Central & Co.
Photography by diffordsguide.com
Words by Ian Cameron on 14-Aug-2012
22 Great Marlborough Street, London, W1F 7HU, United Kingdom
Tel: +44 (0)207 437 4106
Website: View bar's website
Hours: & Co: Mon -Sun 5pm - midnight
Door: Open door
Style: Cocktail bar
Recommended for: Spirits
Price guide: High-end
Food: Bar nibbles
A new Marmite bar: one you'll either love or hate. & Co is the basement site of north Soho brasserie Central & Co and boasts an unusual style of drinks service. Here, in this low-lit lounge, an island bar sits in front of rows and rows of 70 unlabelled, decanted bottles of spirits, so there's zero chance of your ordering a brand name of any sort.
Called a 'spirit bar', the idea is that drinkers choose a spirit based purely on its flavour profile, with broad descriptions listed on the menu. Of course, you can differentiate according to price (ranging from £9 to £27), but beyond that it's over to your bartender to help you choose something you like. Cocktails are not listed, though are served and are accordingly focused on short, stirred drinks, but even the small amount of liqueurs and vermouths behind the bar have been decanted. And don't think you can cheat the system: the decanters are labelled only by number, and there's no big reveal at the end of service either.
The whole premise is designed to prevent loyal brand followers from automatically, blindly calling for a particular brand and leading the connoisseur to praise a cheaper variant that they'd never normally order. As a concept this goes 180-degrees against the grain of the entire spirits industry and its approach to marketing. As such, it's both something to be applauded, yet somehow contrived in its own gimmick - a definite talking point either way and we'd recommend it as it's surely interesting to play with your own mind.