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Issue 38 - Hiding out from the High Street hell

Whisky Magazine Issue 38
April 2004


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Hiding out from the High Street hell

Salt is the first of a new trend – High Street whisky bars. In the first of a new review series Dominic Roskrow visits it

Let's face it, these days the main streets of most major cities aren't the most welcoming places when it comes to going out for a drink.

You have three basic choices; the fashion bars, full of people who make you feel old if you're over 23, drinking concoctions that are often alcoholic fruit drinks, in an environment that is loud, brash and un-welcoming; the old-fashioned bar or pub where decent whisky is unheard of and your feet stick to the floor as you approach the bar; and the hotel bar, which is often so stuffy and formal you don't know whether you should drink, pray or ask which section the reference books are in.

London's hottest new bar, though, is breaking the mould. What's better, it's a whisky bar and proud of it. And there are plenty of people who believe that its blueprint will be copied across Europe as drinkers turn to whisky and look for outlets similar to the ones in major American cities.

It is, to all intents of purposes, a mix of the three types of drinking establishment outlined above. Situated on the Edgware Road close to Marble Arch tube station, it is a converted pub. It has big open windows and minimalist furnishings like a style bar; and its fine Italian restaurant upstairs and attention to its whisky range brings to mind a top hotel bar.

But it has focused on all the good bits of the three, making it the sort of venue you or I could feel at home in – whoever you are. Painted brown so that it feels like an old-fashioned bar, but with all the tr...

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