Evening Standard - ES Magazine


Doulgas Blyde falls in love with Speedboat Bar

- 30 Rupert Street, W1 (speedboatb­ar.co.uk)

Open until 1am on Fridays and Saturdays, Soho’s Speedboat Bar combines playful drinks with fiery dishes. The liquid pursuits — frozen, lurid and kitsch of garnish — come care of Swansea-born Elliot Davies, a touring musician turned legendary bartender whose previous roles include the discreet, moneyed Maison Estelle, taxidermy enriched Satan’s Whiskers and the ever-consistent Hawksmoor collection. ‘Speedboat’s dive-bar vibe reminds me of a place on Koh Pha-Ngan where I hung out for two months,’ says Davies. Taking inspiratio­n from Thai-Chinese restaurant­s in Bangkok’s Chinatown and the high-octane sport of speedboat racing along the country’s klongs (canals), the tube-lit interior features nautical craft strung from the ceiling, a pool table seemingly never out of use and TV screens airing Thai football.

Served in ice-cold glasses, the surprising­ly complex ‘world’s best’ whisky soda features hyper-carbonated bubbles calibrated to the bar team’s wishes, while the creamier King Colada is pepped with Mekong Thai rum, just enough palm sugar and a touch of the polarising, fragrant, visceral durian. And to relieve the jaded, the Ya Dong Bomb shot features a measure of Thai caffeine drink, M-150, to the fore. And then there are the portable, sou’wester-yellow Singha beer towers replete with frozen canister inserts, dispensing a dozen lip-stinging halves. Such drinks either enrage or quell arrestingl­y presented dishes such as tail-on, powerfully piquant prawn ceviche with guava purée, or crunchy pickled mustard greens with Chinese sausage — by consultant chef, Luke Farrell. ‘I like to see young bartenders who were hit with a year inside during lockdown have fun, build brilliant drinks and develop their personalit­ies,’ says Davies of his team. ‘Speedboat is unabashed with no holds barred.’ It is also arguably the most enjoyable drinking hole in London.

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