The Vault, London
Hidden behind a large bookcase at the end of a whisky shop and down a dark staircase you’ll find The Vault, one of London’s best speakeasies. The cocktail bar always served as a secret space, formally a tasting room behind one of London’s oldest restaurants known for its 3 martini lunches back in the day. But around two years ago Simo took over the space and ran the bar until nabbing Chris Tanner from Milk & Honey and leaving him to transform the place.
But Chris didn’t always know what he was doing. At 18 he moved to Paris working freelance in fashion as a model and journalist. There he met his lady with whom he moved back to London. He began working in a bar pulling pints, made some key contacts and landed a spot at the Experimental Cocktail Club where he began to learn the craft.
The idea at The Vault is to keep it simple. And we don’t just mean the cocktails. Candlelight flickers through the exposed-brick and wooden room mimicking a warm, yet sexy atmosphere. A few sparse paintings line the walls, a deep brown couch and glazed concrete bar match the no-frills concept Chris puts forward. He’s relaxed in a cosy denim tee, greeting customers warmly and effortlessly with a “Hey pal, can I help?”
He moves around with confidence as he prepares his glasses and stirring spoons, telling us about the new seasonal menu he’s working on. Everything is made in a small kitchen just off the back of the bar. And unlike in the old times, you can’t purchase whisky from upstairs at Milroys and come to The Vault to have it served. And you wouldn’t want to…not with a menu that boasts a coconut butter old fashioned or Japanese Rose Garden. By now Chris has added a bit of Brockmans gin and nettle & lime cordial to a crystal glass and has been stirring for 2 minutes. He tastes it every so often to see if he’s achieved the right smoothness before whirling the spoon around a bit more. Finally pleased, he squeezes a few bits of lemon rind atop and hands us our cocktail… Refreshingly smooth and sweet, the lemon oil gives it a tart finish it needs and we sit back enjoying the ambiance…
We’re a neighbourhood bar with a real sense of community. Service and narrative is everything.
Best thing you’ve ever overheard at your bar?
“Is it too soon for Myra Hindley on a first date?”
Why do you think gin is so popular?
It’s probably because G&Ts are so delicious. Gin isn’t as daunting as whisky…you know, full of old guys nosing. With maybe even too many gins out there you can really explore and find one you like.
What is it about Brockmans that appeals to you?
I like the idea of using blackberries. It reminds me of Ribena with a nice finish. Good length.
If you could have one last drink before you died, what would you choose?
A bobby burns. Simple, fun. A drink for as much as sobriety will allow.
By Chris Tanner
- 20ml Nettle and lime cordial
- 60ml Brockmans Gin
Stir over ice until diluted and very cold, serve into a small stemmed glass with a small lump of ice and express the oil of a lime zest over the top.