It is a wet, cold and dark Thursday. Your index fingers are sore from typing as you bash the keyboard at an annoying level of decibels, frustrated by your slow progression caused by your inept two finger style. You frantically try to recall the proper use of basic grammar of which in reality you have no real idea. Words do not spell themselves and you get annoyed with yourself for only getting a “G” in English at GCSE. Then there is the “ping” of yet another email throwing you off your train of thought for you are impatient and have to look at every correspondence the moment you are aware of it’s existence. But then you open it and a smile develops broadly across your entire face for occasionally the contents of an email can do that. This was clearly one such email and must needed.
Would I like to go to Trader Vics at the Hilton on Park Lane for cocktails and the first of their “Lei’d Back Sessions” with soulful songstress Loretta Heywood, best known for her ethereal vocals with 90’s electronic band Bomb The Bass? Yes I would thank you. It would be the perfect pick me up.
My 18 year old son is back from Uni so I asked if he could prise himself away from his lovely girlfriend and be my +1. After a few minutes discussion he jumped at the chance. He is a first year student at the British Institute of Modern Music studying guitar. Not a bad degree to do and an excellent establishment whose Alumini include James Bay and Tim Odel so right up his street.
We walked briskly to Park Lane from Victoria Station to arrive at 19:00. We had chatted via twitter with another blogger, Kassie from www.styledevoured.uk who we agreed to meet there. I had not met Kassie before or seen her blog but loved it as soon as I saw it. She seemed so passionate about food and drinks which is always good in my book and I knew we would be in good company.
Entering the Hilton you turn immediately left and are transported into a world a million miles away from the grey, hum drum skies and hustle and bustle. The first thing you notice as you enter Trader Vics is the low light levels. It took time for our eyes to adjust but when they did it was magical. We were transported into a world of Polynesian magic with warm, rich and deep colours. We were inside a upmarket beach bar at night in the good part of town. This was not a place to partake in watery, industrial lagers but serious cocktails served with pride and knowledge. We were escorted to an area reserved for us and sat on high stools with a small round table. My eyes had not yet adjusted so looking at the menu to choose a cocktail was proving quite hard. I am not sure why I even looked as it was obvious what we would order – Mai Tai’s.
Trader Vics is the home of the Mai Tai and on their website the following quote is displayed proudly :-
“In 1944, after success with several exotic rum drinks, I felt a new drink was needed. I was at the service bar in my Oakland restaurant. I took down a bottle of 17-year old Jamaican J. Wray Nephew rum, added fresh lime, some Orange Curacao from Holland, a dash of Rock Candy syrup, and a dollop of French Orgeat, for its subtle flavor. A generous amount of shaved ice and vigorous shaking by hand produced the marriage I was after.
Half the lime shell went in for color … I stuck in a branch of fresh mint and gave two of them to Ham and Carrie Guild, friends from Taihiti, who were there that night.
Carrie took a sip and said, “It’s Mai Tai – Roa Ae!” In Tahitian this means “Out of this World – The Best”. Well, that was that. I named the drink “Mai Tai”.
We were to enjoy what turned out to be countless cocktails during the evening served by the magnificent barman Eric. I say countless and we did genuinely lose count as we had such a good time with our new friends that time slipped away. Food was bought comprising some of the bar snacks on offer including Beef Cho Cho that we finished ourselves by flame grilling it over a blue flame, crispy prawns, cheese balls with cheddar, emmental, coriander and jalapeño and BBQ spare ribs. All were delicious and I could have eaten then all 3 times over. There really is nothing like drinking and grazing in my world. I love it!
As Loretta began her set we all commented on how “Lei’d Back” it actually was. The previous evening I had been in a rammed bar in Soho and could hardly move, yet here we could sit, listen, chat and take in the whole vibe. It was genuinely so relaxing but engaging. Loretta’s music was a varied mix of classics and her voice at times sent shivers down your spine. As we finished our drinks more would be ordered with recommendations taken from Eric. I was to have a few Tiki Puka Puka consisting of 3 types of rum (including a 75% one!), orange juice, grenadine and spices. Simply delicious and strong which is how I like it. I have to admit that I cannot recall all the names of the cocktail we enjoyed as note taking fell by the wayside but I know I had a couple of “suffering bastards” which I am sure described everyone at our table as they had to listen to my stories.
The night was so enjoyable. Not only did I get to spend it with my son, but we met Kassie and her +1 Daniel who was also great company. At this moment I am struggling to think of anything better in London to do midweek. Entry is a mere £10 and includes a cocktail so what better way to relax and de-stress than with incredible music, great company and delicious cocktails.
The third gig is on 5th May with sultry Blues singer Annie Bea, who has what some call an encyclopaedic knowledge of jazz lyrics influencing her tone and style. Tickets are £10 and include a cocktail as mentioned.
Trader Vic’s restaurant is open daily from 6 p.m. – 11.30 p.m. For Trader Vic’s, call 020 7208 4113 or email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit their website here: www.tradervicslondon.com