Monday, 20 June 2011

Feeling some JuJu magic

About a month ago, we received a fun little request from local mag DV8Fulham: visit the Kings Road haunt JuJu, sample a range of cocktails, and interview sexy head barman Christian for their Barman of the Month segment. Having been to Babushka's (way back in the day - I realise JuJu has been there a while!) we had long been intrigued by JuJu, so as you can imagine we didn't really need to be asked twice.

From the outside, JuJu does look a little like your typical Kings Road swanky bar (read: expensive, with a high possibility of being pretentious). Although it is pricey, I would argue that the cocktails are probably worth the money, and there is also a little club downstairs to boot, and they also serve a variety of pan-Asian food so you can make a pretty complete evening of it.

JuJu has a dark, atmospheric interior which is pretty spacious. The cocktail list is extensive, and for the most part very inventive. Christian, the head bartender, received the Outstanding Mixology award at the London Bar and Club Awards 2010, and most of the menu is his own design. He's also more than willing to go off menu and seems to delight in quizzing punters on their favourite tastes and tailoring a new creation to suit. On the day we were there he had been experimenting with Hibiscus and had made his own liqueur - we tried it with champagne and the result was delicately sweet and unusual. I was a fan, although Sarah did find it a little sweet for her tastes. Still - top marks for trying, and Hibiscus certainly makes for a fairly original "home brew" (especially as the closest I've ever got to making my own alcohol is shoving a packet of skittles in a cider bottle aged 14 - the result was fairly revolting!).

Between us, Sarah and I tried the Strawberry Haze (Strawberry puree, Bulldog gin, Strawberry liqueur and Veuve Cliquot champagne) and the Heaven of Earth (jasmine tea mixed with Bulldog gin, and a passion fruit slice, topped with Veuve Cliquot champagne). Whilst the former was definitely one for those with a sweeter tooth, the puree provided a pleasant velvet texture whilst the dryer taste of the champagne went a long way to counteract the sugary strawberry.

The Heaven of Earth was the true success of the night: it was beautifully delicate and aromatic (albeit a bit girly: I defy the rugby lads amongst you to order it without a slight blush!). The passion fruit and underlying tea flavours provided each other's perfect counterpoint and it came served with a beautiful edible flower (told you it was girly). Apparently Christian created it for Magnum ice creams, as part of their latest 'rainforests' campaign - and his skills were not wasted.

As we attended on a Wednesday evening (and the venue was closed to the public for a shoot - more on that later!), we can't really vouch for the atmosphere and general clientele. With the location and price point, it could be that it's frequented by a certain Kings Road "type" (if you know what we mean) but it always seems to be doing a good trade on the weekends, and for these cocktails it's definitely worth the visit.

However, the clientele on the evening we visited were a pretty exciting bunch indeed. As mentioned earlier, the venue was closed to the public that evening for a photo shoot: with the Made in Cheslea cast no less! Sipping champagne cocktails with Francis Boulle certainly added an extra, shall we say, "dimension" to the evening and it was really interesting to chat to the producers and get the behind the screens low-down.

Though we can't promise you'll be rubbing shoulders with Spencer and the gang (whether that's such an attraction or not is debatable anyway!), we can promise you a mean cocktail - and you should certainly go and put Christian to the test and see if he can whip you up your perfect cocktail!

316-8 Kings Road, Chelsea, London SW3 5UH.

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