Bourne and Hollingsworth Buildings, Clerkenwell

Type of Bar: Bar/Restaurant, Victorian, Vintage
Ideal for: Date, Small Groups, Large Groups, Lounging

You want a summer bar? We have a summer bar.

Bank Holiday Friday was the best afternoon to be at the third installment from the B&H Group, who’ve brought us classics like the Bourne & Hollingsworth Bar (Click HERE for Review!), and the Reverend JW Simpson (Review HERE!), but thankfully, this one isn’t in a basement.

Sun danced off the greenery outside and shone through the vast windows of the venue, illuminating the climbing wall-gardens and glorious mosaic bar that snakes along the beautifully bright venue. The summer heat wafted away by canopy fans, dear Powder Keg Diplomacy, this is how you do colonial-Victoriana right (and not be a douche about it).

The Hoodooist is in love with the venue, and whiled away a good few hours propped up on that gorgeous bar with his books, as a smattering of others laid back on couches and banquettes in conversation over prosecco. The bar isn’t the easiest to get to, which might be a good thing – the late evenings can bring crowds, so it being a bit hidden away keeps the afternoons wonderfully quiet to lounge.

 bourne and hollingsworth buildings cocktails

Cocktails have a signature B&H feel to them, fruits, berries, and distinct sweetness are a running theme.

Beginning with the New Willy Bourne – Monkey Shoulder Blended Malt stirred with Laphroaig, Campari and Cinzano Rosso sweet vermouth, finished with house bitters and lemon oils. Confident, the cocktail strides in with the initial Monkey Shoulder notes of creamy butterscotch, sweet and buttery, followed by the powerful oak and smoke of the Laphroaig, hints of iodine tracing behind alongside the Campari. A finish of the sweeter fruit notes of the Cinzano and lemon oils.

Easily the best of the night, and a must order on the menu.

The Baci is a surprisingly strong and punchy drink – Grappa shaken with strawberry vermouth, homemade Seville orange liqueur and a hint of citrus, finished with aromatic maraschino liqueur and a twist of grapefruit. The first millisecond of the sip seems blank, but then all of a sudden the orange and maraschino assault the drinker as the grappa develops – finishing on the strawberry vermouth. A fun cocktail, playful and summery. One will have to be prepared for the powerful citrus and sweet fruit flavours of this drink.

bourne and hollingsworth buildings cocktails

The New Willy Bourne

The Fig and Thyme Scofflaw is a powerfully flavoured cocktail – fig and thyme-infused cognac, lemon, vermouth and grenadine. The vanilla is strong on the nose, and the sweeter notes in the cognac come forward first, with the apple from the vermouth and grenadine, before giving way to the figs.
The West Indies Gimlet is exactly what it sounds like – Navy Strength Gin, Steve’s Falernum #7, fresh lime juice and house bitters. The lime is a tad overwhelming here, and distracts from the complexity of the Falernum, it’s the one thing I’d change about this otherwise bright, citrusy drink.

bourne and hollingsworth buildings cocktails

L-R: The Rum & Plum, the West Indies Gimlet

The Cydonian Smash brings quince and thyme jam smashed together with fresh ginger, lemon wedges and mead, rolled with rye whisky and frozen with crushed ice. Other than the quince and bits of ginger and thyme, little can be tasted in this cocktail, maybe because of the quickly melting crushed ice. There is a bit of rye that comes through, but struggling.

Finally, the Rum & Plum stands out with the biggest price tag at 12 pounds (versus the others at around 8.50), Santa Teresa 1796 rum stirred with prune vermouth and bitters. Unfortunately, the raised priced tag does little for the actual drink, which is overpowering and rather sickly sweet.

bourne and hollingsworth buildings cocktails

L-R: The Cydonian Smash, the Fig & Thyme Scofflaw

At the bar, service is excellent. Even when crowds roll in (around 7PM), drinks come in swift, with close attention paid to customers. Bartenders are keen to discuss drinks and provide recommendations, always a plus.

bourne and hollingsworth buildings cocktails

The Bourne and Hollingsworth Buildings are a beautiful and atmospheric addition to the B&H collection, and can teach many a thing or two about running a summer bar. Spotless surrounds and impeccable service make it a must-see. The cocktails suit the venues style, and still have a certain B&H tendency to sweetness. It might be a bit out of the way, but still garners quite a bit of attention, and recommend it for an early escape to finish that book you’ve had lying on the coffee table for the past month. It’s a walk, but worth the trek.

