World’s Best Bars: The dim-lit bar is reached down a stylish staircase lined with candles and floating flowers. The room itself is attractive, cool and blue-walled, with plenty of cosy nooks. The cocktail menu combines classic drinks with subtle, and not so subtle, spicing. The coriander and lychee daiquiri is a fragrant twist on a familiar drink. The Chocolate Orange Martini contains a clever hint of chilli while the Iliana, the world’s spiciest cocktail – is served with a gin cooler for those brave enough to try it. They also serve a menu of lassis, Indian yogurt-based drinks, in both alcoholic and non-alcoholic versions. A beautiful place with some great cocktails.
Daily Candy: Indulge hidden hedonistic tendencies at Zenna — the new Indian cocktail bar in Soho. Dan Thomson has transformed the basement space into a low-lit after-hours den filled with plenty of alcoves, oriental rugs and bronzed statues. Spicy cocktails include an extra-hot Indian Bloody Mary, Bee Sting (honey vodka and jalapeno) and Illiana (spiced rum, orange and a hot sauce so deadly you have to sign a waiver). We recommend impressing your date by ordering from the lassi bar, with a variety of traditional yoghurt-based concoctions infused with alcohol and served with fruit or salt and spices. Don’t want to drink on an empty stomach? Snack on lentil patties with coriander and green chilli, minced lamb skewers, marinated prawns or spicy potato dumplings from The Red Fort restaurant upstairs.
Bar Magazine: With so much competition in the West End, the Red Fort restaurant’s owner Amin Ali has decided to rethink the concept and teamed up with mixologist Dan Thomson to create “London’s first Indian cocktail bar”, Zenna. The name relates to the restaurant above, inspired by the “zenana”, or women’s quarters, in the Red Fort palace in Delhi, but Dan plans to position the bar as a stand-alone destination for cocktails. The original interior by Russell Sparke of RSD Interiors has been given a few tweaks such as low warm lighting to create a chilled luxurious atmosphere. To reach the bar, you walk down steps lined with bronze water vessels filled with floating flowers and twinkling candles. Zenna has azure blue walls, plush blue velvet stools and silk-upholstered gold chairs, with Italian tiles and oriental rugs on the floor. To the left of the bar, which is covered in shimmering metallic discs, are two intimate alcoves with exposed brickwork. Dan has created a new cocktail menu that includes drinks made with Indian ingredients to reflect the cuisine upstairs. Look out for fresh chilli, chai, saffron, coriander and mango as well as Indian single malt whisky Amrut. “We wanted to create a contemporary bar that was still true to its Indian heritage and provide a chic and welcoming space in the midst of Soho,” Dan explains. A “spiced cocktail list” includes what must be “the world’s spiciest cocktail” – the fiery Illiana, which is made with Chairman’s Reserve Spiced rum, orange curaçao, orgeat almond syrup, lime juice and orange juice plus a drop of a “secret” chilli sauce. It comes with a “fire extinguisher” of Bombay Sapphire gin, lemon and soda water, served in a small soda siphon with its own glass. Customers must sign a waiver before drinking it. I managed to get about halfway through the drink, served in a lowball glass, before having to give up. It is a flavoursome cocktail until the chilli kicks in and blitzes the taste. In the meantime, my friends and I sampled a few of the other cocktails on the list. The Chocolate Orange Martini is a delicious combination of Stolichnaya vodka, Cointreau, Mozart chocolate liqueur and a dash of fresh chilli. There are also exotic twists on the classics such as a Chai Tea Martini, a Coriander and Lychee Daiquiri, a Raspberry and Mango Margarita, a Pineapple and Sage Mojito and an Elderflower and Saffron Collins. The list also includes Dan’s cocktail that won him the Spirit of Speyside cocktail competition a year ago – a mix of a Speyside whisky, amaretto, cinnamon syrup, lemon juice and fresh pear juice. Other spiced cocktails include The Red Fort cocktail made with Bombay Sapphire, fresh apple juice, orange juice, strawberry puree, orgeat and hot chillis. Dan has also managed to create alcoholic lassis despite the challenge of mixing a yogurt-based drink with alcohol. The whole list of non-alcoholic lassis can be given an extra pick-me-up, such as adding Saffron Gin to a mango lassi or Zubrowka and crème de banane liqueur to a banana lassi. Snacks and canapés are also available, cooked to order in The Red Fort’s kitchen under head chef Azadur Rahman. “Zenna is London’s first-ever Indian cocktail bar, and the carefully thought-through flavours, recipes and ingredients used in the drinks list as well as the authentic canapés make it a unique offering in the capital,” Dan says. He has bold ambitions for Zenna and, while it will be a challenge for a small bar underneath a restaurant to make its mark, he has all the right ingredients.
