Simmons, found a couple of minutes’ walk from King’s Cross, used to be a quaint tea room but has established a change in attitude in recent months and it was the new dessert-influenced cocktail menu which drew me to its door.
I entered the bar and was immediately set at ease by its retro, tongue-in-cheek decor: the narrow main room, which can cram in about 50 people, is scattered with playful relics of a 1980’s childhood. Graffiti-stained school decks – etched with names (as well as the occasional profanity) – help to bring out the mischief in the trendy types who sup cocktails on their wooden tops.
A skull mirrorball looms above; and on a bookshelf there’s a yellowing picture of Charles and Di’s wedding and a copy of Topper, alongside empty cans and bottles.. Elsewhere there’s plenty of dated curios which create the feeling that you are in the naughty-but-cool kid’s shed.
The Atmosphere and Clientele
On Friday and Saturday nights 1980’s disco, electro and funk tunes and a late licence crank up the fun. This ticks the shabby-retro-cool box. Expect trendy 20 to 30 somethings who are down for something intriguing and fun. In Simmons’ downstairs room, for instance, there’s a Sega Mega Drive, offering the perfect opportunity to dust up on your skills. You’ll find most of the classic games, and – lubricated by a cocktail or two, you will be gleefully transported back to days when life was a significantly more carefree.
The drinks are good, too – and similarly playful, served as they are in tea cups and other unusual vessels. Bottled beers are available, and there is a rudimentary wine menu, but it’s the cocktail list you will want to reach for. There are a handful of classics, including Espresso Martinis, Mojitos and Long Island iced teas, plus many other more quirky drinks, such as ‘Tastes like Elliot’, a concoction which refers to the eponymous co-owner. “This could possibly be the best drink you’ll ever have,” the blurb boasts.
This creamy Chambord-strawberry mix and the other cocktails cost only around £8 each. That price is further snipped when you make the most of the very generous happy ‘hour’ promotion – a five-hour daily period. The new dessert cocktails are cheeky, too, and I particularly enjoyed Toblerone (Baileys, Kahlua, Frangelico topped with cream and honey), even if it rather bumped up my calories that day. Also Strawberry Cake shows how well Chambord and amaretto blend with strawberries. Who knew?
Simmons is ideal for an irreverent date or a few drinks with mates to show off your gaming skills. It may sound shabby, with the empties adorning the sideboards, but the overall vibe of recalcitrant youth works well and credit must be given to the owners for their mocktail-cocktail bar. Simmons’ beauty is that it doesn’t take itself seriously, and – even better – its urging you not to either.