Review: Zetter Townhouse
As I walk under the arching lantern and push open the solid front door my heart flutters nervously in anticipation of what I am about to discover, for I am arriving at a soft-opening night with the London Cocktail Society at the Zetter Townhouse cocktail bar. My nervousness is not in fear, rather in excited anticipation of quite how extraordinary this bar might be. With the masterminds of Tony Conigliaro and Camille Hobby-Limon of 69 Colebrooke Row fame at the helm, anything is possible.
I am greeted by Camille who is smiling like a Cheshire cat; it takes but a glance around the magnificent space for me to mirror her expression. This is one beautiful bar, but not in a ‘trying to be a beautiful bar’ kind of way. Instead it is akin to walking into the living room of your eccentric, but well to-do Aunt. Curiosities adorn every square inch, there is a boxing kangaroo, an umbrella-weilding cat, gramophones and paintings, lots of paintings! Now I appreciate that might sound a little weird but not so, this is an intelligently designed space that not only works well, but is intriguing at every turn. I was not the only one to think so, for the next few hours a steady stream of members came through that door, and every single one took a seat with a smile on their face. Downstairs is a games room with table tennis and a full multimedia set-up that means revellers can play on the Wii, watch a movie or simply put some tunes on and have a good time. This balance of Georgian eccentricity and modern recreational entertainment is genius, it is impossible not to have fun here,
Of course the real focus for the evening was the drinks. This being the first night they had served their full menu to paying customers, it was understandable that the staff looked more than a little nervous. They needn’t have worried however, for when you have Tony Conigliaro overseeing proceedings, you can be sure of the best. Although the drinks pick up on some themes from Colebrooke Row, the unrelenting quest for perfection being a significant one, they also have a distinct ‘personality’ of their own. All were sophisticated and beautifully balanced with some charming complexity that made ordering that one too many all too easy. They were however also fun, each one having been conceived with a story in mind and reflecting the travels of the fictional Aunt Whilhelmina created as the character whose living room you sit in as you drink.
I should mention that the Zetter Townhouse also has rooms, perfect for ensuring you can maximise every last second of your night here. In keeping with downstairs, they mix Georgian sophistication with all the modern trappings you expect. Most exciting though is the minibar. Inside the fridge you will find miniature bottles of ready-to-serve cocktails. There is a Negroni, an El Presidente, a Manhattan, and a gin martini to try. A quick call to reception results in delivery of everything you need to make your own cocktail. A mixing glass, spoon and ice with which to stir your chosen beverage, and a selection of garnishes with which to serve. The results, delicious! It is these sorts of touches that put the Zetter Townhouse into a league of its own. Of course a bar can only really be judged by how it stands up to the tests of time, but if my visit was anything to go by, the standard has just been raised.
A big thank-you to Tony and Camille for letting the LCS come test out their new bar and to all the staff who worked so hard to make sure our visit was so enjoyable.