Grand Marnier Launch Rooftop Bubble Bar

Mimi ON Sep 11, 2012 AT 11:56 am

Grand Marnier’s Rooftop Bubble Bar

by Chrissy Iley

Last night I drank from a bubble – ginger ale and Grand Marnier – on a rooftop bar. I was sitting inside an actual bubble; a kind of exotic tent with a double entrance so you felt hermetically sealed and experienced strange acoustics which made the whole thing feel spacy and other worldy.

You would never believe you were in Brixton until the cast of Boy George’s revamped musical Taboo filed by as their show, in another part of the building, ended.

The specially made red bubble shaped drinking glasses were to enhance the flavours and focus of the Grand Marnier liqueur within.

Before the bubble evening I thought of Grand Marnier as the orangey liqueur my mother used to put on pancakes on Shrove Tuesday. In the Seventies it was big. It appeared in restaurants and flambéed all kinds of dinners and it was a refreshing after dinner cocktail with ice before Baileys flooded the market.

Nothing is more evocative of an era than the drink that defines it. In the early sixties Don Draper style ad men drank whisky, no rocks. They smoked cigarettes all day and whisky was for lunch, breakfast and all night. James Bond drank his martini shaken not stirred, something which cocktail maestro Salvatore Calabrese gets very shaken up about. According to him that ruins the Martini.

The Martini itself. Another evocative word. I remember meeting my friend Nancy Brady who was hosting a Martini competition in the 1990s. I was a judge. It was in the Atlantic bar, now the Brasserie Zédel. What a night and what a bonding. Nancy is still one of my closest friends and a connoisseur of the greatest Martini’s.

These days when we order say a rose and lychee Martini we are being a little old fashioned. Vodka isn’t cool any more. It’s all about the Gin cup. But we’re kind of stuck in our ways like some people are stuck in the same hairstyle or lipstick, they let it define them.

My mother thought bar impresario Jonathan Downey was a wonderful man because he gave her a Vodka and orange cocktail which reminded her of her youth. It was a little like a Snowball. After three of those she asked me in all seriousness why I had not considered marrying him. She was in her element and taken there by that special elixir that reminds you of a time and a place.

The Grand Marnier people are trying not to be the drink poured on my mother’s pancakes or the after dinner tipple that she might have with her friends after Boeuf Bourguignon and Black Forest gateau.

Grand Marnier, a blend of tropical oranges and cognac, seems to be saying we are as refreshing as a gin and tonic for that cocktail hour which begins at different times and different parts of the world.

Cocktail hour is after 3pm in Alabama, after 4.30pm in Broadstairs and around 5 o’clock everywhere else.
A man made bubbles, square ones, large ones. He put bubbles around people. Pretty to look at although a little damp for the person in the bubble. Turns out he is a special bubble sculptor.

The other cocktail on offer was the Grand Esprit with elderflower cordial and soda water. It tasted like a Parisian Pimms. A little too floral for my taste but the Grand Ginger is like this season’s Moscow Mule – simple, refreshing, reliable. Enjoyed best in a bubble and celebrated by the ginger cat below.

The Grand Marnier Rooftop Bubble Bar is at The Brixton Clubhouse until October 4.

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