Thursday, 13 June 2013

Think pink but bring an umbrella…

A Pink Puppy cocktail
“A man’s reach should exceed his grasp,” Robert Browning opined, “Or what’s a heaven for?” Of course in this country it’s the heavens themselves that can put the kibosh on the most deserving of dreams.

I was invited along to check out a new al fresco pop-up bar on the roof of the Gaucho restaurant in London’s Canary Wharf. It is sponsored by Veuve Clicquot and is raising money for breast cancer research—not only is Veuve’s rosé Champagne very much in evidence, but everything else is pink too. There is a signature cocktail called the Pink Puppy that is impressively close in shade to the pink furniture and pink drinks menu. They have deckchairs and daybeds, and they’ve even brought in some pink S-shaped love seats—I don’t know if it is intentional but, viewed from the side, these look like giant brassieres.

The bar was only intended to be in existence for three weeks, but during this time they had a schedule of live music—including a resident pink piano—and were planning a boules tournament on the grass, culminating in finals at the end of the run, with a prize of a jaunt on the Gaucho Sunseeker yacht.

I had originally planned to swing by last Friday, but at the last minute the PR announced that it was closed that day (on a Friday night?). So I finally popped by on Tuesday. Fortunately the pinkness of the furnishing made it easy to tell I was in the right place, because I wouldn’t otherwise have known that there was supposed to be a bar there at all. It was a rather inclement evening: it has been drizzling on and off and with the wide view across the river we could see that more grey clouds were heading our way. There were no customers and the furniture was all being packed away as we arrived at 6pm. The press release had promised cocktail waitresses in pink uniforms by Thomas Pink, but there were only burly chaps stacking the seats and windbreaks in one corner.

Everything is carefully colour-coordinated
The pop-up had opened on 28th May and the manager assured me that the previous week, which had at last seen some summer weather, had been packed, but now the elements had turned on us.

Not only that, but the Canary Wharf authorities had forbidden them from playing boules on the grass (apparently for health and safety reasons—go figure) and when local residents got wind of the plans they organised a petition against the bar on noise grounds, with the result that the music (which was only ever going to be acoustic) was banned too. They are also obliged to use only plastic glassware, presumably in case the combination of sun and Champagne drives all the bankers into vicious bottle-fights (having run out of boules with which to pelt each other).

Still, the furniture was fun (although the rigid plastic love seats would have benefited from drainage holes, as they had turned into bird baths in the rain) and the bar staff were instructed to stop packing it away for a minute and craft us some Pink Puppies. Although served in a Champagne flute, there is actually no Champagne in this one. It has a Belvedere vodka base plus a clever combination of citrus—lemon, lime and grapefruit juices—some egg white for texture, chocolate bitters and just enough grenadine to give it the colour. It’s an enticing drink, with a subtle harmony of flavours, and dangerously quaffable.

If you find yourself in the Canary Wharf area between now and 18th June (when the bar’s run comes to an end) and it is actually a sunny evening, get yourself down to Westferry Circus, bask in the glow with a Pink Puppy in hand (oo-er) and watch the majestic sunset. But knowing the British summer, you may end up having to make your own Pink Puppy indoors as the storm batters the windows.

What the bar looks like when it is sunny

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