Fluid London: The bar is swarming and has some busy barmen, furiously making endless cocktails and rushing about to try and maintain the thirsty press. I feel a bit sorry for them as there are about 40 people down here and only four barmen. I like that there are many bottles of Bombay Sapphire on display behind the bar. It makes me want to pinch one so that I can make my own drink, but I resist. My friend returns with two cocktails; The Red Fort (named after the restaurant upstairs) and the House Nectar. It took her about twenty minutes to get these colourful concoctions and I feel slightly guilty for demanding them, but not guilty enough to let her know. The pink coloured Red Fort is a bit unusual as it contains chillies, but thoroughly enjoyable nonetheless, whereas the House Nectar is essentially Um Bongo with alcohol… brilliant!
Juli B: With azure blue walls, gold silk-upholstered chairs, oriental rugs and italian tiling, there’s nothing understated about london’s latest lounge, Zenna. you might have to find your center elsewhere, like in the cocktails – coriander and lychee daiquiris – and the north indian fare. this may not be the place to go for feng shui realignment or soul searching, but the hera jhinga (spicy battered prawns) will certainly leave your stomach sated.
Square Meal: A tweaked kingfisher-blue interior, a more varied cocktail offering & a trio of canapé selections are the new deal at Zenna – formerly Akbar, the Red Fort’s cellar bar. The £20 tiffin brings five tasters of the restaurant’s well-executed Indian cooking: lamb kebab, spinach & fenugreek patties, spicy fish fillet, chilli-crumbed chicken & prawns in batter. To drink, apricot brandy & vodka chai tea martini hits the spot, or you can go long with ginto (a classic G&T ‘ice & a slice’ combo freshened up with mint). Prices won’t take your breath away, but Illiana – billed as ‘the world’s spiciest cocktail’ – might leave you gasping, its USP is just one drop of an essence so hot that the whole liquid infernal comes with its own ‘fire extinguisher’ (a siphon of gin, lemon & soda).
Eat Out Magazine: The bar’s drinks list reflects the Indian décor with a cocktail menu using cardamom, lemongrass, ginger and sweet spices among other ingredients. Highlights include coriander & lychee daiquiri with chairman’s reserve rum, fresh Lime, lychee juice and coriander leaves and a chai tea martini made with fresh chai, stolinaycha vodka and apricot brandy. The Lassi Menu, which will be available throughout the day as well as in the evening, is another feature of Zenna, and is the first ever lassi bar in London. Lassis are fresh yoghurt drinks enjoyed throughout India, and are served sweet with fruit or sugars, or savoury with salt or spices. The menu at Zenna includes a range of lassis blended to order from banana, coconut, mango ginger & lemongrass and even a superfruits option with blueberries, pomegranate, raspberry and acai. For those who like to detox / retox, all lassis can be blended as alcoholic versions on request.
