Hidden from sight and oozing in character, there’s plenty of reasons why I’ve always held a special place in my heart for secret speakeasies. One thing keeps dragging me down into those dimly lit sanctuaries? Whiskey. Whether I'm sipping from a tumbler or a cocktail, 1920s bars rarely miss a step when it comes to the good brown stuff. Another member of DesignMyNight agreed, and so it was up to us to take on the task of drinking our way through everything Megaro Bar in Kings Cross has to offer.
The Venue and Atmosphere
Descend down a flight of stairs within Hotel Megaro’s boutique restaurant and you’ll find the intimate drinking den. The dim lighting provides the speakeasy vibes without making the relatively small space feel claustrophobic, while red velvet curtains separate the different seating spaces: brown chesterfield sofas on one side and cool, retractable cinema-style seats the other, all lending to its 1920s film set theme.
It pulls off the theme well enough that, at points, I felt as if I should be staring my friend in the eyes, cigarette in hand, talking ‘applesauce’ and saying things like ‘hostsy-totsy’ like I'm in Casablanca. The crowd on the Wednesday was mainly young professionals, with a few dates scattered around and partially hidden by the curtains. However, the venue turns from intimate date hideaway to nightlife hotspot come Thursday and Friday, with British Jazz playing on the former and Electro Swing filling the air on the latter.
With our waitress guiding us to some of those retractable cinema seats and the hanging spotlight delivering the ambiance of an intimate movie scene, it was time to crack on with the main event: drinks. The menu is packed with whiskey (did I mention it's our favourite?), but as professionals we knew it was best to take an eclectic look at the menu. We kicked off the evening with a Mint Julep (£9.50), made from bourbon, sugar, mint, which managed to be refreshing while still maintaining a strong punch. My friend chose a Last Word (£9.50), which used Tanqueray gin, maraschino, green chartreuse, and lime juice. While the taste of the chartreuse shines through, the drink managed to tread the line between strong and tasty quite well.
Afterwards, the waitress recommended we try the Hendrick's Corpse Reviver #2 (£20 for two). Taking that name – and its ingredients of Hendrick's Gin, Cointreau, and, *gulp* absinthe – as a challenge, we ordered the sharer. This is where Megaro bust out the theatrics: two Alice in Wonderland-esque tea cups are laid on the table, inscribed with their own literary quote encouraging you to seize the day (and misbehave). A teaspoon with a sugar lump sits on top, which the barman lights on fire, before pouring the cocktail from the teapot into the flame.
But is all that effort worth it? Yes! The visuals are interesting and the drink, as the name implies, packs a serious punch. But even those of a weaker constitution won’t necessarily have to flinch away, as the sweet lemon juice counters the potential burn from the absinthe, mixing together well to create the stand out drink of the night. To finish off, we ordered our favourite cocktail, an Old Fashioned (£10). This was the right drink to close the evening, with them adding just enough zestiness to compliment the drink and the garnish topping off a pretty picture on the table.
Megaro Bar is small, quirky and semi-secret, but worth seeking out whenever you’re in Central London. The drinks are crafted to a high standard and their daily happy hour solidifies it as an after-work drinks destination with a stylish twist. With inventive cocktails, a wonderfully speakeasy tone and oozing with 1920s atmosphere, if you’re a fan of the old talkies, Megaro should be on your list.