Words: Jemima Wilson
Chelsea’s Nam Long Le Shaker made a name for itself in the 1990s as the regular haunt of an infamous group of City traders dubbed the ‘Flaming Ferrari Boys’, after their favourite Nam Long cocktail. A lethal concoction of navy rum, green chartreuse, Grand Marnier and a blue curaçao chaser set on fire and drunk quickly through a straw, a Flaming Ferrari cocktail is quite the spectacle, and you don’t need more than one or two to feel its full effect.
The Flaming Ferrari Boys’ success in the City was short-lived, but the infamous cocktail has been on Nam Long’s menu for more than 28 years. And it’s not only the Vietnamese restaurant and bar’s inventive cocktails that have continued to attract a discerning clientele over the decades – late owner Thai Dang was known to regulars as a local hero, and, although he famously denied entry to both Prince William and Mick Jagger, there has been no shortage of stars frequenting the decadent nightspot since it was founded in 1987.
Now managed by Thai’s daughter Dzuyen, Nam Long has started a new chapter in its colourful history, with the introduction of a reinvented Pan-Asian-inspired food menu in the restaurant and the launch of The Opium Den, an elegant cocktail lounge in the basement.
The restaurant has a relaxed feel, and you are encouraged to eat as you would at home. The carefully selected small and large plates, dim sum and salads are ideal for sharing, and are infused with fragrant Eastern flavours to leave you feeling comfortably satisfied but not too full.
Once you’ve had a little taste of everything in the restaurant, there is only one way to head – down the bespoke wrought-iron staircase to The Opium Den, where the atmosphere gets livelier and the cocktails stronger. Designed by Boxer & Brown, the opulent interior features an impressive mosaicked bar where you can try new additions to the cocktail menu, including the Mr Thai, created in honour of Nam Long’s founder and consisting of rye whiskey, truffle honey and grapefruit bitters, and the Bardot, a smooth, lychee liqueur-based drink with gin, a dash of Cherry Heering and rose water.
Or order the Flaming Ferrari, if you dare.