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


Bourne and Hollingsworth Buildings

42 Northampton Road,
London EC1R 0HU


Bourne & Hollingsworth Bar, Fitzrovia

Type of Bar: Basement, Speakeasy, Quirky, Vintage, Tiny
Ideal for: After Work, Nightcap, Small Groups, Date

When the B&H Bar opened a few years ago, a marked a then-change in cocktail culture and turned the tide toward a fascination with speakeasies, gin, and vintage-England. It was a tastemaker, and has developed into a brand name with its sister bars (Reverend JW Simpson: Click HERE for Review!, and the B&H Buildings, Review HERE!) and its vintage and chap themed events from the Blitz Party to Belle Epoque.

Bourne Hollingsworth London Cocktails

And for those years, this tiny, one-square-granny’s-living-room (complete with a distinct odour of damp) was a spot the Hoodooist would pop by for a last drink before heading home when in the area.

However, the new menu has taken a Spring turn in not *quite* the best direction. Said direction has been the elimination of many of the drinks that stood out, and resulting homogenisation of flavours and ingredients – the new menu now boasts a numerous (easily 25 or more) cocktails, that seem to blend into each other instead of standing with independent personalities, and taste too similar to each other (whereas Rev JW Simpson did the opposite and developed a greater variety of flavours than before, the B&H Buildings provide a greater variety as well).

The new menu has a tendency towards being incredibly sweet (so perfect if you enjoy sweet!), and an overbearing of berries and gin – so for the evening we tried our best to go for those that stood out.

Bourne Hollingsworth London Cocktails

L-R: The Madame Elisa’s Breakfast; The Honey Berry Bison

The then Cherry Sidecar has reverted to a slightly more classic Sidecar (Cognac, with marmalade instead of triple sec) in the Madame Elisa’s Breakfast – a drink that stood about a bit further from the others of the evening with the tartness of the marmalade – probably the most enjoyed of the evening in its simplicity.

The Honey Berry Bison goes for Zubrowka vodka and berries, shaken with lemon juice, acacia honey and egg white. Berries range from rasp- to black- and the cocktail itself has a distinctly cinnamon flavour after the first few sips – but it doesn’t take away from the intense sweet berries of the cocktail.

Tequila finally takes the stage in the Plum Plume: Reposado tequila shaken with lime juice, plum wine and bitters, topped with lemonade – but comes off without much flavour outside the plum wine and lemonade’s sweetness. But at least that went down better than the Black Jack – Bourbon with spiced honey whisky liqueur, seasonal fruits, mint infused sugar and lemon that was entirely too much to drink when it tastes like an iced glassful of watered down Jack Daniel’s Honey and berries.

Bourne Hollingsworth London Cocktails

Service is good, even on days when the room is crowded, you can trust that someone will be served. Often, there are free tables (especially weekdays) to walk-in, but for Saturday nights, a booking is recommended. Normally quite chilled out and relaxed, event nights can get very crowded – so do check in advance.

With other great bars like Rev JW and B&H Buildings in their roster, it won’t take long for a banging new menu to be on the cards, but for now, this spring/summer might have to wait.

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


Bourne & Hollingsworth

Rathbone Place,
London W1T 1JF

Reverend JW Simpson, Fitzrovia

Type of Bar: Basement, Speakeasy, Vintage, Quirky
Ideal for: Date, Small Groups, After Work

A door is not a door, and a wall is not a wall at the Reverend JW SimpsonBourne and Hollingsworth’s sister bar (Click HERE for Review!) resides in a basement apartment just minutes away in Fitzrovia. The third of the B&H bars being the B&H Buldings, Clerkenwell (Review HERE!).

Named after an ex-resident of the space, the apartment now houses white banquettes set up against tattered wallpaper, overseen by a large and impressive bar, amusingly presented as ‘windows’ to the visitors, from where the drinks are served. There is a strange kind of shabby-Art-Deco-dissonance about the venue, especially with honkytonk, swamp rock, and everything from the Talking Heads to Red Hot Chilli Peppers playing in the background.

