December gives us all a perfect excuses to go our for dinner or drinks of both-catching up with friends or colleagues and wishing each other a wonderful Festive season. I like to plan ahead, so when a lovely invitation from the team of 108 Marylebone Lane arrived to come and experience their newly launched After Dark Cocktails, I invited a friend and we were both rearing to go. Low and behold, on the day of our rendez-vous my friend texted me to say she was unwell. I toyed with the idea of cancelling, I tried roping in other girlfriends in but as planning goes, everyone was taken and then I thought, hang on a minute, I am a modern woman, I deserve a night out but instead of dancing on the tables I will just enjoy the moment. I got dressed, smiled at my reflection in the mirror and dashed out into the cold, windy street.
108 Marylebone Lane has been my stomping ground since their collaboration with The Juicery but After Dark Cocktails were created for people who want to drop by in the evening and just chill. As I entered I noticed couples cooing over a bottle of wine, girlfriends catching up over cocktails and nibbles and men, either sitting in twos or in big crowds, discussing work & life. With slightly dimmed lighting, DJ at the desks to the right of the bar ( he plays live sets on Thursday & Friday nights ) and lovely mixologists at the bar ( I counted three of them ) who speak to customers sitting on the bar stools or pass drinks to the waiters with the charming smile, the mood was of serene buzz.
The cocktail menu lists champagne & sparkling wines, Martini cocktails, Signature Cocktails, Vintage collection, Cocktails with bubbles, Tiki, Mocktails and al, so whatever drink you fancy, you will be spoilt and indulged. You can sit by the windows, on comfy chairs nestled around the tables, or take place of pride in the middle, crowding around larger tables or cosy up on a plush sofa.
My first cocktail of choice, called Niddle In A Stack ( Hendriks Gin, Midori, Lemon Juice, Silver niddle tea and fresh mint – one of martini cocktails ), was light and refreshing-a perfect drink to start the evening with. It arrived accompanied by little ceramic pots with green olives, popcorn and crisps.
With the latest edition of Bazaar UK magazine to keep me company and attentive but unobtrusive staff, I had a really laid back evening, looking around, listening to chilled music or looking out to what was going outside-with Xmas garlands blinking and cars and people whizzing by the atmosphere seemed magical. All that was missing was the snow falling outside.
I then tried another cocktail, a signature one, called Caipi What? ( with cachaca rum, martini bianco, lime juice, fresh roasted pineapple juice, ice and rosemary twig ). As you sip slowly its cool soothness, you appreciate the atmosphere around you, which offers appreciation of the moment, when you can be loud or chilled and let things develop as they should. You can order some lovely nibbles ( olives, grissini sticks, charcuterie, hummus, vegetable crudite ) or more substantial dishes like Kale Caeser salad, crispy calamari, fish & chips, roast Suffolk lamb, pan seared sea bass, a hamburger or sandwiches-really, whatever tickles you fancy.
And when you are ready to venture outside it will be with the sense of an evening well spent and a desire to come back and enjoy the ambiance that envelopes you like a friendly hug and allows you to enjoy the festive mood at the end of a busy work day or a date night.