In Praise of Cocktails

In praise of cocktails



No matter how ubiquitous cocktails have become they still conjure images of elegant worldly glamour. Whether it’s Joan Crawford hurling one in the face of her lover in a fit of pique in 1941’s ‘Wages of Sin’ or Sean Connery as James Bond, seductively sipping one with his latest femme fatale in a 1960s-style pit of chic – whatever the event – cocktails will always lend a sheen of sublime sophistication. 

Flamboyant and ostentatious, cocktails are the proud, preening peacocks of the drinks menu with their own rituals and even their own language. Bartenders, challenged by offering anything more discriminating than a choice between ‘red’ or ‘white’ merely pour their drinks. Cocktails are shaken, stirred, served straight up, with a kick, neat, on the rocks or even dirty by skilled mixologists, men and women steeped in their rites and ceremonies. Ingredients are added that occasionally appear to have more to do with the Potions classroom at ‘Hogwarts’ than a beverage of any description – Activated Charcoal, anyone? Kale? Pine Needles?!? – but which ultimately only add to their mystique. They can even be set on fire, try that with a glass of cheap Chardonnay.

And as Noel Coward once said, ‘it’s never too early for a cocktail…’


No matter what the time of day, a cocktail is always a more than welcome addition to the proceedings. Try serving beer at breakfast and unless you’re from Belgium or a porter in a meat market, you’re bound to get very short shrift. Emerge from the kitchen with a tray of Mimosas, however, and hand me a croissant, the day can begin. And then, of course, there’s brunch which, in our opinion is simply a socially acceptable way of drinking before noon and therefore has no reason to exist other than to provide an excuse for another Bloody Mary. Even tea is now often served with the choice – as if such a thing exists – between Darjeeling or a glass of chilled Champagne and, quite honestly if you’re having Champagne you might as tip a little Angostura Bitters and Cognac in there and make an afternoon of it. So before you know it, the sun is sinking behind some yard arm or other and it’s cocktail hour. See? They even have their own time zone.

Balans Soho Society cannot praise the cocktail and the drinking of cocktails highly enough. It’s what we do best. Deployed with imagination, they’re an alluring libation, with the addition of a fruity garnish they can easily pass as a dessert and from our experience, having served them to the lovely folk of London for 30 odd years, they’ve got a lot of good people through a lot of bad times and done a lot of people intent on doing bad, a whole lot of good… Can one ask more of a drink than that? Chin chin.

And don’t forget that we’re still offering our members 2 for 1 cocktails throughout the week, Monday to Friday in our Soho restaurant from 4pm – 6pm.



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