View London: Underneath a chic Indian restaurant (The Red Fort), the basement bar has elements of Asian influence combined with a contemporary London look. Black and white pictures, delicate candles and floating flowers set an intimate mood. Azure blue walls, gleaming tiles and the sleek bar covered in silver discs add a modern twist to the otherwise basic bar, with a few carefully placed alcoves for seating. The refreshing variations of classics such as the coriander and lychee daiquiri or the pineapple and sage mojito smell divine and taste fresh with well-balanced sweet and sour flavours. However the star of the menu has to be the Iliana cocktail, dubbed as the world’s spiciest cocktail. It is spicy, really spicy, and is served with a gin fizz cooler. The bar food in Zenna is lots of delicious, well cooked meat kebabs, vegetables and fish dishes. The platter is a good sharing option, and all of the spices are intense and powerful, but they complement the cocktails well, particularly the chocolate orange martini which itself contains the kick of fresh chilli. If you like proper Indian cuisine, as well as exciting new cocktails, then Zenna effectively fuses the best of both to create a range of delectable cocktails in the heart of Soho.
Brummell Magazine: Situated below one of London’s few fine dining Indian restaurants, The Red Fort on Dean Street, Zenna incorporates Indian heat and spices into gourmet cocktails with infused spirits, fresh herbs and a secret recipe chilli potion. Chic and inviting, the bar benefits from a vaulted roof with discreet low-lit alcoves. The Red Fort kitchen provides a cooked-to-order bar menu, which means after-work drinks just got a whole lot more interesting. Stars of the cocktail menu include, at the mildest end of the spice spectrum, the Garden Martini, a refreshing mix of Bombay Sapphire gin, mint, lime and apple juice, and the lightly spiced Bee Sting, with honey vodka, peach purée and jalepeño peppers. For thrill seekers and masochists alike, there is the Illiana, enticingly titled the world’s spiciest cocktail. Drinkers are required to sign a waiver before ordering this fiery thirst-quencher, and it is thoughtfully accompanied by a Zenna fire extinguisher – a siphon containing gin, soda water and a twist of lemon. There are some reinvented classics on offer, too, including a pineapple and sage mojito, an Indian whisky sour (flavoured with cardamon) and the Gentleman’s Tipple, which is guaranteed to put hairs on your chest. If you’re looking for something with a little less punch, Zenna is also home to London’s first ever lassi bar, serving traditional fresh yogurt drinks flavoured with fruits, sugars and spices. Fat-free and probiotic, they are a virtuous choice – although less so if you opt for a shot of gin in yours.
London Eating: Zenna Bar is a chic Indian cocktail bar underneath The Red Fort on Dean Street in Soho. It’s an opulent space with azure blue walls, gold silk chairs and a bar entirely covered in shimmering metallic discs. The drinks list includes traditional lassis and Indian-inspired cocktails like the Illiana – a spicy tipple that comes with its own ‘Fire Extinguisher’ soda siphon. The Red Fort above will provide bar snacks like chicken tikka and crispy prawns.
Pink Paper: Zenna Bar is London’s premier, and perhaps only, Indian cocktail bar. The blue colour scheme, velvet stools and leather sofas give the whole setting a very nice feel. That said, perhaps this was done to enhance the Indian theme that pervades the menu. Featuring the world’s hottest cocktail, this is definitely a place for people who like it hot – particularly as drinkers must sign a waiver upon ordering. Likewise, the food – which is cooked to order – was light yet substantial, spiced and lean. Interestingly, the bar even has a Lassi Menu, which features fresh yoghurt drinks typically enjoyed throughout India. They’re meant to be great for those who like to detox, but fortunately alcohol versions are available. And if all else fails, there’s a dance-floor – and if the music is always as good as it was last night we can see Zenna being a big success.
