Bar talk with Zoë Zimmer

Food & drink

Bar talk with Zoë Zimmer

The photographer, graphic artist and judge in this year's Mr & Mrs Smith Hotel Awards discusses dream bars, disaster dates and hangover cures (the latter two often go hand in hand)

Richard MacKichan

BY Richard MacKichan26 October 2017

Ok, so technically it’s not nighttime and our date is strictly professional but we are, at least, in a bar. In fact, it’s the winner of last year’s Best Date-Night Bar prize in the Mr & Mrs Smith Hotel Awards, the London Edition, where a waistcoated bartender is chopping blocks of ice in mesmeric fashion. My day-drinking companion is Zoë Zimmer who is on duty as a judge in this year’s category so the drinking is technically work.

Work for Zimmer was once on the catwalk (she started modelling at 15 after she was snapped by Bryan Adams at Cannes, no less) but since she quit eight years ago, she’s turned her hand to creating playful, seductive artworks with more than a hint of Hollywood glamour about them – just the thing to set the mood in a good date-night bar. Indeed, across town her alluring Eye No.1 peers out from the wall of The Curtain and plans for an exhibition are in the works. As a photographer, she’s shot album artwork for Brit-winner Jack Garratt, covers for Volt magazine and taken Morgan Freeman’s portrait.

She’s no stranger to globetrotting, either. Modelling took her around the world, she regularly joins her dad (Oscar-winning film composer, Hans Zimmer) on tour and has recently returned from a trip to Morocco where she found herself a little smitten: ‘L’Hotel Marrakech is currently duking it out with JK Place Capri for my Number One Favourite hotel.’ But back to bars. And dates…

Firstly, Zoë, thanks for being a judge in this year’s awards.
Ha, I’m happy my judgemental nature can be put to good use.

And more importantly: What are you drinking?
Double Woodford Reserve on the rocks. Always.

Describe your dream bar scenario…
Dark. Like, really dark. And ideally with some kind of jazz happening.

So what makes a bar a good date-night bar?
I’m kind of a believer that the guy should arrange the date, at least the first few anyway, which kind of leaves you at the mercy of their judgment. It should be fun without being too loud, intimate without being too quiet, cool without being pretentious… No pressure, guys.

Come to think of it, what makes a good date?
All the usual clichés: good sense of humour, things in common, not being a homicidal maniac…

Do you have any date disaster stories?
Haven’t we all? I once went for drinks with a guy who proudly told me he chose to not use electricity in his house because it made him feel ‘more authentic’. Whatever the hell that means.

Ever had a holiday romance?
Sì, Signore.

You’ve lived in London and LA: how does the bar scene differ?
LA doesn’t really have the same casual drinking culture that we have in London, so the bar scene is much more of a ‘scene’ because it takes a bit more effort. Personally, I prefer the spontaneity we have here of ‘grabbing a drink’.

What’s your go-to hangover cure?
Egg McMuffin. Feel free to judge me, I can take it.

Have you ever attempted any minibar mixology?
Not that I can remember, although that doesn’t mean I haven’t.

Do you believe in love at first sight?
Sure, why not. Life’s more fun when you’re down with the idea that anything can happen.

Thanks Zoë. Are we going Dutch?
That depends – is this a date?