To celebrate the traditional Russian winter Smirnoff has brought out a product to rival ‘Stoli’. Black vodka is smooth, pungent, and distilled four times, the last distillation in a copper alambic, resulting in an almost alchemical elixir. So I bravely ‘tested’ seven different Black vodka cocktails at the Smirnoff Black Winter Ice Lounge in Canary Wharf, hand-mixed by a frozen bartender in mittens.
The Smirnoff Black Winter Ice Lounge is located on an outside terrace on the forth floor of Plateau, with a view of the bastions of capitalism. To hell with the credit crunch! The lounge is atmospherically decorated with Fabergé eggs, frosted windows, icicles, candlelight and sofa’s draped with fur.
The cocktails range from long, tall and fruity to small berry-bright shots, the most unusual of which is the Choccochilli, which contains Smirnoff black, chocolate and fresh chilli. Burning its way to the base of the stomach with a fiery glow, this would be good with dessert.
The Smirnoff 74 served in a champagne glass is a refreshing aperitif, consisting of vodka, lemon, gomme and champagne. It is the sort of drink that needs a spring picnic by a river and the opportunity to drink it forever. But my favourite has to be the bartender’s own creation: the strawberry and basil Mule. It contains vodka on a bed of torn basil leaves, and it steam-cleans the senses with strawberry, basil, lime, and ginger beer.
I ask the bartender, Tristan Stephenson, if they do girly favourites like White Russians, but he says it would be a shame to spoil the taste of the higher quality Black Smirnoff vodka with cream.
After approximately three cocktails I find myself under one of the fur drapes with the Time Out correspondent’s boyfriend. He works in ‘fitness’, he tells me. ‘You mean, you are totally fit?’, I slur. Within about five minutes we’re cooing saucy terms like ‘tromboning’ and ‘figging’ at each other.
Looking opposite I notice about five journalists snuggled together on a sofa, declaring profound love for each other, like a bunch of exiting celebrities from Big Brother. Yes, Smirnoff Black has quite an effect.
Smirnoff Black Winter Ice Lounge at Plateau until February 7
4th Floor Canada Place
Canary Wharf E14 5ER