By Anastasia Hancock.
It wasn’t the most glamorous start to evening. I was due to meet my friend for a drink at Marble Arch before heading over the road to the launch of Europe’s first Patrón bar, designed to showcase the range of exclusive Patrón tequilas, opening that night at the swanky Cumberland Hotel. But decent watering holes are pretty thin on the ground round there, so after a warm glass of wine in a personality-free pub, we quickly made a beeline for the ‘ultra-premium’ cocktails we’d been promised.
We wandered into the airy glass atrium at the reception of the hotel, which was already quite a change from last place we were in (a self-styled Pheonix Nights boozer where crisps trodden into the carpet and lipstick–smeared glasses were making a comeback). One of the perfectly manicured bodies at the desk pointed towards the separate bar, where sleek women wielding clipboards waited to usher us in.
I sidled into the room, and awkwardly followed a model-esque waitress sashaying down the ramp towards the Patrón bar, where I quickly realised it was the Night of the Beautiful People.
Clutching one of the colourful tequila-based cocktails being held aloft by the waiting staff who made their way serenely through the thronging masses, we spotted a free table in a corner where we could gaze admiringly at the Patrón bar traffic without having to get too close to sharp suits and cheekbones that could cut glass. We walked through the stylish glass and chrome bar and made ourselves comfortable.
Unfortunately, to get there we had to make the trip across the dance floor where men with shirts unbuttoned much further than is acceptable danced with ladies swaying to the dance music coming from the girl DJ while trying to keep hold of the fur (real, natch!) coat slung casually over their shoulders. A quick trip to the bathroom confirmed what was already expected; they were standing at least three deep in front of the mirrors.
I scuttled back to my friend who was happily digging into a small bowl of thick black bean soup. It was pleasant enough, we agreed, as we tucked our napkins into our collars, but somewhat of a bizarre choice of canapé; as was the mini spaghetti and meatball. I felt a little sorry for the people that were trying their level best to enjoy a meal in the adjoining restaurant, which was only separated from the noisy launch by a length of rope. No doubt the food was classy (the restaurant is run by proprietor and celebrity chef Gary Rhodes), but tinkling glasses and muted conversation there was not, and most of the diners had given up on trying to make themselves heard across the table.
Luckily, the dazzling array of cocktails distracted us, and we happily worked our way through a coffee martini, which tasted deliciously of ice cream, an apple mojito and, the star of the show, a tequila shot encased in a chocolate cup.
Sadly, the glamour was short lived, as no sooner were we getting used to the opulence of the Patrón bar than the night drew to a close and we found ourselves at the bus stop waiting for the 137 bus.
Read more about new bars, restaurants, pubs, and club in London, check out the Fluid London Top 10 of new venues.