The Royal Cocktail Exchange

The owners of Cocktail Trading Co and Murder Inc, Elliot Ball, Andy Mil and Olly Brading, have opened the doors to The Royal Cocktail Exchange near Goodge Street in London. 

Unveiled to industry friends on Monday, the three-level former Bao site is now open to the public.

Joining the trio of owners is Sam Boevey as GM and Rory Sorrell as head bartender, who will together manage the bar and lead drinks creation. 

Situated on 31 Windmill Street, The Royal Cocktail Exchange is a glass-fronted, light and airy ground-floor bar, with capacity for 40, which is sandwiched by a 50-cover basement bar that is nearing completion and a first-floor prep space which will also be used to expand the company's cocktail masterclass business. 

Ball told CLASS: "The bar is light and breezy on the ground floor and dark and sexy downstairs. It's the first time we've really invested in the aesthetic of our bars - a lot of what we've done in the past has been charmingly rough and ready. 

Mil added: "We wanted the design of the venue to follow the journey of alcohol through time. The ground floor reflects the physical journey, the materials and finishes being those used historically in the transportation and storage of liquor - cork panels, terracotta tiles, slate veneer and natural weave.

"The lower ground is more about the journey of what’s inside the bottles as opposed - alligator char cladding, botanical colours and textures inspired by herbs - all under good, timeless candlelight."

The main menu - which will see the bar team reimagine classic cocktails through a critical lens - is a few months from launch.

Ball added: "The main menu will see us sit down and taste classics like people do with wine. So many classics are weird and unfinished when you really evaluate them as if they were new - it’s as if we ‘have’ them, rather than ‘drink’ them.

"Beloved cases in point - the Negroni is wildly unbalanced, the Old Fashioned has a lot of sweetness with no acidity to balance (though salt helps), the Manhattan is typically too thin on the mid-palate. So, we asked ourselves what we would do if we were trying to improve them, while still being recognisable.

"For example, the house Margarita will see us use what is essentially our own mixto - a blend of tequila and high-proof rum - as it just undeniably makes a better Marg. So half of the menu will be these classics and half of the menu will be more similar to the seven cocktails we're launching with, which are much more outrageous, bastardised interpretations of classics."

Among the drinks on the launch menu is the Bell Pepper Daisy (Volcan Blanco Tequila, ancho lychee, toasted apple, bell pepper agave), the Mango Lassi Flip (Hennessy VS, Jägermeister Manifest, spiced mango, cream, egg yolk) and the Dry-aged Manhattan (Whistlepig Piggyback Rye, Cacao husk vermouth, yellow mustard miso).