“One more drink and I'm under the host”. Dorothy Parker.
To celebrate the traditional Russian New Year. Smirnoff brings out a product to rival ‘Stolly’: 'black' vodka is smooth, pungent, and distilled 4 times, the last distillation in a copper alambic, resulting in an almost alchemical elixir.
Your correspondent bravely 'tested' 7 different vodka cocktails, hand-mixed by a frozen bartender, Tristan Stephenson, in mittens. The Smirnoff Black Winter Ice Lounge is actually located on a outside terrace on the 4th floor, with a view of the bastions of capitalism. To hell with the credit crunch! The lounge was atmospherically decorated with Fabergé eggs, frosted windows, icicles, candlelight and sofa's draped with fur.
The cocktails ranged from long, tall and fruity to small berry-bright shots. The most unusual cocktail was the 'Choccochilli', containing Smirnoff black, chocolate and fresh chilli. Burning its way to the base of the stomach with a fiery glow, this would be good with dessert.
The Smirnoff 74 served in a champagne glass would be a refreshing aperitif, consisting of vodka, lemon, gomme and champagne. It was the sort of drink that needed a spring picnic by a river and the opportunity to drink it forever.
My favourite had to be the bartender's own creation, the 'Strawberry and basil mule': vodka on bed of torn basil leaves, it steam-cleaned the senses (Smirnoff black, strawberry, basil, lime, and ginger beer.)
I did ask the bartender if they did girly favourites like ‘White Russian’ but he said it would be a shame to spoil the taste of the higher quality Black Smirnoff vodka with cream.
After approximately 3 of the cocktails, I found myself under one of the fur drapes with the Time Out correspondent's boyfriend. He worked in "fitness", he told me. "You mean, you are totally fit!" I slurred. Within about 5 minutes we were cooing at each other saucy terms such as 'tromboning' and 'figging'. No, I'm not telling you what they mean, look it up.
The Time Out girl didn't look too bothered, she was as sloshed as we were. Looking opposite I noticed about 5 journalists snuggled together on a sofa, declaring profound love for each other, like a bunch of exiting celebrities from Big Brother.
Smirnoff Black, it has that effect!
Address: Smirnoff Black Winter Ice Lounge at Plateau, 4th Floor Canada Place, Canada Square, Canary Wharf, E14 5ER. Nearest tube: Canary Wharf.