It soft launched last week (with only the top floor opening) but this week sees the full launch of a new cocktail and dim sum bar right in the heart of Chinatown. Set over three floors of a town house, it'll be serving a mix of cocktails, wine, and even tea - with a range of dim sum to accompany the drinks (and some "Chinese temperance cocktails" if you fancy laying off the booze). You'll be encouraged to match dim sum with bespoke cocktails and they're even pairing up with guest chefs for special creations. The first of these will be the Legend of St John which will be St John's take on the Siu long bao.
We caught up with Opium to find out more.
You're opening behind an unmarked door in Chinatown - can you tell us how to find you?
Look out for the jade door at no 15-16 Gerrard Street - when the amber light is on you can head upwards into our townhouse-opium-den...
How would you describe Opium Cocktail & Dim Sum Parlour?
Behind the mysterious jade door, you'll discover a world of Oriental eclecticism which brings the unique flavour of Chinatown inside, and blends it with london cocktail culture. Unlike anywhere else in this vibrant neighbourhood, authentic dim sum is given a modern, fine-dining twist and paired with amazing cocktails courtesy of world-acclaimed mixologist Dre Masso.
You'll find Dre in his attic Academy, where you can get close to the theatre of drink making in this open-kitchen style bar and even take a master-class or two to hone your own skills. The Chinese apothecary bar is the perfect place to sample some chi-enhancing herbs amongst the classic cocktails and premium spirits list. And there are plenty of cosy, amber-lit dining-dens for grazing at lunchtime or long into the evening; sharing dishes like luxurious lobster poppy seed toast or guest dim sum by St John. With opium-esque interior over 3 floors, by the award-winning Office Sian and Kai design, historical aspects of the building are showcased alongside classic oriental furnishings and modern plays on perspective.
What kind of food can we expect?
Authentic dim-sum with a luxurious, modern twist - such as pork & scallop taro pastries (woo kok), sesame and poppy lobster-prawn toast, pork buns (char siu Bau), mushroom and truffle dumplings and lots more (including Chinese egg custard tarts for dessert). There will be a sharing platter on offer too.
What's unique to Opium is not just the combination of dim-sum with amazing cocktails (right here in Chinatown) but the cross-over of ingredients between the menus. Dre has created specific flavour pairings so that diners get a taste experience vaster and richer than the sum of its parts.
And can you give us some examples of the cocktails?
Our 2nd floor bar is 'The Chinese Apothecary' and some of the cocktails have 'medicinal' or chi-enhancing ingredients - such as the 'smoking' cocktail Opium number 1, which includes a ginseng shot. We are using local produce - herbs and ingredients sourced locally in Chinatown.
Dre first visited China 10 year go and became fascinated by oriental flavours so you'll see these fusing with premium spirits in Opium's 'Crafted serves', for example the Laughing Buddha which combines Bombay Sapphire Gin with triple sec, Kumquats, Blood Orange, citrus bitters, our Chinese many-spice syrup and orange blossom (served long).
Also Esther Medina-Cuesta, our assistant GM, is well-known for combining vegetables into cocktails. You'll see this influence in drinks such as the Kung Fu Fizz, made with parsnip puree and champagne. There is still plenty for lovers of the classics such as the Negroni, White Lady and Margarita. And a wide wine and champagne list.
Opium Cocktail & Dim Sum Parlour is open at 15 – 16 Gerrard Street from 5pm every day (except Sunday when it opens at 2pm and closes at 10.30pm) until midnight on Monday and Tuesday, 1am on Wednesday, 2am on Thursday and 3am on Friday and Saturday. You can follow them on twitter at @opiumchinatown