By Leah Harper.
Recently I invested in a personal trainer (I know, I know...), to whom I was required to reveal every detail of my dietary habits and somewhat lax exercise routine. However, it turns out that I actually eat relatively healthily (excluding the odd frappacino fix and late night craving for chips), and I’m stubborn enough to stick to even the most tiresome of workout plans. There was, however, one area in which I was failing miserably: booze.
‘But I’m a Londoner!’ I reasoned with him, ‘everything is done over drinks. Birthday drinks, leaving drinks, dinner and drinks; what’s a girl to do?’
His concern lay not in the fact that my stumbling towards the tube in time for the last train might leave me with an injury that would justify skipping gym sessions for a week or two, but rather in the horrific number of calories that are apparently lurking in just about every alcoholic beverage. Cocktails happen to be one of the worst offenders, but really, unless you’re happy sipping a vodka and tonic, you don’t even want to be thinking about how much sugar goes into your favourite tipple.
Fortunately, Covent Garden’s Dirty Martini bar claims to have come up with a solution. Their appropriately named ‘Skinny Minnie’ cocktails work on much the same principle as the skinny latte and the skinny muffin: guilt-free indulgence. They have just half the calories (and alcohol units) of their full-fat counterparts, and you can still swan around this swanky establishment with a martini glass in your hand; in theory.
In actual fact, Dirty Martini’s bar is so crammed full of skinny minnie people that it’s impossible to actually ‘swan’ anywhere. No matter – if you want to talk to anyone over the sound system you’ll need to be pressed up against their ear anyway, and really it’s much better if you just stand still and pout. Over in the seated section there’s one girl who’s got this down to a tee. She stands silently swirling the cocktail cherry around her glass the whole time we’re enjoying the bar.
That’s not to say this bar is pretentious; it’s not. The majority of the clientele have obviously touched up their make-up in the office loos, and there’s no chance of you running into to any of the cast of Made In Chelsea. Rather than a sense of West End snobbery, Dirty Martini have mastered the New York vibe which they set out to achieve. The only question is whether or not you’ll be able to summon your inner Carrie Bradshaw and brave this packed out bar after a day at work.
The Skinny Minnie cocktails themselves are made with the expertise and precision which goes into all the drinks at Dirty Martini. Currently there are two options available: the Passionfruit Mojito and the Watermelon Martini, although the bartender tells me they’re hoping to increase the selection soon.
You can’t fault the composition of these drinks, but like most decisions made on the premise of ‘being good’, ordering a Skinny Minnie might leave you feeling a little disappointed. They’re a little like squash with not enough concentrate. I feel like I’ve asked for my frappacino without the cream, or my late night chips without the cheese.
In the end it’s almost impossible to watch Dirty Martini’s infamous Chocolate Martini being poured right in front of us while we sip our watery alternative, and I know it’s only a matter of time before I give up and order something suitably sugary, and with a little more of a kick....
Looking for further London cocktail bar inspiration? Check out the Top 10 guide to the Best Cocktail Bars in London