Thrill List: Zenna is “London’s first Indian cocktail bar”, serving up exotic mixed beverages in a plush, low-lit space with velvety alcove seating, scattered Oriental rugs, and a shimmering metallic bar, but not a shimmering Metallica bar, because even bartenders don’t want to hear about that many problems. Spicy booze starts out relatively unintimidating with the Bee Sting Martini (honey vodka/liqueur, lemon, mild chilies & peach liqueur/puree), then gets more challenging with the apple/ orange/ strawberry/ almond syrup/ gin/ hot chili Red Fort, before moving in for the kill with the “world’s spiciest cocktail”, the Golden Dragon: rum, orange Curacao, almond syrup, lime, orange, and a single drop of secret chilli sauce, served with a gin & soda “fire extinguisher” — an alkie safety device often used on Bon (Scott) Fire Night. Less tongue-atomizing numbers leap from a whiskey sour made with Indian single-malt and cardamom, to the vodka & apricot brandy Chai Tea Martini, to a Punjabi-style Mango Lassi made with saffron gin, guaranteeing your girlfriend’ll be left to satisfy herself with an electrical banana. For non-liquid nourishment, there’s a trio of canape menus featuring the likes of Murgh tikka corn-fed chicken, Jhinga hariyala marinated king prawns w/ mint & coriander, and Devon lamb seekh kebabs — which, combined with all that alcohol, will ensure the only thing going nuclear is you.
Who’s Jack: Tucked beneath The Red Fort on Dean Street is a new hot cocktail bar called Zenna. A stylish, dimly lit bar with luxurious furnishings: so far, so standard. But this place has a couple of twists up its sleeve. Zenna is an Indian themed cocktail bar and has unique cocktail menu to reflect this, using spices such as cardamom, lemongrass and ginger. The flagship drink is a rather spectacular affair called the Illiana. Named after the mythological Indian golden dragon, it apparently holds the title of the ‘world’s hottest cocktail’. Zenna say the cocktail is so spicy that guests must sign a waiver on ordering, and it comes with its very own Fire Extinguisher accompaniment, a soda siphon containing ice cold Bombay Sapphire Gin, Lemon and Soda water. I didn’t get to try that one sadly, but I did experience another of their fiery cocktails called The Red Fort and I can confirm they are eye-watering! Zenna are also launching a Lassi menu, these are zero-fat probiotic yoghurt drinks and will be blended alcoholic or non-alcoholic as you desire. So the cocktails should be a draw but how was everything else? Well the bar food is absolutely delicious as they have access to Red Fort’s kitchens above and they are made to order. As far as music goes the launch has some pretty hilarious 90’s tracks playing which contributed to a great atmosphere. Zenna’s Dan Thomson was full of enthusiasm, and I hope to be back soon to take on some more of the spicy cocktails.
The Handbook: Descend a stairway lined with bronze water vessels filled with floating flowers and twinkling candles and prepare for a zenned out experience. We’re talking azure blue walls, plush blue velvet stools, silk-upholstered gold chairs, Italian tiles and Oriental rugs with a centrepiece bar entirely covered in shimmering metallic discs. An exotic cocktail list choc full of cardamom, lemongrass and ginger features the Coriander & Lychee Daquiri with Chairman’s Reserve Rum, fresh lime, lychee juice & coriander leaves; Chai Tea Martini made with fresh Stolichnaya Vodka & apricot brandy and Spiced Chocolate Orange Martini with cointreau, vodka & chocolate liqueur. Ever had a chilli eating competition? Well Zenna’s Illiana could be right up your street. Named after the mythological Indian golden dragon, it claims the title of world’s hottest cocktail and contains Chairman’s Reserve spiced rum, orange curacao, almond syrup, lime & orange juice a drop of the secret-ingredient chilli potion. It even comes with its own waiver form and Fire Extinguisher (gin & soda siphon) on the side.
Big Hospitality: The bar’s drinks list features a cocktail menu that uses ingredients such as cardamom, lemongrass, ginger and sweet spices. Highlights include coriander & lychee daquiri with chairman’s reserve rum, fresh Lime, lychee juice and coriander leaves and a chai tea martini made with fresh chai, stolinaycha vodka and apricot brandy. A Lassi menu will also be available at the new venue. Dan Thomson of Zenna, said: “We wanted to create a contemporary bar that was still true to its Indian heritage and provide a chic and welcoming space in the midst of Soho. “Zenna Bar is London’s first ever Indian cocktail bar and the carefully thought through flavours, recipes and ingredients used in the drinks list, as well as the authentic canapés make it a unique offering in the capital.”
