Raising a Rose Petal Martini to JJ and James
THERE were two particularly entertaining contestants who took part in The Restaurant, the series I made for the BBC2 way back in 2009.
I must say that I was scared to see the level of ineptitude and sublime incompetence among the nine couples - but I had to choose a winner. Among them were JJ Goodman and James Hopkins, who were competing together for the prize of opening a restaurant with me. They were unnerving. JJ kept winking at me, while James flicked his golden mane in my direction.
Feeling utterly depressed, I looked through the contestants’ CVs and that is when I saw that JJ was indeed a brilliant mixologist. Voilà! I had my winners.
However, instead of opening a restaurant we opened a cocktail bar - the London Cocktail Club, in Goodge Street. I was a director, along with Sarah Willingham and David Moore, my fellow judges on The Restaurant.
Triumph and success have followed, as well as the opening of another LCC in Shaftesbury Avenue.
Alas, I cannot take the credit. The back-patting goes deservedly to JJ and James, who are not only are young and cool but are also solid businessmen. We have become extremely good friends.
We had a board meeting last week – it finished late. That’s pretty common. In fact, I must confess the board meetings are frequently colourful events and involve the opening of a few bottles of wine, and tasting the new cocktails.
But apart from the business of our partying, these two dynamic men have created the best cocktail bars in town, where you can enjoy the most wonderful drinks in the most extraordinary setting and warm ambience. My favourite? It is the Rose Petal Martini – one or maybe two and I am in heaven.
I keep telling JJ and James, ‘I love you to bits.’ And I would happily adopt them. Sarah would do the same.
It gets better. JJ has stopped winking at me and James no longer flicks his mane as he has little hair on his head.
The London Cocktail Clubs are at 61, Goodge Street, London, W1T 1TL and 224, Shaftesbury Avenue, London WC2H 8EB (tel: 0207 580 1960).
Keep up with JJ on twitter @JJamesGoodman