Drink: Strike it rich

Jonathan Downey has repeated the success, and name, of his first cocktail bar, Match, at a new venue in the West End
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Indy Lifestyle Online
The man who made the Match bar happen has finally given up his day job. Two months ago, Jonathan Downey was a corporate lawyer who owned one of London's most highly rated cocktail bars. At the end of October, when a second Match opened just north of Oxford Street, the legal career had to make way for a different call to the bar.

The original Match, in Clerkenwell, London, was launched two years ago, which makes it one of the pioneers in the cocktail revival. It succeeded because it was serious about mixing drinks with not a lemon twist out of place - and with neither a glace cherry nor an umbrella in sight. The not-so-secret reason for the quality of the cocktails was that it employed the peripatetic cocktail meister Dick Bradsell, who has trained staff for the second Match to meet the standards of the original, where the Cosmopolitan came first in a test of cocktails at top venues.

When the first opened, there were few bars, outside hotels, that majored in pukka cocktails. Downey wanted a relaxed version of a New York bar, that would put the artistry back into party drinks, but at the same time keep them pure and simple. "I want to get back to basics, to the flavour and essence of an alcoholic drink," he said. Bombay Sapphire is the house gin; Daiquiris are always made with Havana Club. Downey's current favourite is the Whisky Sour. "I like alcohol with very little else, so you can taste what you're drinking, especially the dark liquors like rum or bourbon."

Match mark two is twice the size of the original, and it cost twice as much, but, like its predecessor, it is very laid-back. You can choose to drink in any of three different areas: at the bar, in one of the alcoves, or in the lounge at the far end, which has lovely, dark-brown leather seating. This isn't a bar that makes class distinctions - nobody will turn their nose up at those drinking bottles of Coors, and, unlike many new bars, you don't have to be a member - but there's as much class in every glass here as you'll find at many more exclusive bars.

1. Mitch Martini

A signature drink, created by Giovanni Burdi. "Probably one of the few good cocktails to make the most of the lovely flavours of Zubrowka," says Jonathan Downey.

2 shots Zubrowka bison-grass vodka

1 shot apple juice

1/3 shot passion syrup

5ml dash peach liqueur

Shake all these together with three or four ice cubes and strain into a Martini glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.

2. The Wibble

A Dick Bradsell invention which is so synonymous with Match that the bar calls itself the "home of the Wibble".

1 shot Plymouth gin

1 shot Plymouth sloe gin

1 shot grapefruit juice

1/3 shot freshly squeezed lemon juice

1/3 shot sugar syrup

1/3 shot creme de mure

Shake all ingredients together in a shaker with three or four ice cubes and strain into a chilled Martini glass. Lightly squeeze a twist of lemon peel on to the top and drop the peel into the drink.

3. The Big Mak

More elaborate than most drinks at Match, this was invented by Giovanni Burdi, one of the original bartenders.

1 shot (25ml) cranberry juice

2 shots Maker's Mark bourbon

1 shot raspberry puree, or several fresh raspberries

1/3 shot Chambord black raspberry liqueur

1/3 shot freshly squeezed lime juice

1/3 shot gomme sugar syrup

Pour all of the ingredients into a tumbler over three or four ice cubes, cover the top with the lid from a cocktail shaker and shake vigorously. Then fill a Collins glass a third of the way up with crushed ice and pour the drink through a Hawthorn cocktail strainer and into the glass.

Match, 37-38 Margaret Street, London W1 (0171-499 3443), open Mon-Fri 11am-midnight, Sat 6pm-midnight.