Forgive me, Bar Father, for I have sinned: I love cocktails, but my search for the best ones has kept me far, far away from Central. I have traversed the most hipster-filled underground bars in the East, the most hoity-toity gastropubs in the West, and battled through the gentrification to find the party bars in the North, but my quest for Eden has never taken me to the centre. But it was Eve, the new basement bar at Frog by Adam Handling, that tempted me to leave my skinny-jeaned, bearded paradise for something naughty in Covent Garden.
Venue and Atmosphere
Eve is all about getting you to do bad things and not feel guilty about it. You’ll walk through the brightly lit (and rather nice) Frog By Adam Handling before peeling back a velvet curtain and descending (both literally and metaphorically) into this underground bar. Downstairs the lights are appropriately moody, coupled with a dark colour scheme and stained-glass windows lit from behind that really hammers home the biblical imagery.
The only issue is that, compared with the other interesting flourishes, the area around the dark wooden bar feels a bit empty. But touches like the fact even the velvet booths bring you and your drinking partner together in a way that basically forces you to have hushed conversations makes it a bit more special. The path leading to the toilets are filled with statues and other symbols of temptation, and it all contributes to, ultimately, its cool cocktail bar aesthetic. The very knowledgeable bar staff keep the atmosphere jovial and they're often laughing with the young professionals that populated most of the tables. This is a nice ice breaker, especially if you're on a first or second date - which most of these people were.
Drinks and Food
The menu at Eve is split into sections like ‘Innocence’, ‘Temptation’ and ‘Indulgence’, depending on how naughty you are feeling. We felt like we needed a bit of drinking foreplay before diving into the really tempting stuff, we opted for the apple itself: Temptation.
Never being able to resist a bit of whisky, my first choice was the Uncensored (£14), coming with Glenfiddich 15yr, Passionfruit, Tonka Bean, Miso and Champagne. The whisky muscles to the forefront of this drink's flavour (which is what you want with a 15-year-old single malt), but the fruitiness of the passionfruit and the lightness of the Champagne made it dangerously drinkable. It was clear that for all their talk of naughtiness and temptation, they knew their way around some spirits.
My friend’s Insurrection (£13) – made from Havana Club Seleccion de Maestros, beetroot, blackcurrant, honey – wasn’t just devilishly sweet and tasty, but it looked a treat too. The problem, though, is that my pal is the biggest lightweight in the entire world, so we took some safety precautions and ordered a few of their little bar snacks.
First up were the Razor Clams (£5), served up on a palette of smoking stones. It was the most visually stunning of the lot, creating a spectacle as the smoke poured onto the table like a witch's cauldron, but the single bite was fresh and delicious too. Speaking of witch's cauldrons, I’ve always wanted to eat frog legs because anything that sounds remotely weird is always appealing, and the little Frog Leg Popcorns (£7) were there to fulfil my aspirations. The dipping sauce was amazing (we may have used the clam shells to scoop some up later, don't tell my mum), but the myth that they taste like chicken is proper fake news - they tasted more like fishcakes.
But the stars of the food were the Cheese & Truffle Doughnuts (£5). The most substantial things on the menu, they ooze glorious, succulent cheese from the savoury doughnut and the memory alone is enough to make me dream of drowning in cheese.
Finally, we ended on an Endeavour (£13), made from Tanqueray No. Ten, coconut milk, eucalyptus, cardamom and Branca Menta; and also a Red to Black (£14), mixed with FEW bourbon, cherry, black olive, Cocchi Vermouth di Torino and Campari. Sufficiently boozed and completely surrendering to temptation, we both stumbled home, feeling significantly less guilt than we should have.
Eve’s concept is fun, playful and works in nearly every aspect. But interiors alone can’t tempt most of the coolest kids into Central London, so it’s lucky that their cocktails are expertly made and taste great. Just make sure you do say yes and fall for their very own Apple of Eden, the cheese doughnuts, next time you want to feel properly naughty.