Never let anyone tell you that alcohol doesn’t have restorative properties. There is a reason why whisky literally means ‘water of life’. Far too much press is dedicated to warning us about the dangers of overdrinking, as if the moment a drop of wine touches your tongue, you’re only seconds away from liver failure. Whenever you hear stories of how someone has lived to over a hundred years old, the consistent factor in a lot of them is that they enjoy a daily glass of wine or a couple of pints.
Of course, overindulging on a consistent basis will be the death of you and the effects of a big night out can often last for days. But then as Frank Sinatra said, ‘I feel sorry for people who don’t drink. They wake up in the morning and that’s the best they’re going to feel all day.’
I was reflecting on these words as I left the bar at Michel Roux Jnr’s new establishment Roux at the Pembury. I had arrived feeling groggy with the accumulated aches from the week aggregating into a slovenly lethargy. I was cranky and irritable, and a little unsure if the addition of alcohol was about to make the whole situation a lot worse.
The bar at the Pembury is a very refined venue, as one might expect from an establishment which is only a John Prescott lunge away from the Houses of Parliament. The walls are lined with books and the spacious sofas are mingled in with globes doubling as drinks cabinets.
I looked down the menu to the see the cocktails divided up into the three courses normally associated with dining; hors d’œuvres, plats principaux and désert. Perhaps this is an elaborate way of establishing the legitimacy of a liquid lunch.
Given my proximity to the country’s lawmakers, I started with a White Paper, which featured Tanqueray gin, orange juice, ginger & lemon tea. It’s pleasing to see tea increasingly used as an ingredient in cocktails as it adds a variety of flavours and this was very much the case with the White Paper with its smooth blend of ingredients, which kept everything light.
I then went for a William’s Tipple, a curious mixture of Lillet Blanc, Tanqueray No.10 Gin, Kammerling’s Ginseng Liqueur, and Peach Bitters. This was a much more complex concoction with the ginseng liqueur providing a hint of spice.
By now, I was feeling much more spritely with all my previous aches dissipating and a feeling of ease spreading over me. The atmosphere at the Roux was also a good aid to relaxation with its laid back feel. In addition, the prices for the cocktails are fittingly restrained given that the bar used to be an old Treasury building.
Roux at the Pembury
12 Great George Street,
Tel: 020 7334 3737