Oriental opulence and parlour games
There’s no doubt Opium Cocktail & Dim Sum Parlour is a desirable bar, and any cocktail connoisseur worth their salt-rim will have heard of it. But actually finding the place can be trickier as it maintains being exclusive and elusive by not announcing its whereabouts from street level. But don’t be jaded – behind that deep green door in Chinatown you’ll find a beautiful and intoxicating space where artisan cocktails and delicious dim sum reign supreme.
Pretty smokin’ den, then?
A lot of thought has been put into this place, which is evident upon arrival. From the low, dark wooden beamed ceiling and lanterns that cast secretive shadows, to the expertly made cocktails that are shaken behind the central bar-station, there’s an air of being part of some wonderful club in old Shanghai.
Best for when you’re feeling:
Like indulging in some secretive glamour, tucked away from the bustling and noisy world of more central bars. It’s a place for lingering, appreciating and enjoying. Or, if you fancy a quirky place for a party, then Opium have some great spaces available to hire.
Where is it?
Wander down the main stretch of Chinatown and look for the inconspicuous jade door. Ascend some rickety stairs and soon you’re in the main hub of Opium – a place that looks like an old-school smoking den crossed with the amiability of an open plan lounge and kitchen.
Who to go with:
Someone to cosy up with, those who appreciate a fabulously-made Oriental cocktail, and anyone who loves dim sum.
What makes it unique:
The menu features some truly inventive combinations, such as the Opium #5 with prickly pear and dark oolong tea. The team here were one of the original purveyors of the dim sum and cocktail combination – something that works perfectly given the light, salty nature of the snack and the refreshing element of cocktails. It’s good to find a bar so central that isn’t loud and boisterous. There’s something seductive about the low lights, incense and shadowy corners…
So what’s the deal?
Opium are on a mission to refine and perfect their drinks list. The latest offering is sure to delight as the team have extended the choices and presented them in a new way. Now guests can choose from four different cocktail ‘courses’, including aperitifs, mains and digestifs – we defy you not to want to throw yourselves in and have one of each.
The first course cocktails are designed to be slightly lighter and more fragrant, such as the Wild Blossom and the Thyme and Pomegranate Collins. They get more intense and heady from then onwards. Entrée cocktails include the devilishly strong Rum Hanky Panky, while the delightful Bee Sting combines the likes of cachaça, yellow Chartreuse and egg white for something a little more filling. And when you’re ready to wind things up, there are the temptingly sweet choices of a Hello Treacle or a Nuclear Pina Colada to finish on a high (and rather tipsy) note.
And let’s not forget the dim sum – a perfect accompaniment for such fantastic creations. There are a number of platters to choose from, and we honestly couldn’t fault the little pouches of goodness that arrived in bamboo steamers: succulent King Prawn Har Gau, melt-in-your mouth Siu Mai and sumptuous puffs of pork buns.
Heady, seductive and just beautiful, like a jazzed-up 1930s smoking den. Sit by the window and look out over Chinatown as you enjoy your drinks, or perch at the bar and make new friends while admiring the skills of the cocktail-creators.
So what should I order?
The cocktails mentioned above.
Other menu items?
We definitely recommend complementing your cocktail with the dim sum – pillows of flavour combined with salty soy sauce that beg for cocktail accompaniment.
Is it going to break the bank?
At between £10.50 and £14, the cocktails aren’t cheap, but trust us, they’re worth it.
Opium is ticking all the right boxes – amazing cocktails with unique ingredients, delicious nibbles, an intimate
atmosphere – it’s the kind of place you want to bring people back to again and again, but also want to keep to yourself. Now that there are larger areas for hire, it’s the perfect place to host a party, and the guys behind the bar can even teach you a thing or two about the drinks in a special masterclasses. Oh, and it’s open late – well worth remembering…
Open Mon, Tues £ Sat 5pm-12am; Wed 5pm-1am; Thurs 5pm-2am; Fri & Sat 5pm-3am.
Opium Cocktail & Dim Sum Parlour, The Jade Door, 15-16 Gerrard Street, W1D 6JE. T: 020 7734 7276.
Rebecca Milford @rebecca_anne_m