For London’s city types, Savage Garden calls to mind not the 90s Australian pop duo, but an unassuming lane that flanks the Hilton DoubleTree in the capital’s financial district. Select inner circles, however, know it to be the rooftop bar that crowns said hotel. Alight on the 12th floor and here is a cocktail bar that has perfected the art of its craft. Lighting so cleverly muted it should be an Instagram filter, a DJ spinning out skilful laid-back tempos, an army of charming staff and a breathtaking panorama of London that nods to the Walkie-Talkie on the right, The Shard on the left and, further round on the balcony, the Tower of London’s sepulchral turrets.
These dazzling views add up to prime cocktail bar real estate, so really Savage Garden’s dedicated theme of sybaritic debauchery is surplus to requirement. It is rather fun, though: the decadent velvet and leather booths, the needle-sharp punk chandeliers, and a cocktail menu that’s fashioned on criminals and sinister ingredients. Wormwood works a refreshingly bitter underbite into the giddy spritz of the Flambard (of medieval bishop fame) Colada, while the bottle-green billiard ball of ice in Evil Eye melts an inky malachite stain into the heavy moat of tequila that surrounds it.
The ‘dark and depraved’ theme attempts to commandeer the food menu too, but like the bar itself, these dishes need no dressing up: Fries with black garlic aioli, plump tempura oysters, a fat stack of short beef ribs that are melt-off-the-bone tender following a good eight-hour soak in coconut milk. Spare a little room for dessert—not on the menu, but compulsory for Savage Garden’s grand finale. A clutch of hot, fresh cinnamon and sugar-encrusted doughnuts are served with syringes, one filled with raspberry, one with salted caramel. Beautiful, wicked and with a sense of humour? Savage Garden is in line for a second date.