db Drinks: The Bloomsbury Club Bar

This week db ventures to leafy Fitzrovia to a hidden gem of a bar that pays homage to each of the 10 members of the Bloomsbury group.

The Bloomsbury Club Bar - 2

The concept: Tucked away down a quiet side street away from the rabble of Tottenham Court Road, the Bloomsbury Club Bar within the Bloomsbury hotel pays homage to both the Bloomsbury group and the golden age of cocktails.

Forming in the early 20th century, the group of artists, writers and philosophers who lived and worked around leafy Bloomsbury included A Room with a View novelist E. M. Forster, post-impressionist painter Vanessa Bell and ill-fated author Virginia Woolf.

The Queen Mother's favourite: gin and milk

The Queen Mother’s favourite: Gin and Milk

The décor: The bar is a tale of two interiors – inside it’s all plush teal velvet, vintage books and polished wood evoking a gentleman’s club in the ‘20s. Outside, the heated terrace is more feminine in nature, decked out with climbing plants and fairy lights. It’s worth spending time in both, beginning with an apéritif on the terrace then retiring to the main bar for something stronger.

The cocktails: Like the bar, the cocktail list is split into two sections and opens with the Bloomsbury Set, a collection of ten cocktails devised by head bartender Mathieu Gaudin inspired by each of the members of the Bloomsbury group.

The Virginia Woolf is a twist on a Clover Club made with No. 5 Gin, lemon, homemade raspberry shrub, egg white and Cochi Americano. Looks are deceiving and despite its pretty pink exterior this cocktail packs a serious punch.

The Leonard Woolf meanwhile, inspired by Virginia’s political theorist husband, twists on an Old Fashioned with the welcome addition of ginger syrup and orange bitters. It pairs particularly well with passionate political discussions.

The Time Honoured section of the menu features forgotten classics like the Blood and Sand, Brandy Crusta, Boulevardier and seriously smoky Toreador, made with mezcal, Don Julio Blanco, apricot brandy and lime.

Signature sip: The curiously delightful Gin and Milk, made with Hayman’s Old Tom gin, milk and nutmeg, said to be the Queen Mother’s favourite drink. While it sounds rich and wintry, the gin and milk marry well and make for a surprisingly refreshing sip.

The food: Nibbles are by no means an afterthought at The Bloomsbury Club, with everything from club sandwiches stuffed with Serrano ham and truffle fries on offer. On our visit we indulged in flappingly fresh tuna tartare on moreish Guinness bread with avocado, lime and wasabi; piping hot courgette fries with saffron mayo; creamy burrata with sourdough; and decadent lamb goujons with a tangy tamarind sauce.

Who to know: On arrival ask for Brian Calleja, the affable Maltese bar manager who will look after you like royalty.

Don’t leave without: Asking Brian about the inspiration behind the Bloomsbury Set cocktails – he’s a fount of knowledge about the Bloomsbury group and is keen to share stories of their antics.

The Bloomsbury Club Bar, 16-22 Great Russell Street, Bloomsbury WC1B 3NN

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