&Co at Central & Co, London

central spirits barUrban Leisure Group has opened a bar underneath its brasserie Central & Co in London’s West End where all spirits are kept in unlabelled decanters and brand names are off the menu.

Guests choose a classic cocktail such as a Negroni or Manhattan and then a suitable spirit based only on descriptions of the flavour and character in the menu.

The bartender works with the customer to recommend the best way of serving their chosen spirit, whether neat, with ice or in a stirred drink.

The spirits bar, called &Co, is headed by Alessandro Paludet who previously ran 22 Below which formerly occupied the space.

It was designed by Lee Linford who has worked on the interior of Urban Leisure Group’s Graphic bar in Soho’s Golden Square where he was previously bar manager.

“To enhance taste perceptions and avoid preconceptions, the spirits have all been decanted and are described by style, characteristics and flavour,” Alessandro said.

Classic cocktails suggested on the menu include The Last Word, made with lime, Green Chartreuse, maraschino liqueur and a gin that is “silky and smooth”. The Daiquiri is recommended for a “spicy and fruity” rum while the so-called Fancy Tequila Cocktail is made with a “light and earthy” tequila plus crème d’abricot liqueur, fresh lime and bitters.

A “smooth and creamy Scotch” is suggested for a Blood and Sand, mixed with Cherry Heering, sweet vermouth and fresh orange juice. The Sazerac is made with absinthe, sugar, bitters and a sweet and spicy rye.

There are five absinthes on the menu, ranging from “soft and silky” to “herbal and intense”, while the six vodkas stretch from “silky and spicy” to “fresh and citrussy”.

There is a strong representation of whiskies from Scotch to bourbon and rye to world whiskies as well as five tequilas and a mezcal. However, Alessandro said he would be continually refreshing the list.

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