Somerset House Sipping
Tucked away in one wing of Somerset House is a rather decent bar, Pennethornes…
Review by Rupert Watkins
Say Somerset House to most people and winter ice skating, various art exhibitions or the renowned Courtauld Gallery will spring to mind. However, for the thirsty amongst you, there is certainly another reason to be popping by the elegant late 18th Century building – Pennethorne’s Bar.
Located on the Waterloo Bridge side of the building in the New Wing, this elegant, airy but jazzy bar is the perfect place to unwind over a couple of drinks. Slightly under the radar in the evenings so pleasantly quiet, Pennethorne’s benefits from its grand Georgian surroundings but the bar has been funkily decorated with a mixture of modern art and antique prints with the darker grey colour scheme adding a slightly moody edge to the room. Banquettes round the edge of the room offer comfortable seating and the marble topped bar offering good views of the bar tenders at work.
The drinks are excellent. Sampling a selection of the bar’s Martinis, there is certainly one to suit the most jaded or sweetest of palettes. Their Rose Bloom was certainly sweet, with rose liquer, pulped strawberry and algave nectar on top of the Bloom gin. Slightly taken aback at first, I grew to like it though it remained fractionally too sweet for my guest. It was the bar’s creation for Valentine’s Day, although according to the courteous bar staff one they will keep on their books for later in the summer as well. Those seeking a sharper Martini should turn to the Rose Bloom; with dashes of yuzu bitters and cucumber infusion this was a slightly tart but refreshing drink that we both loved.
The third drink, Spring Blossom, was a very drinkable midway blend of sweet and tart, the rose and strawberry liquers balancing out and the cucumber moderating the sweetness. Pennethorne’s is also a café/ bistro and our accompanying meat sharing board with smoked duck and Bresaola and bowl of black olive truffle crisps was all exceedingly moreish and the perfect light bite to accompany a few serious drinks. The overall cocktail menu has a revolting selection of about a dozen drinks including non gin numbers such as The Patch – Johnny Walker with pumpkin puree and hazelnut.
Those seeking somewhere slightly offbeat and away from the evening crowds of Covent Garden and Alydwich, Pennethorne’s certainly is an refined option. Take in the Georgian symmetry of the courtyard and then turn right for the bar…
Enquiries: Pennethorne’s, New Wing, Somerset House, The Strand, London WC2R 1LA / 0207 8454651 / http://pennethornes.co.uk/