The Powder Room, housed within an establishment called The Black Swan evokes either a pirate-themed tavern with a sense of irony, or a throwback to an era of noir, glamour, and decadence. Thankfully, it is the latter, and gloriously so.
Set in the mezzanine lounge of The Black Swan, its glamour and theatricality, is unabashedly drawn from the decadent 1920s, a time of a great cultural shift in America. The ’20s was also a great era for Jazz, something that The Powder Room has not forgotten. You can come to expect great Jazz acts; the house band, Steve Mcqueens, perform standards as well as fresh standards during their “All That Jazz” sessions on Tuesday nights. Sultry songstress Alicia Pan will also be there monthly (upcoming: 6 Aug, 23 Sep, 9pm) to serenade you with her R&B inspired jazz numbers.
However excellent the decor and entertainment may be, it’s more important the drinks should be equally, if not more, lavish. No worries here. The Powder Room’s glitzy homage to the roaring twenties inspired Group Bar Mentor Julian Serna to create some delightful concoctions for the bar. “I wanted to celebrate the old world drinking institutions of the past, with their free-spirited rule-bending and unparalleled revelry,” he shared. Serna joined The Lo & Behold Group from Eau de Vie, one of The World’s 50 Best Bars, and his marriage of bar and kitchen in cocktail crafting is something you need to experience for yourself. More than just a tipple to pander to your tastebuds, the preparation and presentation is inexplicably, yet suitably theatrical – you’re here to live it.
You may think that it’s a tad heavy-handed in trying to be excessive, but the menu is tastefully based on classics with a clever twist; a theatrical presentation backed with old world recipes that have been invigorated with new world techniques such as sous vide for greater, and unexpected, intensity.
Bubble Yum (Light & Fruity) is in their words, ‘a playful ode to the rebel in all of us’. Inspired by the bold and beautiful flappers of the 1920s, arguably the decade’s most iconic symbol, this cocktail pays tribute to the newly empowered women who constantly chewed gum with an attitude. It features a base of house-infused bubblegum vodka (Serna painstakingly sources a specific bubblegum for this), teased with crisp prosecco, triple sec, lime, fresh mint and raspberry puree. Bubble Yum is presented with a helium balloon in tow; please exercise high pitched shenanigans without discretion.
Babe Ruth (Rich & Full-flavoured) is of course, the The Powder Room’s salute to American baseball legend George Herman “Babe” Ruth, Jr., who was bi-winning long before Charlie Sheen made it a thing. Legendary prowess on and off the field notwithstanding, the flamboyant playboy has been personified by a classic vanilla milkshake spiked with house-infused maple and intense bacon whisky (shout-out to Pigtown, Baltimore) and topped with a bi-winning streak of candied bacon for a mandatory home run.
B.B. King (Rich & Full-flavoured) is another tribute, this time to the recently departed B.B. King. Like the impeccably dressed blues legend – “always dress like you’re going to the bank to try to borrow money” – this concoction is chock-full of swag, and inevitably, it is a take on the classic Old Fashioned. However it showcases its own house-infused banana whiskey, and it goes down slow and smooth, B.B.’s sweet blues licks – simple but heartfelt and sublime; a climax of precise, earthy notes from smoked maple syrup and BBQ bitters, which hits its climax with a bite-sized banana whiskey sorbet cone and leaves you with a sobering thought: how blue can you get now the thrill is gone?
Playing with Fire (Complex & Stiff) alludes to the underground parties of the time, where fear of police raids made every sip ‘an illicit thrill’. Torched before being served to reveal a potent bouquet of classic Martell Cordon Bleu interwined with fragrant spice notes of cinnamon, cloves and star anise; the perfect personification of the Roaring Twenties: exhilarating, provocative and simply unforgettable. This can’t be good for the health, can it?
Thank You For Smoking (Complex & Stiff) celebrates to fine vices in life, or specifically, two of the finest ever conceived by homo sapiens: barrel-aged cigar tobacco and coffee gets infused in whisky, which is then slightly finessed with port reduction, chocolate bitters and cherry notes. Remarkably complex and intriguing, the sort of considered depravity that Fitzgerald and Hemingway themselves would have approved.
The Powder Room is located at 19 Cecil Street.