The scene: The interior of what was once the Pearl Assurance building in Holborn is a grand, formal affair with high ceilings, marble pillars and thousands of pearls hanging in strands between booths of seats and from walls and chandeliers. It’s not the most original or imaginative of drinking environments, but you will definitely feel you’ve ticked the “posh drinks” box.
The grub: The adjoining restaurant serves modern French cuisine.
Behind the bar: We’re here to try the Salad Bar cocktails, which, thanks to the alchemy-like skills of mixologist Anthony Balik and head chef Jun Tanaka are in a drinks class of their own. We start with a Waldorf, made using walnut-infused vodka and muddled grapes, served with a side of grape jelly.
Second we marvel at the flavours swirling in the Greek, created by stirring gin with tomato consommé and cucumber ice cubes.
Last, and our unanimous favourite, we try the Thai; chilli-infused cachaça, mango and papaya juice, peppered with chilli slices – it’s sweet, refreshing, spicy and absolutely delicious.
These drinks are for sipping and will open your eyes to the possibilities of mixology.
Bill please: Cocktails £13.75.
Verdict: It’s hard to go back to vodka and coke after this, although the slightly sterile vibe in the bar itself isn’t such to encourage an all-night stay.
252 High Holborn, WC1V 7EN
– Frankie Mullin