London is Cool: London’s latest cocktail bar has a very cool entrance. The steps leading down to the bar are lined with bronze water vessels filled with floating flowers and candles. It was a good start. When I walk into a bar, first impressions are what counts and if I don’t like the vibe or the look of a place I will walk out, whether I’m paying for the drinks or not. And I can safely say that I was impressed with what greeted me. The subdued lighting, Italian tiled floor, exotic blue walls and layout of the bar with the different alcoves and areas make for a relaxed place to enjoy a few drinks. I wasn’t just there to admire the fixtures and fittings or the ambiance of the place, and if the cocktails weren’t going to cut it, it would all be rather pointless. However I’m glad to say that the Zenna cocktail menu, which is a mixture of classic cocktails with an Indian twist does cut the mustard, as the saying goes. I personally sampled the House Nectar, Garden Martini and The Red Fort cocktails, all of which were very tasty and full of flavour. I must admit I was a bit dubious about The Red Fort to begin with, which is the second spiciest cocktail on their list, but it grew on me so much that I had to have a second one. From what I have tasted so far Indian cocktails are definitely worth exploring. I also sampled some snacks and canapés which I can safely say were absolutely delicious. The food menu which has been created to compliment the drinks menu is cooked to order in the Red Fort Restaurant upstairs. I personally feel that Zenna Bar is a cool, laid back and very chic bar to head to for pre/after meal drinks, to take a hot date or for a few relaxed drinks before you hit a club. And as far as I’m aware there will be a DJ playing some tunes at the weekends. And to cap it all off Dan Thomson seems to be guy that knows how to run a good bar and that is something that is always good to see…
London Appetizer: Decorated with Italian tiles, soft leather and Oriental rugs, Zenna has a stylish and relaxed feel with a stunning bar entirely covered in shimmering metallic discs as the centrepiece. Low, warm lighting and discreet alcoves with exposed brickwork make it the perfect location for an intimate drink or any kind of event, being able to accommodate up to 120 people. Zenna’s drinks list reflects the exotic Indian décor with a unique cocktail menu using cardamom, lemongrass, ginger and sweet spices among other ingredients. Highlights include a refreshing Coriander & Lychee Daquiri with Chairman’s Reserve Rum, Fresh Lime, Lychee Juice and Coriander Leaves and a Chai Tea Martini made with fresh Chai, Stolinaycha Vodka and Apricot Brandy. The menu also features a unique Spiced Cocktail List, ranging from refreshing (the Mint, Lime, Apple and Elderflower Garden Martini) and lightly spiced (the Cointreau, Vodka and Chocolate Liqueur Spiced Chocolate Orange Martini) right through to incredibly spicy drinks. Only the very brave, however, need try the Illiana. Named after the mythological Indian golden dragon, it holds the title of the ‘world’s hottest cocktail’ and is a potent blend of Chairman’s Reserve Spiced Rum, Orange Curacao, Almond syrup, Lime and Orange juice with just one drop of the secret chilli potion. This cocktail is so spicy that guests must sign a waiver on ordering and it comes with its very own Fire Extinguisher accompaniment, a soda siphon containing ice cold Bombay Sapphire Gin, Lemon and Soda water to help guests fan the flames after drinking. The Lassi Menu, which will be available throughout the day as well as in the evening, is another unique feature of Zenna, and is the first ever lassi bar in London. Lassis are fresh yoghurt drinks enjoyed throughout India, and are served sweet with fruit or sugars, or savoury with salt or spices. Zero-fat and probiotic, they are a great fresh alternative to other smoothies and soft drinks. The menu at Zenna includes a range of lassis blended to order from Banana, Coconut, Mango Ginger & Lemongrass and even a Superfruits option with blueberries, pomegranate, raspberry and acai. For those who like to detox / retox, all lassis can be blended as alcoholic versions on request.
