Ever since hearing about the planned launch of Sterling Bar I have been excited to see just how it turned out.
I ventured down on its first weekend of business, making sure I went down early, as I know just how busy some of the cities other cocktail bars can get.
You enter Sterling Bar via its own entrance, just to the right of the main door to the Stock Exchange Hotel and Bull & Bear Restaurant. The entrance hall and stairs down to the old vault still feels like part of the hotel, which of course it is.
The first thing that struck me on entering, was its size. This is a much larger space of other great cocktail bars in the city, including Speak In Code, The Wash House and its own sister bar, Schofields Bar. Something that means visiting these bars on the spare of the moment can be quite restrictive.
The space was originally used as a private dining area for Bull & Bear, however the decision to open it up as a bar, both to hotel guests and the public, is a fantastic idea.
Despite being much larger in size, it still maintains its intimate vibe as well as shouting upmarket sophistication. Each table has discrete lighting and you soon forget that its the middle of the day outside!
The bar is fairly quiet when I first arrive, however as I said before, it is 2pm on a Saturday afternoon, plus is doesn’t take long for it start filling up.
I start by ordering a cocktail from their menu, which is served by friendly and knowledgable staff.
While I enjoy the cocktail, I also browse the small but interesting ‘Bar Snacks Menu’
A small selection of dishes created by Lush by Tom Kerridge, who is also behind the hotels restaurant, Bull & Bear.
First I try the Pigs Cheek Croquettes (£12.50), which as expected are a delight. Melt in the mouth middle with a crispy outer are somewhat different to a few nuts in a bowl.
I then opt to try the Truffled Cheese Gougeres (£11.50). Again I feel like there is no where else I would rather be in this Saturday afternoon, then sipping cocktails and trying these little plates of delight. Crispy outer spheres are filled with a gooey truffled cheese centre.
Whilst the Cocktail Menu it self isn’t huge, do not be put off by thinking this is all you can order. The spirits section is rather large and most of the options can also be made into a cocktail of choice.
I ask for a Gin Sour and am asked if I have a preference of gin to be used. I say that I’ll leave it up to the bar person.
I am bought the drink and advised that he had opted to use Jenson’s Old Tom, which worked perfectly.
Finally I decide to try out a good old fashioned Martini, Dry with a Twist. Again I am given a choice of which gin would be my preference and for this I choose a Boatyard, an Irish Gin at 46% abv.
Despite its larger size, I can see Sterling Bar very quickly become a firm favorite of the city’s cocktail drinkers as well as with the guests of both Stock Exchange and Bull & Bear, meaning that it wont be long until you wont get a table without a reservation. Luckily, you can reserve them on their website.