Bar Review: Jewel Covent Garden

Obviously an awful lot of my 'What I Did' blogs will be about new places I've visited and new experiences I've had, but occasionally I'm going to throw a review of an old favourite into the mix. Jewel is definitely the latter. It's a cocktail bar on Maiden Lane in Covent Garden which rapidly became the place for me and my friends to head to when in need of a post-work drink or a Friday night celebration, not least because for some reason my boyfriend seems to get a free round of drinks from them every other week, which was the reason for my latest visit.

Upon entering Jewel, it looks like a pretty typical cocktail bar - dark woods, dim lighting, black marble bar, lots of classical-style statutes and mirrors in ornate gilt frames. However, there is one major difference: it doesn't look as busy as a cocktail bar in the West End should right after work. This is a street full of bars and restaurants and whilst the places next door and over the road seem to be constantly packed, Jewel is more often than not likely to be all but empty. But in that regard, it lives up to its name as a little undiscovered gem, as I'll go on to explain.

The cocktail menu includes around 80 cocktails, ranging from classic martinis to contemporary cocktails to creations unique to the bar, as well as a seasonal specials menu which gets updated every few months or so. I've never had a bad cocktail in Jewel so picking a favourite is really difficult, but if I had to choose one it would probably be the hibiscus bellini - hibiscus syrup mixed with Prosecco. The only thing I will say is that the degree of detail that goes into your cocktail will depend entirely on who is making it for you; for example, with some of the champagne cocktails, you'll just get the stuff mixed in the glass rather than shaken together, and it really is luck of the draw depending on the bar staff. They're still normally pretty good, but just not quite as good as they can be if they're made properly. So my tip is that once you find the person behind the bar who knows how to make the cocktail as it's described, stick with them all night as much as possible. And, which admittedly is partly down to a lack of space for a coffee machine, the menu would be vastly improved by the addition of an espresso martini.

Jewel has a fairly extensive happy hour, running from 5 PM to 7.30 (5 to 7 in December and January), where all cocktails are £4.50 (apart from the champagne cocktails which are £5 each), as well as discounts on beer, wine, food platters - a fairly standard mix of chicken wings, garlic bread, mini pizzas etc - and champagne. Outside of happy hour, they're fairly standard central London prices at about £7-8 a cocktail. Its staff are also very good about accommodating parties of varying sizes (including getting on the guest list afterwards, although once you're in that make sure you specify cocktails as part of the free round as sometimes they can be fussy if you don't) and you can get the same happy hour deals as you would otherwise.

The Covent Garden branch is one of three dotted around the city, and you check them all out on the website.

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