Ascending to the 24th floor of Tower 42 in London’s financial district, you can’t really get a sense of how high you are. Most City bars now have external lifts which strike fear into your heart as you ascend to your bar of choice. However, City Social Bar provides the ultimate tease, disorientating you, until you enter their circular bar through big double doors – until bang, that view. Take a seat at the floor to ceiling window if you have a head for heights, or sit back and relax in one of their booths, to take in the sights from a safer distance.
Gazing over the twinkling lights of London, it took a few tries for the very attentive waiters to take our drink orders, we were so distracted. Bar Manager, Tim Laferla and his team of expert mixologists did not seem the least bit surprised, instead guiding us through their inventive cocktail menu with real knowledge and a passion for what they do best.
To start, we wanted to try City Social Bar’s take on the classic Margarita (our favourite cocktail), and boy are we glad we did! The Shison Fire features Olmeca Altos blanco tequila, Apple & Wasabi puree, and is garnished with Shiso and Black Lava Salt for a very dramatic finish. This classic combo is definitely a winner; it satisfies all the requirements for a terrific Margarita with the added kick of wasabi, which punches the taste into sensory overdrive.
For more of a ‘Breakfast At Tiffany’s’ experience, we recommend A Damson In Distress, a pretty in pink miniature chalice of Absolut Elyx Vodka, Damson, Rosemary, Aperol and Prosecco (of course!), garnished with ‘Hate Mail’. Our Hate Mail came in the form of a tiny post-it note with the words ‘I’ve read your internet history – it’s gross!’ scrawled upon it, affixed with the world’s tiniest wooden peg. A naughty but nice party drink, and we absolutely loved it!
Immensely impressed by the mastery of the bar staff (we could have watched them all evening, if not for the jaw dropping London skyline), and wanting to take advantage of our waiter’s impressive cocktail knowledge, we decided to ask for a recommendation. Without skipping a beat, ‘Definitely the Sharp And Grappa’ was our answer. This watermelon and lemon concoction features Grappa as its only alcoholic contribution – not our usual poison, making it all the more intriguing.
The drink arrived with a dickie bow tied around the glass on a thin wire, a charming tongue in cheek nod to the city slickers that normally frequent high rise tower bars. Grappa and watermelon make surprisingly delicious bed companions, and this unusual signature drink should be the first order for any visiting Hero & Leander couple.
The evening was finished off with a couple of small plates from City Social Bar’s bar menu (they also serve a full evening menu in their private dining area). The pork empanadas were flavoursome and lightly golden, however the goats cheese churros served with honey were perhaps a bit heavily fried for the delicate, cocktails we were quaffing alongside but nevertheless delicious.
Satisfied and feeling like royalty surveying their Kingdom, we walked courageously to the sheer, glass windows for one last gaze into the twinkling evening lights before vowing to be back again with anyone we wanted to impress with London’s beauty and an evening to remember. Quality is King here, and if you can remember that good things come in small, well-crafted packages, you can’t help but put City Social Bar on the return-list.