There are hundreds of cocktail bars that grace our fine city, all perfectly pleasant and serving a decent margarita but not somewhere that leaves its mark. But then along comes London Cocktail Club, a raucous, all-night-long cocktail bar so loved by locals that it is quickly taking over the capital; the eighth and newest outpost has just opened up in Bethnal Green.
Paradise Row, it’s a happenin’ kind of place; even I, a young sweet girl from Devon, can recognise cool when I see it. It’s got hot, tattooed men and women hanging outside at Mother Kelly’s, it’s got oh-so-fancy Sager and Wilde, and now it's got London Cocktail Club fitting right in with its neighbours.
Built into one of the railway arches, the bar has an industrial, rough and ready-to-rock vibe. A silver steel balcony hangs over the bar, contrasting with comfy, red, leather sofas and fringed table lamps. Imagine your gran and ‘acts way older than 13’, cool, skater nephew teamed up and built a bomb shelter, LCC in Bethnal Green would be their beautiful vision.
Food & Drink
Who doesn’t love a good cocktail? I’ll tell you who certainly does - JJ Goodman, LCC’s founder and all round cracking mixologist. With more awards under his belt than is polite to mention and a huge personality to match, JJ’s cocktail menu is as fun as a night in one of his bars.
With a drinks list so huge, there’s a danger that you could get bogged down - where to start on your alcoholic journey? Fortunately everyone at LCC loves cocktails as much as me, and actually knows what they’re talking about, unlike me. When I said I wanted something ‘lemony and ginny and fizzy’ they recommended the Southside Royale (£9.50) - Bombay Sapphire gin, lime juice, mint and prosecco - which was both sour and sweet, with a refreshing kick.
Taste and flavour are a mere side note at LCC, cocktails are a work of art and a piece of theatre. Espresso martinis (£9.50) came with bourbon biscuits on the side, and The Dude (£9.50) - a potent mix of vodka and Tia Maria inspired by The Big Lebowski - had a homemade marshmallow perched on top. Perhaps the most theatrical was the Smoking Barrel (£12) in which a glass decanter filled with smoke and whiskey was delivered to our table, and left to ‘mature’. After a few minutes, we unscrewed the lid to release the amber liqueur from the swirling Hickory smoke, giving us a rich, flavoursome drink.
Food isn’t served at LCC, unless you count salted pop corn and Bourbon biscuits as a meal (and a few days before payday it often is). Instead, on every table, there were old VHS cases to prise open and find a mixture of the bar's favourite takeaway menus.
Have I mentioned that LCC is fun yet? Because it is, shot-pouring, lamp-swingingly good fun. Forget pretentious, dress up to the nines type places, the bar is more like hanging out in your cool mate’s living room. Staff are chilled out, friendly, and look like they are most probably having a better time than you; every half an hour, chants of ‘LCC’ erupted, accompanied by shot downing.
The soundtrack to the night was a hit list of R&B greats and 90s faves, and the bar quickly filled up with young East London types looking to start their Saturday night. Admittedly drinks aren’t cheap, but head there before 8pm and you can get two cocktails for £12.
This was my first time at LCC, but it sure as hell won't be my last. The cocktail company may be expanding rapidly but each of their bars maintain a sense of uniqueness and originality, the only surprising thing is that they haven't been in Paradise Row longer.