Pre-dinner drinks at the dignified old skool Beverley Hills Hotel is far less nouveau-riche than the feverishly popular Monte-Carlo-esque Oyster Box with their vagina-red bar. Stepping into The Oyster Box you feel like you’ve stepped onto the original set of Dynasty. You expect Sue Ellen to appear from behind a Doric column with crystal tumbler of whiskey as JR swaggers in with his Texan cowboy hat to order a bottle of Dom to celebrate his latest cracking oil deal. At The Bev I spotted a Salman Rushdie look-a-like on a caramel wing-back chair enjoying a bottle of The Gypsy, Ken Forrester’s Grenache Noir and Shiraz blend.
You can even sashay down their dramatiese Gone with the Wind staircase with a glass of Gamay Noir, Klein Zalze in hand. I valiantly attempted, announcing: “Frankly, some of this decor has to go! But the glam Hockney pool, now that, can stay!”
But what I most like about The Bev is that they always have a violinist playing, whether it is the melancholy Don’t Cry For Me Argentina which goes down rather well with a glass of Cab Sauv, Slowine 2009 from Overberg or gentle head bopping in a grey leather couch to Wasis Diop with a fine bottle of their Beaujolais, Louis Jadot Moulin A Vent Clos Chateau des Jacques
Their wine list is an opulent leather-bound affair that makes you think of weekends in Aspen and The Hamptons, which you’ve never had. It also makes you think of how cool would it be if The Bev would invite Tom Waites to play on a Saturday night. Or at least play his music for more than a tinkling of edge. Wine with the right music is key. Radio Head is good for a glass of Chamonix Reserve Pinot Noir, and Van Morrison makes a glass of Tassies far easier to swallow. I shared a bottle of Raka Quinary 2006 the night before and that went down really swell with a slow hip-shimmy kitchen boogie to Joe Jackson.
And it would be rather nice to have their wine list in electronic format, like a Kindle, but a personalised Kindle called a Windle for ordering wine at The Bev. This way you can research and Tweet direct wine links as you sip. If there was such a thing as a Kindle cross a Windle then you could read, aah, say, Hanif Kureishi as you drink:
“Against death and authoritarianism there is only one thing” he said once. “Love?” I suggested. “Culture, I was going to say,” he said. “Far more important. Any clown can fall in love or have sex. But to write a play, paint a Rothko or discover the unconscious – aren’t these extraordinary feats of imagination, the only negation of the human desire to murder?”
Upon reading that, I swooned, took a giant sip of my Gamay Noir and it rushed through my body like fresh new blood in my veins.