As I write this review, Kings Cross is still very much up and coming, in terms of the nightlife scene. Many of its large super clubs closed their doors years ago leaving only Egg, Scala and a smattering of the known bars that only locals or the super cool seem privy too! However, there is a renaissance happening for this London hub with great pubs and bars opening their doors, almost in the Shoreditch mould, and one venue leading this revolution is Drink Shop Do.
Ambience and decor
Firstly let me explain the set up...Drink Shop Do is a wonderfully kooky and kitsch café the delightful 'things' that can be bought, including everything on the walls; the sort of place you'd love a gift voucher for so you could blow hundreds on stuff you don't need but would probably make you smile everyday. Open in the day, you can enjoy retro sweets and drinks (including my favourite, Coke Float), freshly made cakes and global teas, scrabble and chess. The type of place you can quite happily come all day and pretend is the living room you wish you always had.
Hidden below is its alter ego, housed in an ex sex shop, Drink Shop Do is a secret basement bar; a den of iniquity where anything and anyone goes. Head for the toilets and you will see a neon erotica sign leading the way to their dirty little secret! While Drink Shop Do is a plethora of wonderful and decorative gems on the walls, ceiling and tables, Drink Shop Do is a whole more moody affair: The walls are pitch black all over with very little decoration and black banquettes and scattered black and white tables littering the floor. The drinks bar stands proudly on the left hand side as you enter, covered in top quality drinks brands, including a selection of 30 gins! Carry on walking though an almost Victorian arch, dressed with black velvet curtains, and you are in the second area, where the DJ is pulling the strings to his adoring, arms in the air crowd. The space is small (capacity of around 80) and beautifully gothic.
Kooky wonderfulness of Drink Shop Do - it's a bit darker and livlier at night!
Clientele and atmosphere
King's Cross has (thankfully) managed to avoid the uber trendy Easties gracing its shores as of yet so you won't find any idiotic hats or bow-ties here. Instead it is very much the young professional fun-time crowd looking for a weekend release in cool surroundings. It was a good mix of men and women and the age range seemed to span from 23 year olds to mid thirties...so avoiding the 21 and below crowd. There was not one hint of pretence or judging looks from anyone and more just a bunch of people looking to have some good old-fashioned fun with a drink in hand and feet on the dance floor. As the space is quite small it can get a bit bumpy at times but not once did anyone think this had an ounce of malice. Upstairs in Drink Shop Do the crowd are similar types but more out to chill and catch up with mates, while perhaps playing the odd game of scrabble or indeed the 'Do Challenge' for the night, which happened to be an adult version of colour by numbers! Although there is less dancing upstairs this does not mean it is in anyway shape or form quiet....no chair was empty and people were up and mingling throughout, with a genuine social buzz in the air. Whether you are looking to dance or sit back and chat you can take your pick of floors and never feel like you are missing out or making a wrong decision!
Food and Drinks
Food comes in the form of a tantalising array of freshly baked cakes, brownies, cupcakes and English tea sandwiches. Oh and jars and jars of everyone's favourite retro sweets....something tells me management has a rather sweet tooth! Far too often in my experience a bar has the style but not the substance. In this world, the substance are the drinks. I was praying that Drink Shop Do/Dance had the substance as everything else was ticking my boxes, so I was relieved and delighted when I browsed the cocktail menu: There were only 10 cocktails on the menu and a further 4 on the specials board. Carefully selected and put together, the menu read like a wet dream (befitting of its previous life as a sex shop). The Marmalade Mule (Chase Marmalade, Lukesowa, Marmalade, Ginger Beer and Lime), Winter Daquiri (Chairmans Reserve Spiced, Lime and Winter warming Gomme) and Ginger Old Fashioned (Evan Williams Extra Aged, Angostura Bitters, Sugar & Kings Ginger) were the standouts and quite frankly....delicious! Ranging from £7.50 to £9.50 they are more than worth the outlay.
As a Gin lover I engaged in a long discussion with the knowledgeable and friendly bar lady about which of the 30 Gins I had to try...if you love Gin then you must try the Zuidam Genever, which is a European gin aged in a bourbon barrel and has a wonderful bourbon smokiness to it...divine! Also give the Blu Zephyr a go for a very interesting spicy note. All the house spirits are top notch and you will see no mass brands touching any of your cocktails.
The geometric black and white decor of Drink Shop Do
The music is as eclectic as the décor. Upstairs was a combination of electro, rock, house and classics while downstairs (from 7pm until about 10pm) was easy house (nothing too hectic) and then as the bar filled up the DJ went down the party route mixing old school rock, rockabilly and party classics (I'm sure Whitney and Journey made an appearance). Personally I think this mix suits the crowd and the environment perfectly as everyone in the bar were there to party and not looking for the latest in tech house or up and coming unsigned indie music! Friday nights you can expect a party mix of disco, electro, pop and hip-hop.
A snapshot of Drink Shop Do
I took a big gamble and combined a review with a friend's birthday so my neck was on the line by bringing everyone to Drink Shop Do! The next morning I got a text from pretty much everyone all saying the same thing...what a great night and what an amazing bar; great pick So don't take my word for it, but take 15 words that Drink Shop Do has now firmly announced itself onto, not only the bourgeoning Kings Cross scene but also the London scene. Non-pretentious, quirky, fun-time bars with killer drinks are hard to come by in London but by jove I think we've found an absolute gem in Drink Shop Do. Hurrah!
Pre-designs:After-work drinks, Fun-Time Party Night, Impress a date