In a promising sign for London’s post-pandemic bar scene, the Inception Group — best known for the Cahoots and Bunga Bunga bars — have just opened their first bar opening in four years, and it’s their most upmarket venue to date.
Inception founders Charlie Gilkes and Duncan Stirling opened Mr Fogg’s Apothecary today on Brook Street in Mayfair. It sits opposite Claridge’s Hotel and, perhaps to live up to its famous neighbour, is somewhat grander than any of its Mr Fogg’s siblings across town, which includes a Fogg’s pub in Covent Garden and the original Fogg’s bar on Bruton Lane.
While the new spot still nods to Phileas Fogg — the somewhat haphazard, aristocratic adventurer of Jules Verne’s Around the World in Eighty Days — pictures show that theme has been done somewhat more subtly, though there are still a number of antiquities from Victorian chemists and portraits of Fogg’s fictional scientific colleagues dotted about the place. Otherwise, the rooms look largely like a grand Mayfair townhouse might be expected to.
“This new opening is our most refined venue to date and is designed to have all the comforts of a members’ club without the need for people to buy a membership,” Gilkes told the Standard. “This feels like a truly momentous moment for us. There were times during the Covid pandemic where the future of our business felt very uncertain, so it’s amazing to be in growth mode again, and adding the first Mr Fogg’s to the collection for four years feels incredible.”
The menu will lean more into Fogg than the decor, with a cocktail list of “potions and elixirs”, made from plants, powders, saps and herbs, including the likes of oak bark, prickly pear and gentian. Cocktails will also be poured using Victorian weighing scales, to add to the sense of an old-world pharmacy measuring out its medicine. You might then, call these liquid cures.
“ We’re really excited to have imagined Fogg’s very own apothecary with tonics and remedies collected from his travels around the world. We have had a lot of fun sourcing all sorts of artefacts and antiquities from Victorian apothecary’s as well as researching recipes and vessels to inspire our cocktail menu,” Gilkes said of the menu. “There’s been a substantial increase in the demand for cocktails and tequila feels like the big growth category at the moment, and there’s also a ballooning appetite for people to have more of an ‘experience’ with their night out. These are both trends we feel well-placed to cater for at Mr Fogg’s.”
Besides the main bar area sits an “Elixir Room”, which has its own entrance and features 24 Hennessy cabinets, and three booths for groups to drink in.
Gilkes added that while many bar and restaurant operators were still facing a difficult future, he and Stirling felt optimistic for the future of London’s hospitality. “There are of course lots of headwinds at the moment, with severe inflation and a cost of living crisis,” Gilkes said. “Recruitment post Brexit is also incredibly difficult with a very challenging level of job vacancies — but having survived Covid, nothing feels like it can be as impossible to overcome.
“It’s been great to see new bars and restaurants opening and places busy again, and it’s great seeing central London coming back to life with tourists, theatregoers and office workers returning. We can’t wait to welcome them through our doors.”
The bar will open from Tuesday to Saturday, 4pm to midnight.
Mr Fogg’s Apothecary is open now at 34 Brook Street, W1. For more information, visit mr-foggs.com