If you are crying out for a new style of bar, no more of this speak-easy 1920s trend with moustachioed bar tenders wearing braces that is spreading across East London then I have found¦another one! Happiness Forgets. I loved the name on hearing it.
Considering Hoxton Square has just four sides, this bar was another hidden gem. My companion was muttering look out for the windmill whilst I was checking the walls for the mural I had read about. Turns out we were both wrong; the windmill (about 2 feet high) and the artwork is downstairs but an A-board outside will keep you right.
We wandered down and pulled up two stools at the bar. Ladies, they also have hooks under the bar for bags. We were promptly greeted by the host who enquired if we were comfortable where we were or if we would like a seat within the body of the room; however we were happy watching the magic happen up front. With the moustachioed bar tender. In his braces. (We were drinking beside Callooh Callay owner to give you an idea how on trend this bar is)
Their menu offers about 20 cocktails, all at a very reasonable £7 each. There is also a small, and perhaps out of place, selection of Thai food on the back. I can only presume this comes from upstairs but we opted for a liquid visit only. Whilst perusing the menu, two glasses of cucumber infused water appeared and were regularly topped up and this is always an important point for me whether I am there for one drink or settling in for the night.
And I could definitely settle in for the night here. The subtle background jazz, candle lighting (also in the bathroom!) and comfortable buzz about the place almost made me regret that this visit was in London Cocktail Week and there were so many other venues still to visit. There was a selection of wine at £4-£5 a glass and beer (the excellent Meantime is house larger) comes in around £3.50 to £4 a bottle. However as they say on their website Great Cocktails, No Wallies so enjoy their delightful offerings, they are the experts. As for going off-liste, this is a must-do test for any cocktail bar worth their salt-rimmed glasses, putting a base spirit to a bar man to see what he asks and what creation he comes up with; they more than passed this challenge.
Discover this secret hidden cocktail bar in the heart of Shoreditch and Hoxton Square.
During the visit, we overheard the host explain that there was a no standing policy. My first reaction was that this was another one of those rules that can damage a bar (no suits, must book etc) however this is a narrow bar and we soon appreciated that the barmen need time not only to make their excellent libations but to take the time to chat. We had no one breathing over our shoulder to put in an order; nor did I have to run the gauntlet to make it to the bathroom. In fact, this is a trend which could catch on for the better!
The relaxed atmosphere means you would feel as comfortable here coming with a group of friends as you would in a couple, but I cannot help thinking there is something rather romantic about the place. Also, it does call last orders at 11pm so it is perfect to drop by before or after dinner, but when youre this chilled out it would be hard to get going again. There are plenty of warm up bars in Hoxton if you are hitting the dance floor later.
So book a seat, settle in, tap your toes and sip a cocktail. You will not regret it. I didnt, nor will I forget the happiness I found at the bottom of their stairs.