On a weekend night, the venue can get swamped with people, so reservations are highly recommended – but this doesn’t harm service too much. It’s swift and attentive even with the crowd.

Reverend JW Simpson Cocktails

The two menus – one seasonal and one permanent (in the form of a paper fortune teller!) – have running themes: light, fruity, but there are the occasional heavyweights like the beautiful Larder Batch (The Hoodooist’s favourite at the Cocktails in the City 2014 event, Click HERE for Review).

So whether you pick out a seasonal drink, or play a schoolyard game to make your order, the Hoodooist tried a few from each for your consideration!

Reverend JW Simpson Cocktails

The Fir Douglas Rathbone, Esq.

The Fir Douglas Rathbone, Esq. immediately catches the eye: Rathbone New London Dry Gin, homemade Douglas Fir liqueur, lemon juice, and a touch of maple syrup – finished with a spray of bergamot oils. The Hoodooist could sit back and just sniff this one all day. The fir and bergamot is sharp and fragrant, incredible. However, considering the ingredients, there are two ways to approach this cocktail – the heavy maple syrup sinks to the bottom of the glass, so either you stir it to spread the sweetness throughout the drink, or just drink it straight.

Drinking it straight results in the bottom half becoming a sweeter version of the top half – which, though wonderfully piney, and strongly juniper, risks tasting like disinfectant (although I think that comes more from the scent than from the actual flavour!). Personally, I rather enjoyed the bright, vivid drink, but it is easy to see how it can be an acquired drink for some. Stirring it will result in a maple sugariness toning down the tartness, while keeping in like with the evergreen theme.

Reverend JW Simpson Cocktails

L-R: The Blue Leaf Clover; and the Pomegranate Haze

The Blue Leaf Clover from the seasonal menu goes straight for the Bourne and Hollingsworth favourite flavours: berries. Rathbone New London Dry Gin, homemade blackberry and rosemary syrup, lemon juice and egg white result in a drink that is very easy sipping, smooth and delicate. It might not be complex, or a showstopper, but does its job as a refreshing semi-sweet cocktail you’d want at a picnic on the kind of sunny mornings we’ve had this Easter. And you can’t argue with the beautiful garnish that comes with it.

The Hoodooist’s love affair with Mastiha gum mastic liqueur is back with the Pomegranate Haze! Hendricks Distilled Gin, Mastiha liqueur, pomegranate tea syrup, lemon juice. This is not as sweet as you’d expect, and has a distinct earthiness a friend described as ‘like being in a forest’ – which I find is characteristic of Mastiha. There is an added bitter depth from the pomegranate tea syrup, slightly herbal, somewhat spicy, this drink in surprisingly adventurous.

Reverend JW Simpson Cocktails

Foreground: The Gardenier; Background: The Rumplestiltskin

A young apple is used instead of an ice cube in the Gardenier: Aged Calvados, Suze Aperitif, honey and orange liqueurs, apple shrub. The first sip of this drink is overwhelmingly sweet, the Calvados, honey and shrub assault the palate – but after the first sip, it seems to mellow out a bit, with help from the bitter Suze, whose spice complements the apple nicely. Still, a bit too much on the sweet side for myself, but a useful dessert drink nonetheless. This is more suited to autumn in front of a fire.

The Rumplestiltskin, on the other hand, is sweet in less appealing ways: Rum, homemade apple and spiced Falernum syrups, lime juice and dry chocolate liqueur present an intensely sugary long cocktail with a bit of a chocolate kick. This cocktail seems a bit jumbled and confused. Not far off, the Serena, with Polish Vodka, carrot shrub, vanilla liqueur, lemon and honey; lacks character and seems to taste more berryish than carrot, though the vanilla makes an appearance.

Reverend JW Simpson Cocktails

The Larder Batch

The Larder Batch really does need to be eaten with steak. An excellent short bourbon drink, Four Roses Small Batch Bourbon, Pinot Noir reduction, seasoned with pink peppercorn, spiced cardamom and Angostura bitters. Here the Reverend presents us with a steak dinner in a cocktail format; the natural winter spiciness and vanilla/honey sweetness of the Four Roses Small Batch, and the bite of the peppercorn and cardamom suits the Pinot Noir (PIIINOOOOT NOIIR…sorry) reduction perfectly. The Reverend excels here, with a style that is daring and stands out from the rest of the menu. Would love to see more in the style of the Larder Batch next season.

