The Icon Balcony Bar in Leicester Square should note the old idiom: “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it.” To celebrate their sixth anniversary, the bar has relaunched with a brand new cocktail menu: The Iconic Dessert Cocktails – and they are revolting.
Situated directly above the Empire Cinema and boasting a large terrace (where you can spy on the stars), the Icon Balcony Bar isn’t members only, and though it looks small it fits 80 comfortably. Its interior has a Knightsbridge-esque vibe, or rather a Russian vibe. Huge chandeliers sparkle over red velvet sofas giving the room an Oligarch “this cost a lot but still looks cheap” look.
Half a dozen or so exceptionally attractive waitresses worked the room quickly and efficiently, delivering drinks to your table far faster than if you queued at the bar. First to arrive was theSalted Caramel (Fresh pineapple chunks shaken with Makers Mark Bourbon and homemade caramel, served in an ice-chilled coupette and garnished with a salted caramel rim). This wasn’t gently salted; there was enough white stuff on the rim of the glass to salt cook a sea bass. The caramel and bourbon did work well together, but the strong flavours of the duo masked any taste of pineapple.
Next came the Lemon Meringue Pie (Vodka shaken with lime and lemon curd served with a soft home-made meringue and biscuit rim). This was better; the curd was thick and tangy and worked well with the biscuit rim. The meringue hadn’t been cooked, but whipped egg white and sugar still tasted nice. In fact, lime and lemon curd, uncooked meringue and biscuit make rather a pleasant dessert – there was no need for the vodka clinging to the sides of the curd like an acidic glaze (except to make it a cocktail). Indeed, a shot of vodka would have been better, followed by the rest enjoyed simply as a dessert.
Also on the menu were Cherry Bakewell (Cherry Heering and girottines syrup shaken with bourbon and garnished with icing sugar), Blueberry Cheesecake (Vanilla Vodka and liquer, sugar, cream cheese and double cream with a crumble rim), Tiramisu (Vodka, Crème de Cacao, coffee, double cream, marscapone and sugar, dusted with sugar) and Apple Pie and Custard (Fresh apples shaken with vodka and pomme verte, layered with vanilla infused cream).
However, after watching a particularly curdled Blueberry Cheesecake being ferried past, the old menu and a Jamaican Mule (Spiced rum infused with fresh ginger and vanilla, charged with ginger beer) called. This was fantastic. A Rose Petal Martini (Rose petal vodka stirred with gin and lychee, garnished with an edible flower) was also beautifully made: dainty, light and refreshing.
Overall, though the atmosphere was good and the service highly impressive, the new cocktails let the launch down. Inventive yes, but not catered to a wide-ranging palate. I would suggest going to The Icon Balcony Bar, but stick to the old menu.
Photos: Luna Ingrassia