TNT Magazine: Zenna offers a truly unique selection of concoctions, many of which are inspired by Indian ingredients, fused with some of the highest quality booze, all put together with seriously impressive expertise. Whether you’re into sweet, sour or even spicy, you’ll find a tipple here. Bill please: Most of the cocktails are about £7. Verdict: If you’re interested in booze and have a taste for something a little bit different, then Zenna is an absolute must. Soho is a great area for late-nights drinks anyway, and this is a place you’ll find yourself coming back to regularly. Try it – you won’t be disappointed.
5/5 - Tom Sturrock
Itchy London: Zenna, the hot new, Indian themed cocktail bar on Dean Street in the heart of Soho has already gained itself a well deserved reputation for its interesting and exotic cocktails. The bar is tucked away down a candle-lined set of stairs on Dean Street and is sufficiently secreted away from the eyes of the tourists bustling through the busy drinking Mecca to provide a welcome respite from the area’s crowded pubs and bars. The cocktail menu, all dreamt up by cocktail guru Dan Thomson, is a wonder to behold. There is quite literally something for everyone from the sweet and way too moreish House Nectar – made using the bar’s secret recipe – to the Revitalise Caipirinhas concocted from detoxifying ingredients like Goji berries and aloe vera juice to ensure that you are detoxing whilst getting a little tipsy. Surely that makes the cocktail good for you, right? Not for the fainthearted is The Iliana, this cocktail is the world’s spiciest, and is served up with a handy little fire extinguisher on the side. The staff make you sign a waiver before you take your first sip and trust us, it’s totally necessary. Put any curry in front of us and we’lll tackle it head-on, but annoyingly The Iliana was something of a challenge. Be warned, this is not a gimmick – it’s seriously spicy. Other delights from the menu included the Coriander and Lychee Daiquiri, which was fresh, aromatic and delicious. This one will be our weapon of choice when we return to Zenna in the not too distant future. The Garden Martini – made from Bombay Sapphire, mint, lime, cucumber, elderflower and apple juice – was beautiful, and be sure to try one of their alcoholic lassis (especially if you have braved The Illiana). We would recommend the coconut or the mango variety. Both of which were delightful. As well as the impressive selection of cocktails, the bar is understated, intimate and provides a great little spot for an after work drink or for a more intimate date. No trip to Zenna would be complete without sampling the wonders of the Indian sharing platter – we feasted on tender, wonderfully marinated pieces of melt in your mouth chicken, fat and juicy prawns and balls of beautifully seasoned falafel. Just what you need to soak up those cocktails. -Amy Baker
Fluid London: Dan Thomson of Zenna Bar and skilled mixologist, seated Holly and I at the sleek looking bar. Other revelers happy – a mix of couples enjoying the dim lighting and secluded booths and men in suits enjoying spending the money they’d spent the last 9 hours earning – Dan started explaining Zenna’s unique cocktail menu. The cocktails – which Dan himself concocted – are all inspired by, and use, Indian ingredients. Masala Mojito, I hear you ask? Well no, thank God. The influences are subtler than that, aided by Dan’s travels through India and his exposure to the food, drink and people of the land. The menu reads like a journey too, each page has a feel, a theme, an aspect of a certain place or spice.
House Nectar – Zenna’s secret house recipe. Whatever the secret is, I want to know it.
Coriander and Lychee Daiquiri – Chairmans Reserve Rum, Lychee Juice, fresh lime and Coriander. Yes, we too were sceptical at first but the coriander is just an initial hint, to the nose more than the taste buds, it’s the Lychee that wins out and has the lasting taste.
Garden Martini – Bombay Sapphire Gin, mint, lime, apple, cucumber, Elderflower cordial and apple juice. Imagine drinking grass. Imagine drinking grass and enjoying it. That’s the Garden Martini.
Vita – Lemongrass infused Vodka, raspberry puree, Chambord, fresh lemon and Lychee juice with a dash of soda. Holly hardly spoke to me whilst drinking this. Lost to Vodka, it’s how many a sad family tale ends.
Bee Sting – Honey Vodka, Honey Liqueur, lemon juice, Jalepeno peppers, peach liqueur, white peach puree. Probably the best ‘spicy cocktail’ to try if you the type of person who orders a Korma. The sweetness of the honey conquers the heat of the Jalapeno’s but the combination is shockingly good.