Reverend JW Simpson Cocktails

More adventurous than its original cousin, the Rev still displays a certain amount of conservatism with the flavours explored on the menu. Nonetheless, there are a large number of drinks to choose from, each bringing something new to the table – they know vintage, and they do it right.

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

Reverend JW Simpson,

32 Goodge Street, Fitzrovia,
London, W1T 2QJ

Sovereign Loss, Brixton

Type of Bar: Vintage, Tiny, Late Night, Speakeasy
Damage: ££
Ideal for: Date, Small Groups, Nightcap

The launch of Sovereign Loss in Brixton this week marks Brixton Road/Coldharbour Lane as a major cocktail hub in the South now, joining stars like the Shrub and Shutter and Three Eight Four (Click HERE for review!). With the brand ambassadors of Aperol and Whitley Neill Gin running the show, Sovereign Loss is bound to be a South London star. As a major fan of Chris Dennis (of Trailer Happiness fame), having him behind the bar means this was a launch the Hoodooist would certainly not miss.

Pressing the buzzer at the Trade Entrance door just beside the Prince of Wales, one climbs up the stairs, past a smoking terrace, to a candlelit, intimate space that could be best described as Cuban Art Deco. Initially quite relaxed, the lights get darker and music louder as the night goes on – and on it goes – with the 24 hour license, the weekend sees the bar open till 5AM, on Sundays till last man standing! But not being a club, this exactly where the Hoodooist wants to find himself instead of some riotous oonce-oonce shindig at 3AM – just chilling with an El Presidente.

Sovereign Loss Negroni

The cocktail list is short, but impressive, and matching the Art Deco surrounds, with a good balance between short and long drinks (but rather heavy on the orange). Let’s begin with the most impressive.

The Canopy, now this was a surprise. The Hoodooist so rarely enjoys a long drink, but heavens, this is incredible. And so simple! Whitley Neill gin, orange sherbert, Curacao, lemon and soda. Being a smooth, subtle gin, Whitley Neill is excellent with its citrus for a cocktail like the Canopy. It beings with a burst of the orange sherbert, such an excellent flavour, moving to a short expression of the gin, and settling on the Curacao. A bit on the sweet side, but well balanced with tartness. A wonderful drink to begin with. But, enjoy it quickly, it dilutes easily.

The Presidente is a fairly classic El Presidente with Santa Teresa Reserva rum, Cinzano dry vermouth, Curacao and pomegranate. I adore this rum for the Presidente, fruits and caramel, followed by winter spices and oak. The Cinzano’s dryness does not overpower this wonderful rum and neither does the pomegranate. Easily one of the best short drinks on this menu.

The Metropole was a very surprising drink: Courvoisier Exclusif, sweet vermouth, Dubonnet, Peychaud’s and Orange bitters. The initial flavour is intensely chocolate, with strains of the CV Exclusif’s Borderies Cru fruit lines simmering in. Halfway through, the other ingredients begin to shine, the vermouths open up to the palate, followed by the orange bitters in the background. A very intriguing, but heavy drink.

The Metropole

The Metropole

The next two drinks have incredible potential, but are a bit imbalanced to intense sweetness.

The traditional, classic New Corpse Reviver: Louis Royer VS Pommeau (which I am deducing would be Louis Royer VS Cognac, apple must, with apple brandy) and sweet vermouth follows Craddock’s recipe in the 1930’s Savoy Handbook, going to show that not all classic recipes are intensely dry or bitter. This have a very heavy mouthfeel, and is intensely sweet. If you are looking for a dessert drink, this would be a good one.

As we said with the Pisco Embassy last week (Click HERE for review), Pisco once again proves to be a difficult ingredient to use in cocktails. The Apiscopalian brings Pisco Porton, Aperol and peach to the table. In order to balance the sweetness of the peach with the Aperol and strong Pisco, the drink swings to the opposite end of the spectrum with a thick, syrupy texture making it difficult to drink. The intense sweetness, if you aren’t a fan of it, can make it rather sickly. Not a fan of this drink, but at our table of four, one did enjoy it for the first half of the glass.

