There's certainly no shortage of cocktail bars in Central London, especially after the recent influx of cocktail hotspots in the capital. Former Covent Garden Bar of the Year, Be At One Lyceum Covent Garden manages to set itself apart from the others, so I dropped by to see exactly what marks it out from the rest.
Be At One Lyceum is a lively cocktail bar, situated across from the famous Lyceum theatre and about two minutes walk from Covent Garden. Part of an ever growing chain of cocktail bars that has now spread across various areas of London and further afield, Be At One Lyceum serves up a huge list of cocktails to tourists and locals alike. With a long bar, panelled wooden flooring and simple decor, the interior of Be At One Lyceum is much the same as its sister bars: intimate, unassuming and welcoming.
The Ambience & Clientele:
The atmosphere is instantly much livelier than many other cocktail bars I have visited. Where cocktail bars in London so often carry an air of exclusivity, Be At One bars operate the middle ground between fun party bar and cocktail specialists. Rather refreshingly, Be At One makes you feel comfortable from the off, and simple touches like pictures in the menu mean you don't have to be a cocktail connoisseur to know what you're ordering.
As soon as we enter, the loud and retro 80's soundtrack sets the tone; it's upbeat, non-pretentious and most of all, it's good fun. Before we know it, one of the bar-staff comes over to introduces herself and ask how our cocktails are; as seems to be the trend with Be At One staff, she's friendly and seems genuinely knowledgable about her craft. The clientele are a mix of suited city workers minus their ties and twenty-somethings out for a few drinks, all in all making for a great party atmosphere.
My friend and I are greeted by the bar tender and handed a drinks list to begin perusing the cocktails - he's already busy serving other customers but this simple recognition reassures us that our wait will not be long. We scan through the huge list of cocktails, with concoctions of all varieties. I go for the Lychee Martini (Gin, Lychee Juice and Lychee Liqueur), my friend opts for a Vesper (Gin, Ketel One Vodka and a dash of Lillet Blanc). It's Happy Hour until 8pm (7pm Wednes-Sat) and our Martinis are 2-4-1 so we are handed twice what we expected. Good job then, that my Lychee Martini was smooth and fruity, with the Lychee offering a welcome floral taste.
Be At One's cocktails don't quite reach the heights of some of London's other leading cocktail bars in terms of originality, but what Be At One lacks, it more than makes up for in great service and variety. Drinks are prepared from scratch - whilst this can often result in longer than average queues for drinks, the bartenders do everything they can to talk to you and make your wait that little less agonizing.
All of this goes a long way to changing the perception of cocktail bars, and reinforces the idea that just because you have a posh drink, it doesn't mean you have to sit whispering in a dark corner; you can laugh, you can sing and you can have fun. At Be At One Covent Garden Lyceum, you can do all these things and more!