Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Paint Pot Cocktails & New Look Soho Bar

By Cat McGovern

It’s 6pm and I am waiting for my friend, Ro, to arrive. I am standing in a queue at Urban Outfitters on Oxford Street, waiting to be let in. Ro meets me in said queue and stands patiently. The rope falls and we all pile down the stairs. I discovered that Vogue’s Fashion’s Night Out is on the same day as the Graphic launch party and as the party doesn’t start until 7.30pm, it means we have ample time to shop, drink and eat. Ingenious!

We glide between Dotty P, River Island, Gap, Banana Republic and Oasis, seizing all the free treats along the way. On our travels we win a £50 voucher each from Oasis. Today is a good day.

Having been sufficiently fed and watered, the time has come to go to Graphic. We navigate the streets of Soho with trepidation, and we are a little tipsy, so one wrong turn can put us in the completely wrong direction. Thank God for iPhones.

At Graphic our names are crossed off the list as we excitedly enter. The place is completely jammed packed, but we manage to nab a couple of leather stools at the front. A rather fetching lady wanders about, with what appears to be paint pots. We catch her eye and she comes over and places two pots on the table. I, perplexed, ask what she has given us, and she responds by saying ‘Yellow’. I think, ‘gosh am I really out of touch with cocktails? I cannot appear to not be in the know.’ I politely smile and look to Ro for assistance. She, thankfully, is as confused as me. Fortunately a menu is on the table and we discover that it is a Paint Tin Punch, which has different types of gin in each colour. This particular one has a strong peach flavour and is gloriously refreshing.

Ro takes a look around the bar. She comes back to the table disgruntled, complaining that Graphic is trying too hard to be from Shoreditch. I say that that is its concept, an East London bar in Central London. She’s still not impressed. The garage doors with single letter graffiti that line the right hand wall originated in her sacred East. Even the prints of the alphabet scattered around the venue are from East too. I roll my eyes and point at the ladies with the trays of canapés to distract her.

It works and the bites are samples from the menu. We scramble to get as many different canapés as possible, as we know they will not last long. The lamb koftas are deliciously succulent and the squid is soft with a delicate batter, littered in chillies. The tomato bruschetta is really fresh and a delight with a sip of ‘Yellow’.

Wanting more cocktails, I leave Ro to stew and head to the bar. I already knew before attending that Graphic is big on gin. It hosts a fortnightly event called The Juniper Society, as Facebook alerts me every so often, where lovers of all things gin can meet and sample some brands with likeminded people. I have been meaning to go for ages, but now that I have seen the venue, it is firmly on my to-do list.

Behind the bar is an impressive amount of gins. I lust over them as the barman makes me a ‘Red’. I love gin and the thought of all this gin under one roof makes me giddy.

I plonk the ‘Red’ down, which is made with Beefeater this time, and see if Ro has calmed down. She hasn’t, but I am hoping alcohol can remedy this.

Suddenly the music cuts to Spandau Ballet’s ‘Gold’. Before this, it was a wicked blend of mash-ups being played, so the change in musical direction is noticed by all. A server comes over to a table of ten and places a gold paint pot down, with an old-skool glittering gold boom-box. Confused, I consult the menu once again, to find that if you order the ‘Gold Paint Tin Punch’ for a hefty £95, you get a paint pot keg with Tanqueray, organic pineapple juice, citrus juices and organic honey. You also receive a bottle of Perrier Jouet. But if you are super fly and with a spare £15K you can get Tony Hadley to sing ‘Gold’ live. What a brilliant place. I think I have just found my new ginny home and I didn’t have to go East to get there. Result.

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