Finally, the unfortunate Journalist, taken out of the Savoy Handbook again, Beefeater gin, Curacao, sweet and dry vermouth, citrus, bitters, was not only too overbearing with the orange and citrus throughout, but when made, was overdone with the orange peel spray, resulting in being too oily.

The Apiscopalian

The Apiscopalian

Serivce-wise, with Joe and Chris, it is impossible to have anything negative with the service, whereas kinks regarding table-service are being ironed out once it gets crowded. Regarding cocktails, the Presidente, Canopy and Metropole stood out as winners, with the New Corpse Reviver running up. Though orange pervades the menu, it is not tiresome, thankfully. And though the Journalist and Apiscopalian do not quite work, you can tell by the recipe.

A fantastic bartender, a great design, and an incredible 24 hour license make Sovereign Loss a perfect late night spot when partying in the area. Hoodooist Recommended!

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


Sovereign Loss,

469 Brixton Road,
London SW9 8HH

Cecil’s UFF Tea Ball, London Bridge

Type of Bar: Basement, Vintage
Ideal for: Party, Date, Small Groups, Large Groups, Birthdays


Tucked away down the industrial alleyway of 8 Holyrood Street, Cecil’s is a basement venue that on weekends goes from bar to 1930s glam with their galas. With Cecil himself on stage and the wonderfully charismatic Jim McMahon as host, the night wasn’t short of incredible entertainment and fantastic service. We have been to Cecil’s before, as we covered their Paris in London Grand Marnier pop up in London Cocktail Week (Click HERE for review!).


The UFF Tea Ball is characterised by its focus on the 30s and formal wear (always a good excuse to throw on a tux), with varying themes now and again, this time: 1930s Shanghai; with Cecil singing classic tunes on stage in front of a small dancefloor, two large booths on either side of the room and a scattering of tables among the indoor foliage.

Greeted at the door with an Oolong tea based punch, downstairs we begin with a New York of the East: Maker’s Mark Bourbon, a splash of Umeshu plum wine, sugar, bitters, orange twist. Essentially an Old Fashioned with Umeshu, it brought a brightness to the classic, with a lasting earthiness in the aftertaste. An interesting twist. The Cecil’s Rum Swizzle is one of those effortless and classic drinks that demands no pretention or fascination, and in many ways epitomises the style of Cecil’s cocktails, it’s quietly confident and here to get the job done: Santa Teresa Claro rum, Velvet Falernum, spiced sugar syrup from Barbados, lime juice, bitters. I’m going to go ahead and assume the ‘spiced sugar syrup from Barbados’ is the spiced sugar cane syrup that is mixed in with rum to make Velvet Falernum, but I could be wrong. What you get is a clean, soft cocktail that really is a quintessential rum swizzle.


The New York of the East

The New York of the East

The star of the evening would definitely be the Aperitif No. 20: El Jimador Reposado tequila, lemon, marmalade, sugar, splash of Kamm and Sons – bright, spry, lively, and effervescent. Citrusy, but only the best of ways, the tart sweetness of the marmalade and warm earthiness of the Kamm and Sons preventing a dreadful leap into sourness.


There was, still a hiccup with the Cecil’s Club Vodka Highball, which might appeal to some, but came off a bit *too* plain: Belenkaya Vodka, Umeshu, stripped cucumber, soda. Besides a distant umeshu after-taste, my bias against this might be the same reason I dislike so many of Hendrick’s Gin signature drinks, you could just eat a cucumber with a shot of vodka. So I am reluctant to judge this harshly since it could be a personal dislike, although it wasn’t a hit across the table for its plainness.

L-R: Cecil's Rum Swizzle; Cecil's Club Vodka Highball

L-R: Cecil’s Rum Swizzle; Cecil’s Club Vodka Highball

Service-wise, as aforementioned, Cecil’s was flawless. Especially with their hosting and shout outs of several birthday parties that seem to take place there. Maybe a *slightly* stricter policy on the formal dress code, after all, ticket holders paid for an event to come out in gowns and tuxes, and the random fellow with shades indoors and his shirt hanging out over his jeans is bit of a dampener – but I suppose everyone needs comic relief.

