Button your waistcoat and buff that pocket watch – Bottle, Boot & Cigar (BBC) is one for the gentry. The shelves are stocked with a huge selection of rare bottles, many not found anywhere else in town; exotic bitters, some of which are house-made; and bartenders who, frankly, seem to nail it every single time. This really is one of those places where you can walk in, ask for precisely what you want, and actually receive it.
The venue – a small spot across from The Big Smoke – is the long-awaited project of bar consultant Doug Williams (who calls himself a ‘boulevardier’ on his business cards), who has notched up experience at some of the finest cocktail bars in town (Apothecary and Janes and Hooch, among others). He’s finally made his dream a reality with this tiny, two-room showcase of booze behind an imposingly ornate wrought-iron door. Imbibing here feels like crawling into a tiny, if immaculately stocked, alcohol cabinet. Indeed, the popularity of the place means that patrons are sometimes forced to imbibe their martinis on the street.
But, oh, those martinis! Based on our vague, incoherent ramblings, the bartenders managed to craft a perfect gimlet (70RMB), as well as a fragrant, strawberry-basil concoction (80RMB) that was quickly passed around so everyone could sample its refreshing sweetness.
Bottle, Boot & Cigar is keen to get the classics right, but its bartenders will mix up pretty much anything you desire at the drop of a top hat. Indeed, the staff go to great lengths to teach their clientele the virtues of high-end mixology. They sell bottles to take home, as well as bartender sets to encourage you to try your hand at mixing your own. Cuban cigars are also available (a Romeo y Julieta will set you back 400RMB). And if you’re truly dedicated to the whole private gentlemen’s club idea, the back room will have professional shoeshines and straight-razor shaves in the future. What ho, Jeeves! It’s easy enough to scoff at all this as stuffy pretension, but if you’re a cocktail nerd you’ll love this place. And if you aren’t? You will be by the time you leave
By Sean Silbert