Feel like mixing it up a bit with with the best mixologists in town? Who wants dull old Pina Coladas these days - we want savory food in our drinks, we want weird containers and we definitely want popcorn involved. Luckily for us, the London Cocktail Club understands our needs and urges and is here to indulge every last one.
Usually a huge sign reassures even the most skeptical that the correct venue has at last been found, especially when the night starts with a lost wander along Shoreditch high Street. But once we were through the door and walking down a dark staircase into a shady underground basement, we couldn’t help but wonder if we’d been lured into some kind of drug-dealing, gangster hang out. Luckily for us, it just happened to be a dark staircase. This review doesn’t end with ‘and then we called the police’.
Our unease was entirely unwarranted as aproned men led us to a spot at the bar to sit on cool metallic stools. I barely had time to take in the intriguing graffiti wall art in this underground lair (the gangster theory flitted back into my mind) before these friendly hosts took the night by the handles and steered us towards our cocktail soul mates. Colourful and slightly terrifying, this biker-inspired mural, set against a mostly black interior, certainly gives this basement bar an edge. Expect skulls in leather enjoying a wild ride – what else screams ‘great night out’?
Now don’t get me wrong, I have had many a cocktail in my time. But these drink deities ruled them all. I started with a Peach Island Sour, great for anyone who likes their tipples straight to the point and not sickeningly sweet. An accidental downing led the bartender straight back to us, recommending the next drink, which I decided would be the Love Potion No 9. This rich and frisky concoction involved gin, dessert wine, pineapple and lemon - a zesty little number with a kick and a slight sweetness to help it down the throat nice and smoothly. Oh, and one more ingredient – a condom attached to the glass via a tiny (adorable) peg. That’s right, ladies and gents, a condom – something to consider if you happen to be on a date. And the best part – it’s rectangular, leaving the unwitting customer to grope the packet for five minutes before asking the bartender, excuse me, what is this? Is it sugar? Yes, it was a tense moment, but the alcohol helped us through it.
The only downer about these brilliant beverages is the price tag – each cocktail is the best part of £10 and, although these masterpieces are well worth the money, this does make for an empty bar the week before payday. Happy Hour is a great shout but does leave you restricted to Mondays or 5-8pm during the week. If you prefer to party on the Saturday, you’ll have to save up I’m afraid.
The drinks weren’t just delectable – they were a hell of a lot of fun, which sums up the feel of this venue. It’s the quirky concepts and the energy of London’s finest mixologists that really make this place stand out. Contraception not being the only prop, you could order the Rumbongo and a monkey-faced water cooler would come with it. The Fortune Cookie is another howler, served in a bowl with ‘chop sticks’ (straws) and a fortune cookie. This one came with great stories too, including a man who attempted to scoop his drink from the bowl and one unlucky customer whose fortune cookie contained a one-worded message: ‘RUN’. Get your drinks on fire, in jam jars, bacon and egg flavoured, with biscuits, orange peel origami or boxed and topped with popcorn, and most importantly, stunningly made right before your eyes by bar staff that drink as they go (and thankfully seem immune to any consequences). It’s a riot of excitement watching these creative concoctions and easy to have a laugh with these guys so expect a fun and lively atmosphere - the drinks are not just drinks, after all. We even ended up behind the bar to make Porn Star Martinis, which is much harder than it looks, by the way – especially when you’re making it at the end of the night…
Needless to say, I could not manage the simple technicalities of the ‘Chicks’ toilet door (it turns out it has a handle…) and there is a lonely scarf somewhere in the vicinity of the bar that I will never lay hands on again. You know it’s a good night when you eat chips and nearly get run over on the way home.
I thoroughly recommend a visit to this shady spot – hit that Happy Hour if you’re in a penny-saving way and let the pros take you on a journey through the madness that is mixology.