The effervescent golden bar. The Berkeley Square location. The name. There are many reasons someone might have certain preconceptions about what's in store at Sexy Fish, the Asian-inspired fusion food den in Mayfair. But to leap to these assumptions would be to miss much of what makes Sexy Fish such an undeniably good venue – not least, its gleaming and expansive bar.
The face behind it is Frenchman Xavier Landais, who heads-up all the bar offerings at the Caprice Holdings group, which also owns The Ivy, Scott's, J Sheekey and several others to have achieved London restaurant royalty status. He specialises in finding innovative trade routes to get some of the world's rarest Japanese whiskies behind Sexy Fish's bar (almost 350 at the last count) and has turned a deft touch to the drinks list here.
The concept – and, like with many cocktail menus, there is one – is whetting not just the appetite, but all of the senses. That's clear in the Soupe du Jour, a caramel-lush manhattan with Nikka whisky, Amer Picon and Italicus aperitifs and homemade syrups. Try it and it's simply a sweet whisky cocktail; but bite half of the Szechuan blossom, which spreads warming heat deliciously from the front to the back of the palate, and breathe in the umami aroma of the nori seaweed atop its ice cube, and you'll get a taste – quite literally – of how plays in flavour are intended to develop.
The drinks list is full of eclectic serves like these, ranging from short and sweet to long, sparkling and bitter, with some using savoury seafood ingredients in inventive ways. The menu itself is also available to buy, with accessible (if ambitious) recipes to make the cocktails at home, perfect-bound in beautiful and slim turquoise covers. It is, of course, full of high-fashion-looking photos inspired by the drinks. Well, we are in Mayfair, after all…
Berkeley Square House, W1J 6BR; sexyfish.com