67 Pall Mall
67 Pall Mall, SW1Y 5ES
WLC Rank : 1
Glass from : £ 7.00 (125 ml)
BEST FORVast and inquisitive by-the-glass wine selection
The highly motivated and consistent sommelier team
Standout masterclasses open to members and the public, online and in-person
A vibrant programme of wine events, huge vinous reserves and very active membership make 67 Pall Mall something of an embassy of wine.
Former city trader Grant Ashton is the visionary who, in the words of the famous NatWest ad, “turned a bank into a trendy wine bar”, albeit on a mighty scale. The CEO of 67 describes the public areas of the former Hambros bank replete with original safe and Austrian oak panelling, as “an iceberg where members see three-eighths of the operation”. Even on a quiet day “there will be 60 staff working here”.
With head of wine and Master Sommelier Ronan Sayburn, Ashton opened the club in stages from 2015. Together, they oversee 17 full-time sommeliers plying a core list of a whopping 6,000 lines from 42 countries, with 800 by-the-glass offerings, care of the Coravin, plus extensive members’ reserves kept on-site and at a second chamber close to Fortnum & Mason. Members, including Peter Charles Percival Hambros, “who sits where his desk used to be when it was the bank”, predominantly stockpile wines from Bordeaux, Burgundy, Tuscany and Piedmont, although Sayburn enjoys consistently veering down paths less travelled, hence events such as the Lebanese night, natural wines walk-around, and [David] Bowie & Burgundy – “the first wine-and-music monograph ever performed in celebration of the start of Burgundy week,” says Ashton.
Far from stiff, the club also hosts a jazz programme, and fortnightly Sunday lunches where members’ youngsters are entertained by the “animal man”, while their parents take the pleasure of wine seriously. “The average age of members went down half a year last year to 46.5,” notes Ashton. Other efforts to bring the median age down included the “BYOB young producers dinner for under-35 members” replete with post-tasting DJ, and a “reasonably priced trip to Bordeaux” for the same demographic. More conventional masterclasses, open to members and the public, include D’Oliveira Madeira back to 1908, and, held with regularity, “the Barolo Boys”, with truffle arancini.
Devised by Sayburn and head chef Marcus Verberne (ex- Le Caprice and Roast), food matches may include: “the pleasant, warm and balanced” Nascetta di Novello Anas Cetta Elvio Cogno with beetroot and goat’s cheese tortelloni and golden beetroot and horseradish purée; herb-and-juniper-roasted fillet of fallow deer “from the estate of a great friend and member of the club”, with bashed neeps and haggis, with Saint-Joseph (Tildé, Pierre Jean Villa), “which has ample fruit and a delightful, spicy complexity”.
Designed for “vin-curious” novice cooks and chefs alike, Sayburn’s new 177-page book, Wine and Food, offers a study of the world’s arguably greatest wines, with 100 sumptuous recipes taking in ‘sea and river’, ‘land and garden’ and ‘sweet’.
Rather than “sit here and pickle myself for 10 years”, Ashton made the “conscious decision” to establish more clubs globally, backed by investors in local markets but with reciprocal membership. In gestation for two years, 67 Pall Mall is working on its first overseas branch in Singapore, spanning floors 27 and 28 of the Shore Centre, complete with 113-metre sky-high terraces, spirits suites and, accessed by an internal lift, a “wibbly-wobbly wine tower” in the seven-metre-high club room. “There are as many wine distributors there as in the UK, and duty at £6 plus 7% goods and service tax isn’t as punishing as one might have thought.” Émigré Richard Hemming is one of three consulting Masters of Wine. However, given the tropical climate in Singapore, members will not be required to wear jackets.
During the lockdown, 67’s team were fully retained “hamsters in a wheel” while the Club hosted more than 500 virtual tastings available for existing members and newly-registered virtual members. Expect such digital initiatives to mushroom at the club.
By Douglas Blyde.