Alcohol has a long history of oiling the wheels of the world’s greatest writers. F. Scott Fitzgerald and Kerouac admittedly drank far too muchy. Hemingway was, a bit like his sentences, slightly more restrained and mad ol’ Edgar Allan Poe was constantly off his face. What unfortunately often comes with this history and tradition though, is snobbery. That is where W2-based whiskey bar and restaurant, Salt, is truly a turn up for the history books. Offering a selection of the best bourbons, ryes and malts from around the world, you’ll certainly feeling all kinds of creative. In fact, if you attempt to taste aaaall of their wares, you may even feel inclined to paint the pavement.
Salt, about a one minute’s walk from Marble Arch station, is a sort of inverted V-shaped bar. At its apex rests a brightly lit, two-tiered back bar, filled with pretty much every whisky you could dream of finding. Bright spotlights light the highly polished marble bar top and impossibly thin plasma televisions hang on the left and right side of the room. Below them are black tables and leather chairs. An outside seating area, lit like a Parisian-bistro, is available too. The aesthetic is modern and minimal, allowing the drinks to take centre stage.
Music: Ambient, Lounge
Dress Code: Smart/Casual
Train Station: Marble Arch
Address: Salt Bar, 82 Seymour Street, London, W2 2JB
On top of offering whisky, there’s an extensive Indian food menu and shisha for outside. But you’re not coming here for that. Their whisky menu, which goes over 13 pages and covers a whole host of countries imports, is where Salt’s at its best. Scotland and America make a strong showing and Irish, Canadian, Japanese, Welsh and Indian distilleries are given some time too. Cut with a drop of water, the Highland Dalwhinnie Distillers Edition offers a smooth and buttery flavour. It’s a lovely drink and, at £6 per 25ml, light on the wallet. Cocktails, draught beer and traditional spirits are available if you want, but they’re supporting acts; you can skip them and still make the main show. It does take a while to get past Dizzie Rascal and Nicki Minaj playing in a whisky bar and restaurant, though. But then you realise: Salt isn’t trying to be like every other whisky bar – dark, old fashioned and exclusively filled with stuffy older gentlemen. Salt is precisely the opposite: a really relaxed, unpretentious space. Their music choice, like their decoration, reflects that desire for simplicity.
Salt wear the knowledge of their whisky lightly. Rather than complex whisky-ese descriptions, their menu is clear and accessible. The staff are similarly friendly, proud of their selection and careful with it. Rather than simply throwing your drink into the glass, it’s poured carefully – one quick tip of the measure for the top third, then the remainder slowly poured – so it doesn’t spill. Like the flawless Glencairn whisky glasses and dainty Glenfiddich water jugs, these small details contribute to the experience immensely. And just as there are many different regions for producing whisky, so too are there drinkers here. You’ll get the odd playboys wearing sunglasses at night smoking shisha outside, but they’re rare and ignored. More often than not, the well-versed having their favourite dram alongside those newly awakened and finding their whisky feet.
A JD and coke has become an institution that, like a G&T, many forget there’s actually a spirit in their drink with history and tradition worth exploring. But there’s such a large range of whiskys in the world that you owe it to yourself to try something different. A spirit that has the kind of following that whisky has should have a bar dedicated to its unique qualities. Salt expertly takes a modern setting and an unstuffy atmosphere and blends it like a master of mixology. There doesn’t, in fact, seem to be a whole lot that Salt misses the mark on. With such a massive catalogue of international imports, we suppose the only thing up for question would've been whether to spell the ‘Whisky’ in ‘Whisky bar’ with or without the ‘e’. Controversial.