The Handbook
The Handbook

When The Handbook heard that Sofitel St James had recently launched its spring/summer cocktail menu we knew that we just had to go and try it out. So on a Tuesday evening we escaped the bustle of Piccadilly, headed over to the hotel and took a seat in the decadent St James Bar.

The bar draws inspiration from Coco Chanel’s 1920’s apartment, with a décor of Shagreen and kinon topped tables, dark hues, French antique gilt chairs and low sofas and dusky lighting. It’s intimate without being overbearing; quiet without it feeling awkward and at 7pm there was of mix of girls out for cocktails like us and those holding late work meetings over drinks – making business that little bit more bearable.

Bar Manager Emilio Moscati has equally used Chanel as his muse which is why you’ll find cocktails such as the 1921 – a muddle of Pinky Vodka, jasmine syrup, rose liquor, lime and cranberry juices and Bergamot mist aptly served in a perfume bottle as it was the year Coco created her infamous perfume No.5.  Others on the menu include the Lady Marmalade based on the film the Moulin Rouge and the Kamelia, so called because it was Coco’s favourite flower.

We chose for the La Vie en Rose, a tribute to Edith Piaf’s 1945 song, but also just in time for Chelsea Flower Show which is happening this week, made with Tanqueray gin, elderflower syrup, cranberry, cucumber, lemon and topped with Rose Champagne, it was beautifully refreshing and perfect on a day as glorious as today. Alongside the La Vie en Rose cocktail, they also have Le Tea en Rose running throughout May in The Rose Lounge, which includes Chocolate dacquoise, jasmine flower mousse and raspberry macaroon; Elderflower jelly, lemon cheesecake crumble and Swiss meringue; and a White chocolate tartlet with a rose crème Chiboust

Based on the classic eggnog cocktail, the Marilyn, is a mix of gin, cucumber, egg white, tomato, basil and gomme syrup – the ingredients are a blend of Coco Chanel’s ‘provencal roots’. Were we to choose just one, then our vote would go to the Marilyn; normally ones to choose sweet flavours, we were surprised by how much we enjoyed this savoury cocktail.

Coco Chanel: timeless, elegant, classic. Emilio Moscati’s cocktails capture her perfectly.