Famed for my love of the mighty Negroni, I was recommended to try out the ‘Campari Bar’ which has opened beneath Polpo restaurant on Beak St. On Tuesday night at just after 6 (you need to get there early for any chance of a seat) we wandered through the main restaurant and down the stairs into a tiny, very dingy room with red lighting and candles. The room contains a small bar area as well as about four small tables, upon each of which you find your ‘instructions’.
These (essential in our disorientation) explain that the bar is based on a traditional Venetian where the form is to pick a wine or spritz (or cocktail!) and point at a couple of the snack or canapé style foods in a small glass cabinet at the bar. NB – The snacks are not optional as it forms part of the license that you have some food with your Campari!
We ordered a Negroni and an Americano – they were mixed perfectly but I did feel slightly hard done by as these were served in thimble sized glasses which would hardly have satisfied a Borrower! In the spirit of ‘when in Venice’, our drinks were accompanied by one of all six ‘snacks’ on offer. Each served on a cocktail stick, these included a small inch-wide square of filled bread which I can only describe as a rather ordinary tuna sandwich, a similar sandwich with salmon, fennel and anchovy on a stick, ham and cheese with an olive, artichoke heart and finally two king prawns in a garlicky sauce.
In addition to Campari the other ‘hero’ spirit behind the bar was Apperol – the lovely barman informed me that Apperol is the aperitif of choice for Venetians, usually served as a spritz. He gave me a small taste and it was delicious – very similar to Campari but slightly sweeter and lighter. Apparently it is not widely sold in the UK but I will be hunting a bottle down as my drink du choix this summer.
We sipped our miniature cocktails and devoured our miniature bar snacks in about 4 minutes and thoroughly enjoyed them. In spite of this, I don’t think we will be rushing back to the Campari bar, it is almost uncomfortably dark and our two thimbles of cocktail and microscopic sandwiches came to a whopping £21; nevertheless, as a one-off experience it was good fun and well worth a visit.