Retro afternoon tea, retro cocktails, retro dining, retro music…
By Les Dunn
In my recent travels around London I think I may have identified a mini-trend on the restaurant scene for all things retro.
At Coin Laundry in Exmouth Market EC1, they make cocktails using that 1970s kitchen must-have, the Sodastream. You can also get a tequila sunrise, an old-school drink that managed to inspire a song and a movie. Keeping with the tropical theme, you can get a piña colada too.
There’s no holding back in this place – they even do a snowball (advocaat and lemonade), a drink that, back in the good ole days, made many a teenager ill at festive parties. They’re all well made and you don’t need to feel embarrassed drinking one – Del Boy would be disappointed but there are no umbrellas.
The essential retro snack to have alongside is the mini chicken kievs, which explode in your mouth with buttery garlickyness.
In Dandelyan, the bar at Mondrian London hotel on the South Bank (which was formerly the delicious. offices), the cocktails are positively futuristic, with a sazerac that’s been poured through concrete, among other wonders.
For their highly unusual afternoon tea, however, they add retro-style 1970s treats such as battenburg cake, baked Alaska and blancmange. The Wyld Tea isn’t as simple as all that, though. The battenburg is blackcurrant and lemon verbena, the baked alaska is ‘pine scented’ and the blancmange is flavoured with rose and comes with caraway shortbread.
Intriguing, like just about everything in the excellent Dandelyan (which was recently placed at number three in the World’s 50 Best Bars). It’ll certainly make your granny raise an eyebrow if you take her there.
Could the mini trend grow? The sons of legendary barman Salvatore Calabrese are to take a step further back in time with a 1960s themed restaurant, set to open in November. At The Holy Birds in Liverpool Street, the music will be resolutely 1960s and the cocktails will include the singapore sling, golden cadillac (apparently it was big in the Sixties) and the moscow mule (though I remember that one more from its appalling pre-bottled alcopop days in the Nineties). The food will be rotisserie poultry – again, not something I’d particularly associate with the Sixties but come to think of it, what food does one associate with the Sixties?
Turns out the past is not a foreign country – it’s just an excuse for another cocktail and helping of nosh. Nothing wrong with that…