Bar, nightclub and notorious pick-up venue is quite a reputation to be handed in your first month of trade, but Ms Collins owns it all with no shame or pretense, making it refreshing for the up-market drink scene.
It used to be the multi-faceted venue with several cuisines, styles of drink and a cigar room known as Silk Road, but Ms Collins has painted over classic chiaroscuro Renaissance images with rollers carrying thick, black paint, pasted them on the ceiling to reference the Sistine Chapel and added a sculpture of a horse threatening to fall from the entrance next to bold pastels and racy neon signs. It sounds a sham, but works whether the venue is pumping club nights where the drink of choice is a vodka, lime and soda or sparse with the late-night business contingent sipping on Yamazaki 18yo while eating from the four-chef strong consulted menu.
The house cocktails sound hard, fast and sweet with concoctions such as vodka, crème de cassis, Ribena and black sugar syrup making the list, but given the time, the worded up bartenders are happy to tailor drinks according to tastes. On this occasion, a Last Word is offered up in a perfectly balanced mix of gin, green Chartreuse, maraschino liqueur and lime that exceeds the expectations of a venue hosting club nights two nights of the week. Be warned though; spirits come at premium prices and a martini of any variety could easily push $30. Given the club crowds at the end of the week, champagne is an obvious feature with mass-produced, by-the-bottles starting in the hundreds.
The food, too, is surprising coming from Dan Wilson, Jacques Reymond, Paul Wilson and Riccardo Momesso, billed as international street fare and produced by the in-house team. The good news is that it is well varied, cheap and cooked by trained chefs rather than a catering mob, meaning that the product is tasted before it is served, consistent and well translated.
Approach Ms Collins with caution: know your crowd, budget and tastes and you’ll be guaranteed a hoot.