Everyone in the wine trade loves Sherry, but customers just don't get it. Hakkasan lists 5 Sherries, and I'm sure the only time we open a bottle is for training. However, March saw the opening of London's first dedicated Sherry bar.
Bar Pepito is an offshoot of Richard Bigg's Camino in King's Cross. It's a tiny, brick-walled room, full of atmosphere with bins of Sherry across one end, high stools clustered round barrel-tops, and a simple menu of tapas. I went on 'soft-opening' night and loved it. We had a plate of delicious jamon and a glass or 3 of Apostoles Palo Cortado, no wait a minute, it was Tio Pepe. Or was it Fernando de Castilla? Anyway, Bar Pepito is brilliant.
Richard certainly knows what he's doing, so I assumed his Sherry sales at Camino must be so good he needed a Sherry bar to cope with demand. Well, actually, no. Richard admits that Sherry's a very tough sell, even for a thoroughly Spanish joint like Camino. But he loves Sherry, and hopes Bar Pepito will encourage people to experiment. With plenty of Sherries by the glass that should be possible.
It made me reconsider what we do at Hakkasan, and I think 'by-glass' is our next move. Sherry is so good with the food at Hakkasan, but if it's a hard sell at Camino, tempting customers to try it with Chinese cuisine will be like climbing Everest!