A first look inside 67 Pall Mall
67 Pall Mall is the private members' club in the St James district of central London dedicated to wine. Over five years in the making, it started hosting events in the downstairs function room in early October but it wasn't until this week that the main club was opened.
I joined in January 2014, when it was still a building site. The plans made it sound like the ultimate destination for wine drinkers - an extensive cellar, liberal corkage policy, expert staff - and the drawings for the designs looked great. Furthermore, the man in charge, Grant Ashton, clearly had a strong vision of what he wanted it to be.
Last night, nearly two years later, I saw the finished article. Head of wine Ronan Sayburn gave me a guided tour, so I took some photos. Front of house features one main room with a bar at its far end, which will serve 500 wines by the glass. It feels spacious but intimate, and the furnishings and fittings are all exquisitely done.
The above photograph was taken from the mezzanine area, which has a well-curated library and a number of easy chairs.
Wine is front and centre throughout 67 Pall Mall, as you would expect. To the left of the bar is a tasting room with a high, white marble table, surrounded by glass wine display cabinets which are already stocked with some extraordinary wines.
I was invited to see behind the scenes too. This kind of openness bodes well for an operation, showing self-confidence and honesty.
Members are allowed to store 36 bottles of wine on site, which they can drink for a flat £20 corkage fee at any time. The pricing policy for the wine list is to apply only very modest markups of either 20% or 40%, meaning that they will be selling some very sought after wines at (comparatively) very low prices.
It made a brilliant first impression. The staff are smart, friendly and well informed, the atmosphere is relaxed, and the management team bring experience from some of London's best restaurants and hotels. It looks set to become one of the city's essential new wine destinations - and quite rightly.