Illiana (The Golden Dragon) – Billed as the worlds spiciest cocktail, I was made to sign a waiver form before drinking this cocktail which comes served with a fire extinguisher. On taking a sip of this man-killer made from Chairmans spiced rum, orange Curacao, Orgeat syrup, lime juice, orange juice, and a drop of secret spicy sauce, my throat constricted, my hands grasped the side of the bar, my eyes watered and my face flushed.
Banana Lassi (alcoholic, obviously) – fresh yoghurt blended with banana, banana syrup, Zubrowka Vodka and Creme de Banane. Smooth, creamy and refreshing, a saving treat Captain Banana himself would recommend to save the day and my burning mouth.
Tired of the standard, run-of-the-mill cocktail? Try Zenna Bar.
Cocktail Lovers: First Things First: The difference now is the powers that be have cleverly marketed it as London’s first Indian cocktail bar, run by Dan Thomson who’s upped the ante and created a stunning drinks list that everyone should try. It might be a small bar but Dan Thomson has big plans for Zenna. The Signature: The hottest cocktail in the world. There’s the House Nectar, a secret recipe which has been formulated to please 99% of palates (well, there’s always going to be that difficult 1%…) As this has been concocted for people who don’t know what to order on the menu, Ms S gives it a miss and opts for the Coriander & Lychee Martini (Chairman’s Reserve rum, lychee juice, fresh lime and coriander) instead. The first thing that hits is the green, crisp freshness of the coriander but then it dissipates, making room for some lychee sweetness, before reappearing again at the end to remind you just how good it is in a glass. It’s one of those drinks that actually tastes clever: everyone knows how overpowering coriander can be but here it plays nicely, allowing the other ingredients to get a chance to shine. The presentation is equally delightful with its cloudy green colour, frothy white head and simple coriander leaf garnish. The Classic: It’s not too surprising, given the Indian connection, that the recommendation from Dan for Mr G’s martini is Saffron Gin. Served in a very elegant glass, it has a fantastic colour (saffron obviously) and a large orange twist completes an elegant look. It has an appealing orange aroma and feels rounded in the mouth. There’s a refreshing tonic-like dryness up front, which then gives way to hints of sweetness and a suggestion of liquorice, before slipping into a gentle finish. An ideal pre-dinner martini for Indian dining.
TCL Choice: Although Ms S decides it would be rude not to try something from the spicy part of the menu, she doesn’t want to go too crazy on the chilli-action. So she opts for the Bee Sting (honey vodka, honey liqueur, lemon juice, jalepeno peppers, peach liqueur and white peach puree), which just stops short of the being mildest ‘spicy’ drink of the list. That said, there’s still a kick from the jalepeno but the honey vodka tempers the heat nicely. There is something about its name, Gentleman’s Tipple (Martell XO Cognac, The King’s Ginger Liqueur and dash of orange bitters) that Mr G finds hard to resist. But it turns out to be much more than just a cheeky handle. It’s a rocks drink served in a handsome retro glass with big cubes of ice and a large orange twist. It not only looks good, it tastes absolutely beautiful. Preceded with a subtle enough aroma the drink is packed with flavour and has an amazing depth – the more it’s sipped the more it delivers. A truly delicious cocktail and one that has something about it that feels like a real grown up drink.
And To Eat? As you’d expect, the bar menu features a tempting selection of Indian light bites, including pocha hera jingha (marinated prawns, £6), karara murgh (spicy chicken with curry leaf, £8) and murgh tikka (spicy corn-fed chicken from the tandoor, £8). If there are a few of you, go for the Zenna Platter at £20 with a selection of all the featured dishes.
What’s The Damage? £6-£10. The super-hot Illiana with its fire extinguisher is priced at £15.
Look Out For: The alcoholic lassis at lunchtime, also for tea totallers out there, all drinks on the menu can be made in non-alcoholic versions.
