Cartizze Bar, Mayfair
As novelty streets go, Mayfair’s Lancashire Court is a sort of Made in Chelsea version of China Town; it is to upmarket cocktail bars as Jermyn Street is to four-shirts-for-£100 or Old Compton Street to questionable bondage equipment.
Whilst in Chinatown this would be a dodgy alley where the bins overflow and the cockfighting happens, being round the back of Bond Street means Lancashire Court plays host to a selection of uber-smart bars.
Cartizze Bar is half way down. Push your way through the assault course of tables from competing restaurants and bars and you enter its dark cocoon. Two things strike you immediately; the scale – it’s about the size of an Earl’s Court bedsit, and the décor, which with panelling, blacks, golds, purples and marble is as though Gordon Gekko decided to totally pimp out said Council flat. And it looks great. The bar itself, an Art Deco masterpiece of bottles, glasses, potions and flavours beckons with cocktailish promise.
The service was attentive. As, presumably, are their clientele given the two waitresses were identical blonde twin sisters. This perhaps explains why the tables behind ours were made up of regulars – bankers or similar – from a local Finance firm. On our other side, a couple of young women, all cashmere-cardigans and pearls, nattered away while the only other table available in the micro-venue played host to a date which seemed to be going well, no doubt eased along by award winning cocktail designer Richard Woods’ delicious creations.
We started out with the Olive Oil Gin Fizz and Amor Y Amargo cocktails. The Amor Y Amargo, like most of the menu is Italian inspired. It combines Amaretto, Cynar and apricot liqueur with lemon, egg white, vanilla sugar and Prosecco and is a delight. My date did the raisey-eyebrow thing when I suggested it tasted a bit like custard tart, but whatever, it was to die for. Olive oil, conversely, should surely just make you die. No
coronaries later, it turned out not. It takes a lot to beat alcoholic custard tart drink, but the Olive Oil Fizz possibly pipped it to the post. Gin, lemon, lemon sugar and olive oil with egg white and Prosecco (Prosecco features heavily in the menu) mixes into a delicious house favourite.
The dainty aperitifs were also delicious. We sampled the Beef Fillet Carpaccio and the Hand Dived (eh?) Orkney Isles Scallops in Smoked Pancetta Brioche Buns – in effect mini fish burgers. The flavours combined well with the drinks and we finished up with one of the barrel-aged cocktails, a Negroni. Perhaps an adventure too far or maybe our taste buds were already overexcited. In any case, we left ready for dinner and exceptionally cheered, mainly by the cocktails (honestly, they were some of the best I’ve tasted) but possibly the twins helped too.
We arrived straight from work at six and it was basically empty but within half an hour had filled so definitely book. It’s tiny and will be chokka if you’re a walk-in. Aim to arrive around seven, sample the menu to tipsy then head to one of Mayfair’s many restaurants. Or, if she’s dull, you can easily pass it off as the main event and slip off.
For the Connoisseur, and given I just described a Richard Wood cocktail as liquid custard tart you’ve probably guessed that I’m not, Cartizze hold a privately sourced collection of spirits dating back to the 1800s. Wow them with a 1920s martini or ‘60s Vermouth.
Check your balance before you go! We totted our bill up, taking into account a couple of refills, to over £100 for an hour’s pre-gaming. Also, as I discovered when trying to fill the Gin induced amnesia gaps for this piece, there’s no phone number. Reservations and everything is email only.
4 – Post work drinks? Meeting with friends or hot date? Fill your wallet with cash and head down to Cartizze now.