There’s another world hidden along Hackney Road in the heart of Shoreditch; one sure to turn your cocktail expectations on its head, all you have to do is step through the looking glass.
A rather simple room greets you as you walk into the Looking Glass Cocktail Club. Under bare light bulbs and against the exposed brick work sit a scattering of mismatched chairs. Seemingly borrowed by the Mad Hatter throwing an impromptu tea party - to accommodate the unexpected numbers of people as they chatter and dangle tea cups in their hands.
Ambience and Clientele
But through the large mirror to the side of the bar, a whole different experience awaits. Encompassed by warm red walls, the aroma of popcorn lingers in the air. Dotted around vintage travelling trunks are spacious pouffes which often sit two cosy cocktail sippers. Opposite them, on the gold framed couches that wouldn’t look out of place in a palace, trendy friends and those in the know, intertwine comfortably as they whisper with absinthe-laced breath.
With this stripped back venue the focus is all in the taste and with a menu so irresistible that it may as well have the order DRINK ME inscribed at the head. Looking Glass pulls no punches with their experimentation and their cocktail menu seems to be an offering of off-the-wall ingredients; lemon curd, raisin cream and popcorn are but a few. Yet, these surprising combinations work so well together that you learn to trust the mad mixologist sporting the top hat behind the bar and view the menu less skeptically than you did at your first glance.
Every cocktail seems to be a competition winner or runner up; the potent Shades of Green is garnished with pickle and dill and infused with a mist of Absinthe. It sounds like a potion that would grow hairs on your chest, but instead the Polish Vestal vodka with its earthy tones is perfectly complemented by the tangy pickle and balanced by the sweet taste of the dill syrup. Although, it won’t make you shrink or enlarge uncontrollably, knock a few back too quickly and it could have serious repercussions concerning your ability to judge the size of your surroundings. Stir the bitter-infused sugar into your lavender and Earl Grey Storm in a Tea Cup, to sweeten it to your personal tastes while you appreciate the 80s funky house that pours over you from the DJ booth.
It could be easy to judge Looking Glass on their sparse entrance, but this is a cocktail bar that should be assessed on its serious boundary-pushing tastes and the buzz produced by the clientele sipping on the award-winning cocktails. With most of the area behind the looking glass open for mingling and cocktail-produced dancing, this looks set to be a Shoreditch party bar.