BAR REVIEW: Reverend JW Simpson, Fitzrovia
Oh dear, the former home of a holy man has been converted into a cocktail bar; if my Grandma could see me now she would give me a deep, stern look of contempt. And to make matters worse, Rev JW Simpson bar is named after the man himself, so I can’t even plead ignorance! Despite my religious upbringings, I’m a sucker for a good cocktail and with the promise of a ‘Spirited Sermon’, I find myself taking a trip to one of Goodge Street’s latest bars.
Going through the big black door and down a narrow staircase, it actually feels like walking into someone’s flat. Once in the dimly lit main bar, I’m shown to a back room with yellow stained wallpaper and furnishings that ironically remind me of my Grandma’s home. Our host informs us that the bar was a nightclub for over 50 years and when it was taken over last year, they striped the walls back and found many of the original features as kept by Reverend Simpson. Rather than change things, they simply gave the place a good clean and the Rev JW Simpson bar was born.
This evening, I’ll be treated to mead, mead, and more mead for a special masterclass showcasing one of the world’s oldest alcoholic beverages and how this forgotten ingredient can still be used in cocktails. The expert bartenders guide us threw the history of this fermented honey and water based spirit, tasting our way through cider like mead, mead wine, and spiced mead; all delicious if you have a sweet tooth.
But what I really came here to try were the bespoke cocktails that you are unlikely to find in very many bars worldwide. First up, I tried the Mead Feast; an interesting bittersweet, mojito style combination of mead, Quince Liqueur and lemon juice, served through a metal straw to ensure maximum coldness. Although refreshingly sharp, it wasn’t the ideal drink to combat the freezing temperatures outside. However, we were then informed that the next drink on the menu was a hot toddy style drink. The honey mead, cinnamon, and citrus juices brought back memories of homemade flu remedies and was exactly what was needed to send us on the journey home.
Looking around Rev Simpson’s former home, I’m sure he spent many a night curled up in front of a fire (possibly enjoying a cheeky drink when no one was around). Although the preacher man may not agree wholeheartedly with what now goes on under his roof, even he would be satisfied in the knowledge that his home is bringing joy to so many. A hidden gem.
There are cocktail master classes taking place on 11th December and 12th February priced £26.25pp (inc booking fee). Click Here to book your place.
Reverend JW Simpson, 32 Goodge Street, W1T 2QJ