Activity bars have seen a real spike in popularity across the country, and I for one love a little something extra to spice up a night out. Drinks and games are a match made in heaven, so naturally I was thrilled to make a visit to Four Quarters Newcastle - the brand's first location in the North East, following on from their venues in Bristol and across London.
Tucked away at the top of Dean Street, it's a deceptively large gaming place in Newcastle that spans across two floors. They offer regular events in the upper bar, but we went straight down to the basement to try out their range of arcade machines. Just like the Four Quarters Elephant and Castle location in London, this level felt like a traditional arcade without any of the gaudiness; the dark decor and low neon lighting created an exciting atmosphere to drink in and showcased the bright lights of games on offer. The layout is designed to replicate a travel through time too - with arcade games and consoles dating back to the 70s at one end of the room, going right up to machines from the early 2000s at the other.
Our review of the Four Quarters Newcastle menu revolved around their whole separate list of original cocktails designed by the bar staff, all with inventive names matching the venue's theme. We both started off with the sakura spritz (£9.50) each. The fresh and fruity cocktail was made up of Absolut vanilla and sauvignon blanc, blended with lemon, lychee and raspberries for a vibrant look alongside a slightly acidic taste.
These were followed up with another round of house concoctions. I chose the Riley Reid (£9) - a sweet muddle of vodka, pineapple and passionfruit presented beautifully with fresh raspberries. My partner went for a Coconut Mall (£9) (yup, just like that iconic Mario Kart track), which the bartenders described as a clarified riff on a pina colada. As promised, the drink was completely clear; a smooth, coconutty blend with a classy appearance.
Now onto the main event: the games. There was such a wide range that you’d never be able to play everything in one visit, but we still gave it our best shot. All of the arcade machines are powered by genuine American quarters (four for £2 or 15 for £7), giving the experience an authentic feel. We began with several of the classic ‘beat ‘em up’ games, including The Simpsons and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. These were fun, collaborative sessions that you could play solo or in groups of up to four. The only downside was that the quarter didn't provide a particularly long gaming time, so others may be better value.
Then, we moved on to an all-time classic arcade game: Pac-Man. I’d actually never played this one before and it was probably my favourite, although I did find it embarrassingly difficult at first. Next up was a variety of retro consoles, which are free of charge - a bargain. We played the original Mario Kart on SNES, which was a blast but surprisingly hard to control. In the same vein, we also tried out some fun minigames in Mario Party on the Nintendo GameCube, before attempting Sonic Adventure on the Sega Dreamcast - a classic that still holds up all these years later.
All of that gaming was extremely thirsty work, so a final round of cocktails was in order before calling it a night. This time, I picked Golden Hour (£9.50), a boozy concoction made up of vodka, triple sec, Aperol and a prosecco sorbet. It had a bright citrus flavour to balance the slight bitterness, topped with shavings of orange peel. My partner’s choice was the Memento Mori (£9), a spicy and energising combination of rum, peach, lime and pineapple, with added jalapenos giving its signature kick.
The DesignMyNight Digest
A Four Quarters booking definitely feels like something unique in a city full of bars. The range of games is broad, while you can tell that the bar staff really take pride in the inventive drinks they offer. From those who really know retro arcades and console classics well to groups of mates looking to get competitive, anyone will find this a great destination.
💰 The damage: £55 for six cocktails and £14 on quarters.
📍 The location: 54 Dean Street, NE1 1PG.
👌 Perfect for: A fun and competitive group night out.
⭐ Need to know: All arcade cabs and consoles are originals for a real throwback feel.
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