Review: Berts Jazz Bar takeover at St James Bar, London

Berts Jazz Bar takeover at St James Bar London
Tim Firmager
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St James Bar in London this week hosted a take-over by Berts Jazz Bar, from the Merchant Hotel Belfast, in partnership with the Northern-Irish Boatyard Distillery. We at Vada popped into one of our favourite pre-dinner cocktail bars to sample the delicious cocktails from the Irish barmen.

Berts Jazz Bar takeover

Berts is the only bar of its kind in Belfast, with live jazz music performed every night, this Art Deco style cocktail bar has become a must-visit destination in city. The team of barmen bring their 1930s flair alive with a selection of classic cocktails.

Found inside the Sofitel St James hotel, the St James Bar is renowned for its annually refreshed cocktail menu (we have previously reviewed their previous Passport menu and current Imagination menu, available until late summer). The St James Bar, under the careful management of Kostas Bardas, is perfectly located for an intimate cocktail before a romantic dinner.

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The cocktails

The Berts Bar team, partnered with The Boatyard Distillery, brought us 4 cocktails during the take-over:

  • Martinez (£15) – made with Boatyard Old Tom gin, sweet vermouth, Maraschino and dry curaçao (the orange liqueur). The blend of flavours make for a rich, balanced and smooth cocktail, perfectly moreish (and our favourite!) but we recommend no more than 2 or risk a sore head the next day.
  • One and Only (£15) – made with Boatyard Double Gin, lemon, double cream, vanilla syrup and gomme syrup. Surprisingly the double cream does not overpower the drink, which remains creamy yet light. Though a word of warning, do not take more than about 30 minutes to drink this, otherwise you risk witnessing the drink split. The barmen work wonders at blending it together in the first place.
  • French 75 (£17) – The version of this classic is made with Boatyard Sloe Boat gin, Maraschino, creme d’apricot, lemon and topped up with champagne. Much richer and fruitier than the original recipe, this blend maintains an elegant choice for an aperitif.
  • Joan Collins (£16) – Unlike the gin-based John Collins, the Joan Collins is made with Boatyard vodka, dry vermouth, basil, pear, lemon, verjus, and topped up with soda water. This tall cocktail is light, refreshing and summons up images of drinking on the Amalfi coast on a summer afternoon.

Overall thoughts

The takeover showcased the talents of Berts Jazz Bar, which we would recommend our readers to visit on their next trip to Belfast – watch this space for a review in the near future. With St James Bar team staff at the helm, the familiar comfort and service remained, alongside beautifully blended cocktails.

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For readers who have not yet visited St. James Bar for an aperitif before dinner, their cocktail menu and hospitality never disappoints.

St James Bar is located 6 Waterloo Place, London, SW1Y 4AN

For more information about St James Bar visit and more information on Berts Jazz Bar is available at

About Tim Firmager

Tim divides his time being a Digital Consultant in The City and as a food and travel writer across the globe. When he's not working as one of the Lifestyle Editors here at Vada, he's planning his next trip, or on the lookout for the latest food crazes or unusual foods in London's markets.