Ditch your search for Platform 9¾ at King’s Cross Station and head to VOC in Varnisher’s Yard instead; a bar renowned for its elaborate cocktails and experienced mixologists. Now that’s where the real magic can be found.
Walking through the entrance of VOC (when I finally found it) I was instantly hit with a seventeenth century maritime theme. The brick work and mahogany furnishings in the downstairs area gave a helping hand to the historical vibe VOC have worked so hard to establish. Aged caskets and other quirky touches like pirate maps for blinds make the venue all the more unique.
Seeing as we were dining as well as sampling cocktails, we were seated upstairs. Compared to the bar area, I feel the dining area lacked the same character; however it did boast its own personal charm. Built-in cubby holes were home to ornamental globes, marble horses, vases and mirrors, which created the illusion of gazing out of a ship window.
The Food & Drink
The first page of VOC's drink menu describes the whole idea behind VOC and what they’re aiming to recreate: which are history’s greatest punches with a modern twist. Our server for the evening recommended the Raspberry Shrub (£11). This sweet blend of Pamero Especial bottled with fresh lemon juice, honey and fresh raspberries comes matured for at least one week. My companion stumbled past this fruity tipple and landed head-over-heels for the Walsingham’s Interrogation (£10). It's a lush combination of Tanqueray Rangpur shaken with King’s Ginger, Chywanaprash, fresh mint and apple juice. With these tipples keeping our taste buds busy we ordered our food.
VOC's food menu came across a little less adventurous compared to the impressive list of cocktails on offer. With a small number of choices in front of us, we ordered the Panko Calamari (£5.90) and Chicken Wings in a hot sauce (£5.50). Sampling both, they failed to blow things out of the water but we had a feeling the burgers would tell a different story. With the faith of the meal hanging in our mains we ordered another round of drinks. Cue The Butterfly (£10); a strong, cutesy number which makes a great choice for warming your cockles come winter-time. It contains spiced rum, ginger liqueur and coconut and came topped with ginger beer.
The Portobello Burger (£7) made a mighty impression the minute it presented itself. It came accompanied by triple cooked chips and one bite had me rolling my eyes with satisfaction. It was juicy and thick, an ever-so tender patty that I'd heartily recommend. Across the table my friend sunk her teeth into the Old Smokey (£9). The smoked cheese dribbled down the side making it look like a food porn advert, but I was 100% content with my vegetarian option.
Arriving at 8pm, VOC was in full swing. People claimed tables, chairs and standing space. There was a healthy mix of guys and girls, the majority fitting the category of post-work crowd. Everyone seemed to be in good spirits, which isn’t a surprise as Christmas is only around the corner. VOC were also spreading their own Christmas cheer upstairs by laying out festive crackers on every single table. A few cocktails later my friend and I were caught red-handed, laughing at some of the terrible cracker jokes. This goes to show you the strength of VOC's in-house concoctions. Fair play VOC, fair play.
VOC resurrects a bygone era through the art of mixology beside bustling King’s Cross station. While the venue stumbles when it comes to food, the cocktails set the bar high and are well worth a visit in their own right. The two don’t quite meet in the middle but nonetheless, they serve a mean vegetarian burger.