Fancy a cheeky Martini...or three?
I've come a long way in cocktails. From thinking a Dirty Martini was a tiny bloke named Martin with poor personal hygiene, to drinking at the all exclusive Dirty Martini in Hanover square, I gave myself a pat on the back, just for managing to find the place...eventually. Hidden away in the corners of all corners (not helped by the construction work that going on at the time -not their fault at all), it took a teeny sign with a martini glass on the front to finally be my guiding light. If like me, you don't have the greatest sense of direction, I would suggest allowing yourself an extra ten minutes or so if you're going there for the first time - plus, if you get there early, you've won yourself an extra ten minutes for drinking. It's a win-win situation, really.
Dirty Martini is a dimly-lit basement bar. If the idea of that makes you feel a tad claustrophobic, then I'm here to tell you not to panic. With a wide table area on one side of the venue, and a line of booths by the bar (fitting around 10 people if you pull up a few chairs), there is plenty of open space, through which you get led by the helpful staff if you're stuck finding your party (it is pretty dark). The high walls around the booths means you can book it for your stag-do, birthday, or just a girls' night out and still feel as if it's your own private space. Dirty Martini is a great place to hold an event, as you can pre-order for food and cocktails on arrival, meaning you don't spend your first moments waiting around. Their events team works to accommodate you, even allowing you to pre-pay in advance so you can enjoy your evening without the stress of worrying about the bill.
The plush décor and mirrored walls marries vintage decadence with modern elegance, resulting in comfort, without the claustrophobia. Their bathrooms are clean, bright and elegantly decorated - being bit of a hygiene enthusiast, the state of a venue's toilets is an important feature to me. They present a fusion of bar food, from crispy Gyoza dumplings, to paprika chicken skewers, to their own twist of the American beef sliders. Not a dry-roasted peanut in sight...There's something for everyone and, if you're still stuck on what to have, their sharing boards are delicious, freshly prepared and filling. I would highly recommend their Mediterranean sharing board to give a fiery kick to an all-round decent night out. Be warned, though. Save up. It is a bit on the pricey side, but with an endless selection of some of the best Martinis London has to offer, you get the experience you pay for. Alternatively, you could get there in time for for Happy Hour and take advantage of their fabulous deals, making Dirty Martini the ideal pre-drinking spot before heading for a night out.
Martini of the hour: their Chocolate Martini - choccy milk for us grown-ups, only.
Sexy bar for an early evening cocktail date before moving on elsewhere. This way you get:
a) happy hour prices from 4pm - so 2 martinis for the usual £8.50,
b) a nice vibe - dim lighting and deep house music,
c) a seat! All the tables get reserved for later in the evening so we parked ourselves in a sexy leather booth reserved for 'Bhavik' later that night (thanks Bhavik).
It also means you avoid:
a) waiting half an hour in the crush to get to the bar - once it hits 6pm on a Friday it was 4 people deep,
b) ingredients shortage - who knew the hibiscus martini would be so popular,
c) getting squished! The place is long and narrow, and obviously the loos are at the far end from the bar, so soon becomes a gauntlet through the crowd, protectively carrying the martinis your abandoned friend's been waiting half an hour for.
The drinks themselves were fine - where they let themselves down for me was the disinterested bar staff. I know I was biased by having to wait a while and I'm well aware you can't rush good cocktail-making genius, but they moved pretty slowly - my server even had time to stop for a chat to another about the lack of clean martini glasses then spent a painful 2 minutes trying to put a lychee on a cocktail stick for decoration (I would have taken it without if I'd already paid).
So if you actually plan to have a cocktail at this cocktail bar, I'd advise you book a table or stick to an early visit and make use of the waitresses - your blood pressure and whoever you take will both thank me :)
Dirty Martini is a little difficult to find, just off regent street with a small sign.
There is an upstairs seating area and another downstairs which is the one I sat in with a friend. Luckily, their seemingly never-ending happy hour was on and we managed to get two martinis for the price of one. Not being a vodka or gin drinker, I struggled to choose a drink from the menu, and the unhelpful bartender really killed my chilled-out mood.
The seating area has dimmed lighting with cool lamps and nooks with small booths to sit in. We chose to sit in the artistic booth at the furthest end, but felt it as we seemed to be forgotten by the bartender who was supposedly bringing over a straw for my friend (because they didn't have any behind the bar). We initially asked for Tequila Sunrise but they didn't do them (!) so we checked out the happy hour menu. My drink had amaretto and hibiscus syrup in it which went down nicely, but my friend's drink was very bitter and she had to down it to get rid of it!
Overall, a nice place with cool design interior but try to come during the evening where the staff actually know what they're doing.
I really like Dirty Martini - with one caveat - if you've booked a table/booth. Otherwise it's standing up only, and because it's long and thin as a bar, it can get annoyingly crowded and awkward with people going to a from the bar/loos.
Other than that - good drinks, good music, great happy hour (till 8pm), and the staff are nice too. The food platters are tasty if a little pricey, but we are in the West End in cocktail hour I suppose.
The crowd seem to be a nice after work bunch. It's a good place to catch up with friends and accidentally drink too many cocktails.
The hibiscus champagne cocktail is particularly lovely.
Queue can get a bit mad - again, book if you can.
Firstly, this Dirty Martini does not smell like the one in Covent Garden (and thank God to that)! It is much more spacious with better crowds too.
We came here on several occasions, for a friends birthday and casual drinks after work. I loved the happy hour for half price martinis! I especially LOVE the chocolate martini. It is delicious! My friend had also asked the bartender to make a special drink, off menu, and they did it for her.
I haven't been here at the weekend so I'm not sure what the crowd is like. But generally I would recommend this place to martini lovers :)
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