As far as summers go, this year has given us a good one. Just my luck, then, that on my way to the Icon Balcony Bar and Terrace, it is absolutely chucking it down. Still, as the rain fades we find ourselves a spot on the roof terrace overlooking Leicester Square.
The bar is an oasis of calm, so if you are ever stuck on the Square being crushed by tourists: come on up. As a warm welcome, there’s a Happy Hour from five until eight p.m., Monday through Friday, which generously includes a selection of beers from £2.50 and a roster of cocktails from just £5.
We’re here to try out the newly launched skinny cocktail menu. The five waistline-friendly cocktails are Mimosa Lite, Pimms Cup, Pina Colada Cooler, Skinny Mojito and the Moscow Mule.
Looking at the menu I briefly wonder whether the numbers behind the drinks are the calories. Given that one reaches the heights of 850, this seems excessive, at almost half of my daily calorie allowance – but thankfully, these are points for a rewards scheme. How many calories the drinks have, the kind bartender cannot tell me – just that they are less than other cocktails…
I opt for a Mimosa Lite, my companion for a Skinny Mojito. Contradicting the diet-friendly drink, I ask if they serve snacks but the bar doesn’t. They have a food menu with nibbles or they can provide me with some crisps from the café downstairs. I pass on the latter but I would love to see the menu.
Having personalised the Mojito with honey instead of sugar, my friend declares Skinny Mojito a great success. My mimosa is served tall with ice: it feels a bit like drinking poshed-up orange juice. A flute would have been nicer and would have cut the sugar from the juice without having to dilute it.
I ask the waiter how the Pina Colada Cooler can be ‘skinny’ with its double measure of dark rum (none of the other drinks specify double measures) and lack coconut cream. The poor man sighs and confesses that he has not been briefed on these drinks and has no clue. I order a Pimms Cup (it is summer after all, despite the weather) while my friend sticks to her winning drink. The Pimms Cup is served in an even taller glass crowned with a full slice of lemon between two slices of cucumber. A mini salad – which, given the continued absence of the food menu, is definitely a good thing.
Nonetheless the Pimms Cup is a lovely drink, made with ginger ale soda and elderflower cordial, reminiscent of – well, Pimms. Leaving my friend on the balcony, I take a look inside: the space is decorated with velvet, glass vases and fake chandeliers, big enough to hold 80 people. On our way out, we conclude it is a nice central location for a few drinks with a view. Maybe next time, we might even get hold of the food menu.
The Icon Balcony Bar
The Casino at The Empire
5-6 Leicester Square
Tel: 020 3642 6334