By Rebecca Brett.
What is it with Chelsea Flower Show that makes London go all flower power crazy? It’s not just the surrounding bars and restaurants that get involved. Venues far and wide go bloomin’ mad to get in on the action.
Not that I mind, I may not be the stereotypical 50-something who likes to check out chrysanthemums and acacias but I certainly like to keep up-to-date with the world of cocktails. When I was invited along to Tempo - the Italian restairant and cocktail bar in Mayfair - to try their floral creations for Chelsea Flower Show, I couldn’t say no.
So, on Friday night I tootled along to Mayfair to see what all the floral fuss was about. Tempo is like entering a private townhouse, with the lovely owner Henry playing host for the evening. Downstairs is the restaurant, which at 7pm was already busy with guests dining on fine Italian food. We headed straight upstairs to the cocktail bar which was like Henry’s living room or a mini ballroom with ornate wall decorations, a magnificent light making a grand centrepiece for the room, and huge windows looking out over Mayfair.
On huge comfortable sofas sat well-to-do men and women quaffing wine and cocktails and around the edges of the room were high stalls and tables, on which we took a pew. It was good up there to oversee what was going on.
A lone bartender held the fort upstairs, not only making the creations himself but also carrying out friendly table service at the same time. So we got on with working our way through the cocktail list. It’s a tough job but someone’s got to do it and I count drinking cocktails as one of my fortes.
There are five cocktails available, including my favourite: the Wild Rose martini (shown above) made with Lanique rose vodka, fresh raspberries, elderflower cordial, Velvet Falernum, apple juice and honey. Definitely one for the girls. My man friend ordered the more masculine Elderflower Collins (shown below): a mix of Plymouth gin, St Germain liqueur, apple and lemon juice, with a garnish of lime instead of a flower.
The delicate flavours in each of the cocktails is incredible. I was expecting an overwhelming rose flavour reminiscent of my nan’s pot pourri collection but the flavours were subtle and perfectly complimented each other. High five to Martin and Rafal, the mixologists at Tempo who put the floral cocktails together.
I can imagine that the women who have been tending to the flowers at Chelsea Flower Show will love the decadence of Tempo, since most of the cocktails come with a flower garnish. Plus, they’d definitely make a new friend in Henry. He made such a concerted effort to make sure he spoke to all of his guests as if he was welcoming them in to his own home.
But for those of you who, like me, will be enjoying the cocktail hype rather than the flowering type, I suggest you go and see Henry at Tempo in Mayfair between 24-28th May to try them for yourself and make yourself a new friend.
Looking for further cocktail bar inspiration? Check out the Top 10 Best Cocktail Bars in London