As more high rises appear over the London skyline, there has been a corresponding increase in sky bars offering panoramic views of our beautiful city. The buildings don’t come any taller than the Shard in Western Europe and GONG is officially the highest bar in London.
The view is absolutely phenomenal; I’ve been on the London Eye and the Shard viewing platform, but GONG is at the ideal height and position for crystal clear views of our stunning metropolis. No matter where you sit or even if when you are using their bathrooms, there is not a single area where the view isn’t breathtaking and jaw dropping.
However, what I appreciate even more is their focus and dedication on the main reason why people visit a bar, which is for the drink offerings and they realise the sumptuous views are just icing on top of their cake. Their circle of life cocktails are not just about imbibing, but they bring out emotions in you and make you think. They are divided into 4 sections: the wonder years, first kiss, grown-ups and old school. Innocence turns into wisdom and likewise the cocktails evolve from lightness to increasing complexity.
Born to fly comes in an intricate bird-cage and is unsurprisingly one of their most popular cocktails due to the refreshing nature of the cocktail with fig, basil, citrus and Grey Goose. This is exactly the type of cocktail you can easily overindulge on.
For the next section, I stuck with a vodka-based cocktail in under the sea, but already there was a noticeable progression in terms of added flavours and taste from the creation. There are smoky flavours from the Talisker, ginger flavours from the Domaine de Canton, sweet and salted notes from golden pearl chocolates and seaweed respectively.
For the 2nd half of their menu, you notice the disappearance of vodka all together. I opted for Working 9-5, which had even more of the Talisker along with Cocchi Americano (which is essential for creating James Bond’s vesper martini due to its bitter notes). There are also mastiha, provence bitters, yuzu and umami, which together makes for a beautifully complex cocktail. They’ve cleverly included a small sample of jerkies, which ideally complemented the creation.
I am probably not quite qualified to speak about the final stage of the circle of life, but I was expecting the cocktails in this section to be extremely bitter and difficult tasting. To my surprise, #NTO (Not Too Old ) was one of the most enjoyable cocktails out of the selection. The cocktail is elegantly presented in a dim sum basket inside a GONG hip flask. It has complex and sweet notes coming from maple syrup, orange and specially prepared ginger and lemon shrubs. If old age was genuinely this pleasant tasting, we all have a great deal to look forward to.
It is such a shame, the bar manager is already planning on their next menu for 2017; this is one of the most thoughtful, emotive cocktail menus you will ever experience.