Ms S says: The dim lighting and candle action makes Zenna a good spot for dates, post-work drinks or pre-clubbing drinks. Book one of the alcoves if you’re in a crowd.
Mr G says: There’s plenty about the menu (including an element of seasonality) which certainly invites going back. And if you’re feeling brave try the Illiana (The Golden Dragon). Billed as the “World’s Spiciest Cocktail” it’s not just about heat it is actually quite tasty. But it is very, very hot.
Roll On Friday: The latest cocktail bar innovation – Zenna, the first Indian cocktail bar in London. The bar itself is comfortable den with pockets for snuggling encouraged by the romantic lighting. In short, it’s a fantastic place for impressing that date with a taste for something pricey and different. Actually, the spicy and fragrant bar snacks might not be conducive to snogging… even the drinks are savory at times. The range of cocktails are impressive in range and details – with non-alcoholic or premium spirit versions offered for every choice. We highly recommend the Garden Martini, which is very refreshing and respectable – it even contains a little elderflower cordial. It is at the other end of the spectrum of the terrifying ‘Illiana’ (aka The Golden Dragon) which proclaims itself the world’s spiciest cocktail – though it contains only ‘one drop of Secret Spicy Sauce’… it comes with a chaser to act as a fire extinguisher… oh and you have to sign a waiver form in order to drink it. Aside from the traditional cocktails (many of them infused with various spices for an Indian effect), you can get lassis – salty or sweet, alcoholic or not. A yoghurt based savoury cocktail? The world has changed – right before our very eyes.
Company Magazine: Indulge hidden hedonistic tendencies at Zenna — the new Indian cocktail bar in Soho. Dan Thomson has transformed the basement space into a low-lit after-hours den filled with plenty of alcoves, oriental rugs and bronzed statues. The subdued lighting, Italian tiled floor, exotic blue walls and layout of the bar with the different alcoves and areas make for a relaxed place to enjoy a few drinks. Spicy cocktails include an extra-hot Indian Bloody Mary, Bee Sting (honey vodka and jalapeno) and Illiana (spiced rum, orange and a hot sauce so deadly you have to sign a waiver). Company.co.uk recommends impressing your date by ordering from the lassi bar, with a variety of traditional yoghurt-based concoctions infused with alcohol and served with fruit or salt and spices. The food menu has been created to compliment the drinks menu is cooked to order in the Red Fort Restaurant upstairs.
GoUK: Zenna is a new Indian cocktail bar in Soho, filled with alcoves, oriental rugs, and bronzed statues, a lassi bar, plus spicy cocktails like the extra-hot Indian Bloody Mary, Bee Sting (honey, vodka and jalapeno) and the Illiana, which incorporates a hot sauce so hot those who drink it must first sign a waiver.
OK Magazine: WHEN we were asked to try the spiciest cocktail in the world it didn’t exactly sound like our cup of tea but OK! has never been one to turn down a challenge. So where would we be jetting off to test the beverage that would no doubt leave us feeling hot hot hot – the Caribbean? Mexico? Not quite but just as good as… Situated underneath the famous Red Fort Indian restaurant is the luxurious cocktail bar, which has just launched in the centre of London’s Soho. The perfect location for care-free spirits who are up for trying anything. And OK! fit the description perfectly. As we descended down the dimly-lit steps, we we’re greeted by a cloakroom attendant who whisked away our coats. It may be nippy outside but you won’t be needing those after you sip on this beverage, named the Illiana after a mythical Golden Dragon of India. The drink comes with a fire extinguisher (a refreshing Bombay Sapphire gin mixer), to put out the flames! And flames there were literally, as we watched Zenna’s Dan Thomson light up our glass. And despite him only adding half the usual measure of the secret ingredient (the hottest hot sauce in the world) to our glass, it was still a hefty measure for us ladies. Still the men further down the bar were slurping away on some much sweeter spiced drinks (and looking on curiously), so we considered ourselves the victors. After a few more tipples and a swift relocation to the soft leather chair situated in the booths, we head off into the night feeling energised. Just the zing we needed.