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Food + Drink

A Seat At The Bar: 42 In Mayfair

In our column, A Seat At The Bar we showcase the world’s best bars – from plush cocktail spots to dive bars, and everything in between. This month, we’re spotlighting 42 in Mayfair.

Not so much a seat at the bar as a seat on a sofa – indulge in this cocktail lounge from JKS Restaurants, the team behind London’s most acclaimed Indian restaurants, Gymkhana and Trishna.

The Lowdown

Opened in November 2023, this is the first cocktail lounge from JKS, a team usually focussed on restaurants – which means the bar snacks here are really good too. You’ll enter an almost unmarked building (look out for the number 42 above the door) and alight a set of dark-green lacquered stairs. Get ready for a lavish affair in the heart of Mayfair; the flair and charisma flows from every corner here.

The intricately-carved bar showcases the delicate design of an Indian peafowl and is set against a colour palette of dusty pinks and deep crimson, intended to conjure images of a sunset at Jaisalmer Fort. The decor sets the tone for a rich and indulgent evening ahead. Every inch of 42 is layered with brocade fabrics, patterned carpets and lacquered ceilings – look out for the silk damask walls, heaped with heavy golden frames and topped with paisley print, and don’t miss the Kama Sutra images in the bathroom.

What To Order

Not only is 42 a feast for the eyes, but a feast for the tastebuds too. All the classics are served here, but it’s the house cocktails that really caught our attention. The cocktail menu places Indian ingredients and flavours as the stars of the show and includes the Bagheera featuring Lost Explorer Espadin, weaver ant chutney (yes, it’s exactly what it sounds like – a chutney made from red weaver ants), lime juice and Bansura peppercorn (from the Malabar coast), and the Mr Ilyas, an Old Fashioned with a twist; it’s mixed using Maccallan 12 Double Cask, peanut butter, coconut and fresh black autumn truffle.

But it’s the Dirty Martini with olive-brine papad that really caught our eye. The papad – a popadom made from olive-brine water – takes this much-loved drink to the next level. Bar snacks are well worth skipping dinner for: opt for the achari masala olives, aloo papads and dill raita – each of which only hints at the culinary delights that sister-restaurant Gymkhana, just below the bar, serves up.

When To Go

Open Wednesday through Saturday from 5pm – 2am, this is an ideal spot for an after-work drink but be warned, it’s the kind of place you might find yourself staying at for longer than expected. Make sure you don’t have anything important to do the next day. 

Who To Bring

Someone you don’t mind being seen with (the room is fairly open with no discreet nooks). If you’re a group of four or five, take over a corner of the room and settle in for a fun evening.

The Dress Code

Something seductive and fancy, perhaps velvet or a peep of brocade. Don’t be a wallflower!

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