By Rebecca Brett.
My Nan and Granddad once owned a hotel in Clacton-on-Sea, on the seafront, called the Waldorf. To me – an eight-year-old child - it was palatial and opulent. It was grand, imposing and an amazing place to play hide and seek with my sisters and cousins every summer holiday. I loved it, so when they decided to get old and sell it, I was heartbroken.
Almost 18 years later and I was invited to the Waldorf once again. This time, instead of a twee seaside resort and 20-room B&B surrounded by seagulls, it was the impressively striking Waldorf Hilton on Aldwych. Surrounded by the bright lights of the theatre district, it is also the brand new home to Good Godfrey’s cocktail bar.
I was invited to see how the original patisserie that once stood proud at the hotel had been transformed in to a bar named after the former leader of the house band, Howard Godfrey, from way back in the 1920s.
And I thought the Clacton hotel was opulent. Not so much compared to this place.
We arrived at Good Godfrey’s cocktail bar via the main door of the hotel. It was easy to find. We just followed the noise of cheer and clinking glasses. We sat down on huge comfortable chairs which had so many cushions I couldn’t decide if they were there to secure me tightly to the seat or protect my derriere from a fall after one too many cocktails.
The bar was buzzing with after-work drinkers holding countless colourful cocktails. We got straight into the menu to choose one for ourselves and, following a recommendation, I chose the Refined Madam made with premium Tanqueray No.10 gin, rose liqueur, fresh lime, cardamom syrup and lavender bitters. I love a floral cocktail so it was easy to say yes. It arrived on a tray with a spritz of perfume no less; refined madam, indeed.
For my friend, a Waldorf-tini. Being the magpie that she is (not an actual magpie, just to clarify), she was tempted by the fact that this cocktail is served with edible gold as well as a potent mix of Grey Goose vodka, ginger bitters and Noilly Prat Dry Vermouth stirred in a golden shaker.
To say that the cocktails are decadent is an understatement. Every cocktail has been carefully created by head mixologist Nelson Bernardes, taking a contemporary spin on traditional favourites including Hot Gin Punch served in a teapot and the Astor Hip Flask served in (you guessed it) a hipflask so that the punter can help themselves. Unfortunately, it’s not for keeps.
With all the alcohol going to our heads it was essential to sample some of the dishes on offer. The menu is a posh tapas affair; tiger prawns, duck spring rolls, butternut squash, red onion & feta pie, lemongrass-infused chicken skewers, Thai Surimi cod cakes, and fenugreek lamb koftas graced our table in mini portions (not for those with a huge appetite). For us, it was just enough to take the edge of the alcoholic kicks we were consuming.
So it’s not about the food at Good Godfrey’s cocktail bar but surprise surprise, the cocktails, which are the reason why this place is packed to the rafters. With a book full of cocktails to choose from, as well as a large selection of spirits (including 19 gin brands alone), there’s something for everyone when it comes to ordering a drink.
This is not the bar you come to for a quick drink after work unless your money is flowing as free as Angel Falls, but if you’re in the area for a special occasion or perhaps a delightful drink before a theatre show, then I thoroughly recommend it.
Looking for further cocktail bar inspiration? Check out the Top 10 Best Cocktail Bars in London