The summer has seen a new, and very tropical kind of immersive dining appearing in London.
The brainchild of Havana Club rum, the sobremesa takes its cue from the relaxed, after-dinner socialising that is common throughout Cuba, and has been steering Londoners away from the usual routine of ‘wolf down dinner then return to your phone’ in favour of something a little more luxurious, undisturbed, drawn-out and civilised.
The latest series of dinners were hosted in the Clerkenwell Cooperage, a RIBA award-winning private conversion in a well-hidden mews, complete with cavernously high ceilings, concrete floors and a retractable glass roof, supplied by One Fine Stay. For each dinner, Havana Club arranged a different guest to lead the conversation around a different aspect of Cuban culture: Literary Salon leader and award-winning author Damian Barr talked Hemingway and books; producer Rosa Bosch detailed her life in Cuban films; and the Courtauld Institute’s Jasmine Chohan spoke about the state of Cuban contemporary art. Between each course (specially prepared by chef Marcus Bean), guests were guided through Havana Club’s finest rums – the extremely limited edition and aged Tributo and Maximo (just 2500 and 1000 bottles each year respectively) – and instructed in the Cuban habit of slowly savouring the drink.
Overall, the Sobremesa sits somewhere between the after-dinner speech and the private dinner party, a new way of creating a cultural scene in a beautiful space. And while London’s weather may have let us down and ensured that the venue’s roof stayed closed throughout the Sobremesa, Havana Club’s rum ensured that the spirit of Cuban luxury was fully present.