Mastering the art of cocktails

There are people in life that you will always remember.
People you meet for the first time and who you may not have the chance to see again but who will stay in your mind forever. People who will turn an easy-going evening into a once in a lifetime experience. People who, within a few hours, will teach you more than you have ever dared learn, just by listening to their passion and knowledge.
While enjoying this priceless experience, you suddenly feel like a child being given a lesson in humility and modesty. And, secretly, you dream of feeling that same passion for life when the alarm clock rings in the morning.

But first, Rules. Trying to move with the times while reflecting is weighty history, Rules , the oldest restaurant in London, is still rife with a charming English atmosphere reminiscent of a fine Parisian bistro; waiters dressed in bow ties and armed with a ‘sans-faute’ service.

Rules collage

The grouse confirms its success day after day among customers who have come to enjoy its delicate taste for more than a hundred years. Since 1798, though, some creative touches have crept into the menu, including the tasty Dressed Dorset Crab. And, as the way to celebrate the national how-how of making pudding, the Sticky Toffee Pudding with Butterscotch Sauce will definitely reconcile you with traditional English cuisine.

And now, let’s step Upstairs at Rules. A year ago, when Rules reconverted their first floor into a bar, giving justice back to what it had been during the war, they couldn’t have made a better choice than hiring one of the most recognised bartenders that long and short drinks have ever encountered.
Rules Bottles

Mastering the art of cocktails may seem as easy as mixing the right measure of liquors in the right order and shake for the appropriate length of time… just like cooking is all about mixing ingredients in the right order and cooking to taste.  The perfect cocktail is about respect, about love and the passion you pour into every drink you make. And this is something that the Cocktail master Upstairs at Rules has understood to the very core.

Thirty years after having served his father his first cocktail, Brian Silva, bartender extraordinaire at Rules, has become a master of understanding his customers’ expectations, be it to create their preferred pre-dinner drink like they’ve never had it before or think up the relaxing potion which will put the finishing touch on an  exquisite dinner at the restaurant downstairs.

With a menu of only 10 specials but more than a thousand recipes in mind (and 200 written in his little black book), when Brian Silva looks at you and pops the question,‘What are you in the mood for?’ you know the experience is going to be worthwhile. Put the menu away, don’t give a second’s thought to what you thought you were going to drink; let yourself be lead by the master’s flair and know-how. A last check if the drink should be rather short, long, sweet or bitter and the whole creation process starts.
Cocktail collage

Among his alchemist’s laboratory of first-choice liqueurs, Brian is a flurry of activity, only slowing as he pours each measure by eye over the perfectly 2-by-2-by-3 icecubes.  For a moment, you’re sure he would be just as quick – although no less impressive – if he was blindfolded.

For me, the hit of the evening is to see the smile on my customer’s face when they take their first sip’.

So what does Master Silva think of the infamous classic, Rosebud’s OBI Long Island Iced Tea? “Equal measures of all the spirits and around 25ml or less of lemon juice. The spirits don’t have to be a 25ml measure they can and probably should be less, say around 15ml of each. The cocktail should be tasted first and then balanced with coca-cola to offset the lemon. Lots of ice please!

Thank you dear Brian for this unforgettable evening, we will always remember it.

Long Island – One person
In a mixer:
1.5 cl (three parts) Vodka
1.5 cl (three parts) Tequila
1.5 cl (three parts) White Rum
1.5 cl (three parts) Triple Sec
1.5 cl (three parts) Gin
2.5 cl (five parts) Lemon juice

Add 3.0 cl (six parts) Coca-Cola or to taste

35 Maiden Lane,
Covent Garden,
0207 836 5314

Rules on Urbanspoon


14 thoughts on “Mastering the art of cocktails

  1. Pingback: Twitter Trackbacks for Mastering the art of cocktail « Mathilde’s Cuisine [] on

  2. Great write-up Mathilde, I will definitely have to go for a drink at Rules soon, and maybe give the food a second chance after nearly 10 years!

  3. Mathilde, Great post! Thanks for introducing me to to Brian the other week. I am impressed beyone belief with the cocktail bar at Rules, Brians drinks and the incredibly genial laidback atmosphere. I was there last night, pre-Koffman and the staff could not be friendlier and more engaging – offering – nibbles, canapes and potted rabbit with toasts out for free as we sat and relaxed. Absolutely. Love it.

    • My pleasure! Brian is such a great guy and his know-how about cocktails is impressive. I have never found a place like Rules when the minute you step in, you feel relaxed, as if the outside world didn’t exist anymore.

  4. Wonderful article. Mixing cocktails, just as cooking or baking, really is an art. Love when you can put away the menu, give an emotion or feeling and have a drink to suit it perfectly. Not its cocktail time 🙂

  5. Pingback: Au revoir London « Mathilde’s Cuisine

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