Saturday, August 11, 2012

Purl, 8th August

I had already been to Purl’s sister bar, The Worthing Street Whistling Shop, albeit rather briefly, so I knew roughly what to expect from Purl. I would say it delivered this successfully. 

Purl is in an area I wouldn’t head to in search of cocktails if I didn’t know this is where it was. It is a bar in the Speakeasy genre, and in keeping with this has a ‘hidden’ entrance. Whereas with Nightjar you really could walk past it without knowing it was there, Purl does have a sign sticking out from the railings to catch your attention. And a doorman to check if you’re name is on the list. They advise you to book ahead and I imagine that on the weekends this would be necessary. We did have reservations, but on a sleepy Olympictime Wednesday night, there would have been plenty of room for us if we’d have been walk-ins.

We descended the stairs and were lead through the disarmingly spacious bar to our seats – two stools with a piano taking the place of a table. Adorable. The venue is decked out as you would expect in an art deco, 20s kinda way. The lighting is dim and there were several large, set-back leather banquettes which would be ideal if a group of you went as they could serve as private booths. If not, then if you’re placed here, you risk sharing your area with other guests.


We enjoyed where we were seated and spent a few moments perusing the menu. They have wine and champagne on offer, but we were only interested in the cocktails. They have also recently started to do some food – a cheese board, a meat board, nothing too extensive, and to do ‘food pairings’ with some of their cocktails.

There are 12 of these in total. Six are Signature cocktails, and six are twists on classics, and these are the ones paired with some type of comestible. We managed to drink through half of the menu, and bearing in mind that two of the offerings are actually sharing cocktails (for two or four) that’s not bad going.

I mentioned in my post on the Whistling Shop that they have a laboratory where they concoct some of the ingredients for their cocktails. Purl is less about homemade chemistry and more about theatre. Several of their cocktails come with an extra bit of flair, such as the Jewish Champagne I ordered which involved setting alight some celery tonic and adding it to the cocktail while flaming. Or, the Cerez Joker which comes with a balloon which is popped and releases a lemony aroma to compliment your drink. 




Above cocktail too sweet? Simply add this pill to bitter it up.
The cocktails at Purl are not cheap by any means, but of course you are not paying for just the cocktail, but the bells and whistles it comes with. We thought the Signature cocktails were slightly better value for money as you got more actual cocktail in your glass than you did with the ‘Classics’. They were about the same price but the amount of liquid you got was equivalent to a double shot in some cases. I think this is because these cocktails came with ‘food’ but when this is only a smattering of chocolate soil, or one small piece of salmon jerky, it does make you feel you’re being gypped a little and makes it harder to make the cocktails last. Which you want to do because they cost so much. On the flipside, they probably have the same amount of alcohol as the taller cocktails, and are thus more potent.

Some kind of 'snow' accompanies this cocktail
I liked Purl. It felt very elegant. The wait staff were friendly and helpful, they were playing some good background music at just the right level. It was perfect for a special occasion. And we happened to be there for a special occasion, so that worked out well.

But I wouldn’t make it a regular haunt – it’s just a little too pricey for that and a little too out of the way of my normal stomping ground. 


Square Meal

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I work as an editor in educational publishing by day, and then spend most of my spare time discovering interesting things to do in London, and taking people there with my own Meetup.