[Please note, the Clarendon Cocktail Cellar is now the downstairs bar at Cambridge Street. Time Out editors, March 2020]
Tucked away in a residential dead zone near Victoria station, this subterranean bar is cute and cosy, but unfortunately lacks pizzazz. The decor attempts to trick people into forgetting they’re still in Pimlico – it’s a mishmash of circa-2010 Shoreditch-by-numbers elements, with the triple whammy of exposed brickwork AND wood panelling, plus metal signs pinned all over the walls. The lack of a solid theme extends to the menu (printed on coasters), where cocktails, all £10 or less, are named after famous paintings – from the Scream (mezcal, lime, cassis) to A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte (gin, Oleo Saccharum, lapsang souchong). While these were both overwhelmingly smokey – though they did go down easy – the Son of a Man was a winner. Combining both three- and ten-year aged apple cider brandy with amaretto, peach juice and cinnamon, it was like a perfectly tart, totally potent fruit pie. Staff were warm, and kept us topped up with popcorn to nibble. And props to the playlist: we were lulled with a drinking soundtrack of gentle Americana from the likes of the Shins. A perfectly pleasant bar, but its location – and lack of self-assurance – won’t draw the kind of crowd it seems to be looking for.