Londoners these days want one-off-pop-up-here-today-gone-tomorrow kind of bars. They want to stay ahead of the curve, get in on opening day and get out before it all falls through later. Be At One goes against the grain for cocktail bars that burn bright like meteors before burning out - its been going since 1998 after all. I headed to Be At One Monument to see why this bar outlives all its competitors. (I'll give you a head's up now though; it's because their drinks taste pretty damn good).
The tiled corridor that draws you into the heart of Be At One Monument opens out into the bright open space that is the main bar. The floor to ceiling windows give this room a sense of liveliness as the activity of London's frantic worker bees outside serves as a backdrop to the more excited buzz of the drinkers within. The light that floods into the room when we arrive on a nice summer's evening illuminates the dark wooden tables and chandeliers of the interior. Only a few hours (and cocktails) later when the sun goes down, does Be At One Monument assume a more sultry vibe, with the place's contours highlighted by the dark red lights behind the bar.
The Ambiance & Clientele:
It was a little while before 7pm when we headed in, and I was faced with what seemed to be a post-work party already in full swing. I'm always uncomfortably early for everything, so our reserved area was at this point occupied by some banker types. I thought a long wait while they sipped at the concoctions in their slender stemmed martini glasses was on the cards, but I clearly didn't understand the City mindset: these guys were already on the tail end of their stay, and soon cleared off home, briefcases in tow. Be At One's cocktail hour ends at 7pm, and this clearly signalled the hour for all the mature adults to get back to the real world.
All the post-work drinkers in Be At One Monument were happy as larry to be free of the office and letting their hair down with a delicious cocktail.
We, on the other hand, had no kids to put to bed, so were one of the few groups left behind to enjoy a more relaxed cocktail experience. We ordered at the bar, and one unfortunate trainee was tasked with assembling mine. Little did I know at this point that your first day bartending at Be At One is no stab in the dark, but rather the culmination of three weeks of classroom training. The commitment to a great quality product at Be At One was evident in the many results of these labours that we enjoyed throughout the night; the Basil Grande was delicious, seasoned with a little pepper on a floating leaf to give it an extra kick, the Wild Tea Martini had subtle floral notes, and the (two) Treacles that I finished off with were just sweet enough.
Throughout the stay, the staff were lovely, friendly and helpful. While ordering, each one had something interesting or funny to say about the cocktail they were making, so that by the time we left, we felt like it would have been rude not to go say a quick goodbye to them at the bar. It's this kind of attention to detail from the staff; cultivated during their extensive and in depth training, that has meant this brand has become such a mainstay on London's high streets. Job well done Be At One Monument.