Mayfair meets Madrid
The quirky El Pirata bar is a place you can hang up your coat after a long day at the office or end your evening with a night cap
Review by Jo Gregory
Restaurant bars are sometimes overlooked as a place to have a pre-dinner drink whilst waiting for your table to be ready however, El Pirata hits the spot when it comes to a casual bar affair. My guest and I arrive straight after work. We’re both surprised to find this humble little place on the backstreets of Mayfair. Not at all what you expect from a postcode of this kind.
We sit at the bar and marvel at the rows and rows of gins, whiskeys and most other type of aperitif or digestif you can think of. Perched high on bar stalls we get chatting to the barman who tells us he’s worked at El Pirata for years. He informs us they have a new Spanish gin menu and doesn’t hesitate on talking us through the four on the menu and offers us a tasting session. The first is Larios 12, which apparently is the best-selling gin in Spain, uses 12 botanicals and best served with a slice of orange. We then move on to the Puerto de Indias Dry – Black Edition; it’s made in Seville, you can really taste the oranges for which the city is famous for. My favourite, the Nordes from Galicia is a rare mix of hibiscus & liquorice, it’s a rather intriguing gin but perfect for a warm evening. And last but not least the Puerto de Indias – Strawberry, a premium gin made in one of Seville’s oldest distilleries in Andalucía. It’s deliciously sweet and delightfully pink.
Whilst in our little gin bubble we hadn’t noticed the bar and restaurant is now almost full. A buzz of people both inside and out. Some from work, some for drinks post dinner and others tucking into the delicious and incredibly priced tapas on offer here. It seems a firm favourite amongst locals, I am told Brian May from Queen is a regular. As we order a glass of Rioja each the manager masterfully swoops in to deliver us a plate of jabón, he gives us a wink and says it would be a shame to miss out on parring the wine with it. How right he was.
We talk to the staff as if they were life ling friends, the familiarity, even though it’s our first visit is warm and comfortable. It’s like a version of Cheers, ‘Salud’ if you will. Whether your popping in for a drink or propping up the bar, don’t miss out on London’s best kept secret!