In short? Cecil’s UFF Tea Ball provides a stimulating night out without the oppressiveness of say, the Blitz Ball, or the general offishness of most of the London Vintage scene. Along with fabulous hosts, and simple, classic cocktails, it’s definitely worth a knees up.

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



8 Holyrood Street,
London, SE1 2EL.

Bar Americain @ Brasserie Zedel, Soho

Type of Bar: Vintage, French, Bar/Restaurant
Ideal for: Date, Small Groups, Classics


The Brasserie Zedel is so far (up until the Beaumont Hotel, coming soon) Corbin and King’s largest venture, spanning three floors: the ZL Café as you enter, below it is the Crazy Coqs, and finally the Bar Americain and Brasserie. The tiered gastronomicon is a feast for the eyes, and with good reason appeared in the top 10 of Archtectural Digest’s Most Beautiful Venues.
The Hoodooist adores the ZL café as a respite from the bustling Piccadilly Circus, and cannot resist the charm of the Francophone staff and spot-on French café interior – who needs a Eurostar ticket? Especially with the wine list which, though short, has much to offer in quality and price.
Down the stairs, you find yourself in an Art Deco paradise, faced with two very different bars: The Crazy Coqs and the Bar Americain.

The Crazy Coqs Cabaret provides a Lynchian red and monochrome setting for daily cabaret, comedy and jazz performances. Where drinks (10 pounds a pop) are concerned, we find top-shelf liquors served up in classics, suiting the nature of the bar perfectly.

Next, getting past the dashing host of the Bar Americain: the sumptuous venue, again arrayed with the Zedel’s trademark illuminated pillars, is decorated with images of aeroplanes and Sylvain Chomet-esque sketches in a dim-lit environment. Very easy to relax in; fantastic to bring in a couple of friends, and perfect for a date.

You’re faced with classics and a short, but enterprising list of house cocktails. The selection is varied in style, from the bright and lively French Aperitif and Parisian Summer; to the deeper and darker Chrysler Cocktail and Valentino’s Revenge.

The Josephine is a spectacular accomplishment: Golden Rum, Lillet Rouge, Campari, Benedictine, bitters. The initial assault of golden sweetness sinks into the depth of the Lillet Rouge, finally brought up to distant herbal simmer to balance with the Campari and Benedictine. Smooth, and surprisingly easy to drink, the Josephine is quite possibly one of my favourite drinks here.

Lee Hyde’s expertise creates spectacular drinks, but some of the recipes in an attempt to be adventurous, overload the senses with too many ingredients, for example: the Chrysler Cocktail that has such potential, ends up confused and muddled. The Chrysler, even in theory sounds like it needs to lose something, but would then taste wonderful if it did: Cognac, Chambord, port, Campari, Orange Curacao and bitters. On the other hand, the Metropolis’ simple combination of Crémant, cherry liqueur, Orgeat, bitters and lime is a winning combination.

Not to mention, here, classics rule the roost. A whiskey Old Fashioned to knock your socks off and a Martini for days. Beautifully done.


Finally, the Brasserie Zedel – I’m not going to spend long on this, I’ll just say that French friends quickly took to the brasserie, and it certainly is fun to see a Parisian squeal and swear happily at the sight of the menu. Prices can range between 11 pounds for Prix Fixe menus, or go crazy a la carte. The versatile prices mean a wide range of patrons, and therefore always busy. Booking in advance for a Saturday night is necessary, and pre-theatre dinners are packed. There is a selection of tables kept aside, so if you’re walking in, you might still be lucky with a small party.


The Bar Americain and Zedel are impeccable. The variety in what it has to offer makes it a destination all unto itself – on a night out, we struggle to stay in one venue and normally dine or drink in each one.

I’ve always expressed my fondness for Corbin and King ventures, and Zedel was actually my introduction to them. I was similarly impressed by their Fischer’s, Colbert, and Delaunay (Click HERE for review!). I excitedly look forward to the Beaumont Hotel (2014).

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


Bar Americain @ Brasserie Zedel

20 Sherwood Street
London W1F 7ED