Monday, 28 February 2011

La Maison Fontaine at The Chelsea Brasserie

There's nothing I love more than talking about Absinthe, so the 3rd March got off to a great start! I arrived at Chelsea Brasserie in Sloane Square at 9am to train the staff on the wonderful ways of Absinthe and the delights of La Maison Fontaine.

The team were delightful and very enthusiastic. Tasting Absinthe at that time in the morning is not to everyone's taste, apart from the true adventurer of course. We even made up The Fontaine of Youth to demonstate the versatility of having a fountain in place and the perfect serve.

So, next time you're Sloaning around The Square do pop in to say hi and try some La Maison Fontaine.

The Bar Team at Chelsea Brasserie:

Cesar Vandamme
Beka Khmaladze
Peter Pusztai

Great Cocktails at The Bathhouse on a Friday with La Maison Fontaine Absinthe and SW4 Gin

This is not the first time I've featured The Bathhouse on these pages and I have to say I'm very pleased to be featuring them again. The reason this time is we are working alongside them on Fridays to provide a great cocktail containing firm favourite La Maison Fontaine Absinthe and other guest spirits for a bit of variety. This month we are working with SW4 London Dry Gin which is quite fitting for the Bathhouse because:

"SW4 London Distilled Gin, is a big and complex gin made in the style of the original London Dry Gins of the mid to late 19th Century. It has 12 botanicals in its recipe, with Juniper being heavily predominant, but then behind it come the citrus and spice notes, from botanicals such as lemon peel and cassia, which give it the fullness and complexity. The whole is then brought together by the Orris Powder."

"Distilled gins of this style pre-date the Cocktail era of the early 20th Century, which tended to give rise to the somewhat austere and less complex gins of that time. The older style gins being made to show at their best when mixed with water, ginger beer and most especially tonic, that eponymous drink of the British Empire. SW4 has taken this heritage and using up to date small batch distillation techniques brings you the 21st century version of the classic original gin style."

"Nestled in the shadows of the City, The Bathhouse sits within Bishopsgate Churchyard, a surviving treasure from Victorian East London. Hearkening back to the near-forgotten days of iniquity and indulgence, this late night establishment provides live music, performance and entertainment. Stepping into the 19th century Kiosk with it’s deceptively small exterior is like entering another era all together, descend the staircase, move beneath the streets of the City and a cavernous space opens before you. The historically listed building has been subtly enhanced, retaining the strong undercurrents of the Victorian era that revelled in anatomy, erotica and botanicals."

"In stark architectural contrast to its neighbouring buildings, The Bathhouse is an undiscovered beauty that is more than just a bar, a restaurant or an entertainment space, tighten your corset for a decadent step back in time."

"The interior design was lavish in its style, no expense was spared on plush velvet carpets, marbled mosaic floors, walls adorned with hand crafted tiles and decorative faience columns. Turkish Baths were an important part of a modern City Gent’s life in Victorian London; they not only provided services to relax and unwind but also served as a medical aide. The Bathhouse created “an arena in which health, pleasure, culture and curiosity could collide; a mystical world far from the restrictive, Victorian society in which it could be found”.

"With the arrival of the fifties, popularity for this kind of leisure and the need for Iodine Liquid Baths and Mercurial Vapour Baths were no longer so great. After a tough 1952 Budget it was deemed foolish to renew the lease on the establishment and by 1954 the Bathhouse stood empty."

"Gathering dust, the building was used a storage space for nearly twenty years after its closure, keeping all of its original features in tact. In the 1970s the doors were swung open once more, the Bathhouse enjoying a new lease of life as a restaurant. It has played host to hundreds of diners daily until February 2009."

"It is now however that the venue is being restored to its former glory. Opulence, decadence and sumptuous furnishings are the order of the day. The Bathhouse is once more the indulgent City hide away that it once was – we are however giving the Needle Baths a wide berth."

On Fridays the venue gets taken over by the wonderful Boom Boom Club:

This months Cocktail is a variation on The London Cocktail from The Savoy Cocktail Book, Harry Craddock, 1930

The City of London Cocktail

2 Dashes La Maison Fontaine Absinthe
1/3 SW4 London Dry Gin
Grapefruit Juice
2 Dashes Gomme Syrup
2 Dashes Orange Bitters

Shake well over ice, strain into an ice filled high ball and top with grapefruit juce, garnish with grapefruit zest.

I hope to see you there.......