Monday, 26 January 2015

Bermondsey Arts Club & Ladies and Gents Bar

Toilet Bar No1

Methinks it's time to take a trip to the toilet. However, there's no need to flush at either of these lovely lavatories. 

No 1: Bermondsey Arts Club and by far one of my favourite finds in London of late. Think underground art deco, jazzy tunes and spectacular cocktails.

No 2: Ladies & Gentlemen, newly opened in Kentish town but I'll get back to that later.

Thanks once again to Matt for opening my eyes to this wonderment. Our first little jaunt presented us with the exciting opportunity to taste the winter cocktail menu. (I say 'first' because we went back within a week since it was THAT good)! 

Remember that this iron ex-public toilety entrance on Tower Bridge Road is exactly what to keep your eyes peeled for but then your lips sealed. BAC is a great secret to have under your belt! 

Let me first introduce you to the Hit and Mist - whisky bitters, treacle syrup, and an appley hickory smoke presented in a magical steamy jar.

Three Wise was a combination of port, gin, sugar and (drumroll) gold/ frankincense/ myrrh bitters, served in a sake box with extra smokey whisps. 

It's not all about the show however (although that is undeniably excellent). Each of the magical mixers at the bar (Adam, Milo and Jake) have hand crafted each of their cocktails with a personality and twist that shows both in the taste and the presentation.

Levels. It's all about the levels! Milo's combination of fashion and cocktail arrived in the form of his Coupe des Garcons, wrapped in a black tie napkin jacket with a distinctly Comme de Garcon scent. Funny that, since he'd added a spritz of the cologne to the napkin, so when you sip the Calvados, Ramazzotti, Port and Peychauds bitters, it all swirls together in a fascinatingly subtle combination. you've really got to try it yourself!

Another mind boggling combination, this time from Adam was the inspired Phra Phum which combined House Thai Gin (a crazy mix of ginger, chilli, garlic and spring onion), lemon, sugar, egg white and house soy bitters. Put that in your pipe and smoke it! I guess liquid stir fry doesn't sound all that appealing but I was on it like a gin and tonic!

With all the fabulously imaginative cocktails priced below £10, live jazz nights on a Wednesday and three delightful barmen making equally delightful concoctions, you're onto a winner if you pull up a seat at the bar at Bermondsey Arts Club. (Come and say hi, there's a strong chance I'll be there)!

Toilet bar No 2

Head North to Kentish Town and you'll find the latest addition to the toilet bar trend. Ladies and Gents has an equally irony entrance leading to an equally former public toilet interior. 

Inside, the space is considerably smaller than BAC and the rooms are set out in a rather bizarre zigzag. Come early to avoid being turned away as there is little room to squeeze or perch once the tables and seats at the bar are taken. 

On our first visit (yes, once again, we couldn't help but return a week later), we took a more creative approach to ordering our drinks. Picking something off a menu was no fun for us and we decided that making something off the menu as they had been doing all evening was no fun for the bar staff. Cue the personality cocktail game. Oo I love a good game!

How to play:

1) Choose an entertainingly obscure selection of words

2) Request a drink that best reflects said combination

3) Hope your bar tender has some imagination.

Luckily, Leah was totally on board with our little game.

The 'L.I.MU' - Loving, insightful and mentally unstable contained um alcohols. Yes, the downside to the game is a severe case of memory loss as regards the actual contents of the drinks. There was absinthe..perhaps that had something to do with it..

Next up was the 'W.W.S' - Warm, witty and secretive. This was a big hit. Chocolate bitters were involved so I was happy.

If you don't fancy straying into such unknown territories, the menu features plenty of interesting twists on well known classics but I'm not going to give the game away, I don't want to completely ruin the surprise!

Adding to the growing list of lavatory takeovers (WC in Clapham and The Convenience on Brooksby's Walk), there's nothing bog standard about either of these little loos. In fact, they're somewhat talk of the town thanks to dear Giles Coren in his latest gripe (here), amusing as always. 

So if Bermondsey and Kentish Town weren't on your to do list, add them right away and if one stop doesn't quite do it for you, give me a shout and let me help you plan an adventure!

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