://gnhbar.com/

Megaro Bar, King’s Cross – CLOSED

Type of Bar: BasementTheme
Damage££
Ideal for: DatePrivacy

NOTE: Unfortunately, as of Spring 2015, Megaro King’s X has been shut down. We will miss it dearly.

I’m glad I stumbled back into the Megaro Hotel after over a year. The garishly painted (yet not displeasingly so) building across from King’s Cross/St. Pancras is home to the Megaro Bar that does not get the credit it’s due.

When you enter the building, you enter the hotel restaurant, then take the stairs into the basement searching for ‘Cocktails and Answers’ and take your seat in either of the glamour days of Hollywood themed Dark Room or the Picture Room.

The Dark Room (my preference) is a dark, dimly lit space with auditorium seating and red velvet curtains galore. I adore this venue for quiet one-on-ones with friends or dates – especially the corner tables where you can completely draw the curtains around you for perfect privacy. The Picture Room, on the other hand, is a brighter space for hosting exhibitions (what you are forced to look at is luck of the draw) illuminated by cinematic lighting while you imbibe on director’s seats.

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Image courtesy of http://hotelmegaro.co.uk/

Among the Film Noir feel, the drinks are wonderfully modern; classics can be ordered off menu. The house cocktails , thankfully, stick to simplicity – knowing that in the world of drinking, less is more. The effortlessness emphasizes the harmony of the selected flavours, with a silent understanding that dandelion essence can be far more effective than ‘black pudding distillate’ (we all know of whom I speak). Each drink is as captivating and defiantly confident as one of the monochrome celluloid stars on the wall.

It is difficult to choose a favourite here – on what was supposed to be catching 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 sweeter drinks, but even the sweetest on the menu, such as the Chinese Courage (Columbian aged gin, Chinese plum cordial) is on the ball. The Lost Steps (Ocho Blanco, cardamom sweet tea, Chartreuse elixir)  is a tequila fan’s dream; the nose is strongly citrus, but the flavour shows very little, if any, hint of cardamom. The tea allows the notes of the tequila to unfold in a manner to savour the tequila’s various layers, smoothly and pleasantly. Three Feet Under is a spectacular work: Martell VSOP Cognac, Australian Stanton & Killen Muscat, bitters and white truffle honey. The muscat’s sweetness dominates the nose. On the palette, cognac does more for texture than flavour. It opens with the muscat, leading into a hint of citrus, and ending with a bang of the white truffle honey.

Unique and definitely worth trying is the Glory Box (Somerset brandy 5yr, Maraschino, lemon sherbet, dandelion & burdock) – seemingly trying too hard at first glance, instead provides a devilishly complex and layered libation that unravels to the palette. Land of Grace (Diplomatico Reserva Exclusiva, 10yr White Port, clover honey) could easily be my favourite.

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Epicolada (L) – Pina Colada washed with almonds; Three Feet Under (R) – Cognac, Muscat, white truffle honey and bitters

Service is swift, attentive and worth commending. And ending the evening with a Book of Answers for a little game of Magic 8 Ball was a nice touch – somehow adding bit of a Punchdrunk Productions vibe. If there is any warning to be given, it is mind the disorienting mirrors in the WCs – there is no glamourous way to walk into one.

All in all, the Megaro is a gem that pulls out all stops and is flamboyant where it counts. With impeccable service and drinks, it is a nice place to get away from the noisiness of the Gilbert Scott across the street and seclude yourself behind a velvet curtain. Worth a visit, and be prepared to bump into me.

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

Megaro
Belgrove St,
London WC1H 8AB

http://www.megarobar.co.uk/