Sunday, September 8, 2013

Return of the Speakeasy: London's latest trend


Forget the usual night out in the same old clubs and instead embrace London's newest trend: the speakeasy. Offering a throwback to 1920s prohibition era America, when alcohol was outlawed and people were forced to come up with ingenious, inventive ways to enjoy their favourite tipple, modern speakeasies may not need to be quite so clandestine, but they're terrific fun, and a welcome change from the usual Friday night out. 

The Experimental Cocktail Club, for example, is a little gem tucked away in an unassuming three-storey townhouse in the midst of China Town. It has no name or number on its shabby door so you have to know the address (Number 13, Gerrard Street) in order to find it.
 
1920s style in Downton Abbey
If you manage to sweet-talk the doorman into letting you in, you'll be greeted with a sumptuous interior of exposed red brick walls, mirrored ceilings and dark, comfy chairs. Behind the bar are some rare and unusual spirits in ancient bottles reserved especially for their Vintage Cocktail Experiences. Even the toilets here are something special, with their teapot lamps and flamingo wallpaper.


Along with unmarked doors, secret entrances are a feature of speakeasies and The Mayor of Scaredy Cat Town is the perfect example. This delightfully quirky bar is located in the basement of the Breakfast Club in Spitalfields and is only accessible by going past the toilets and then stepping through the door of a fridge. 
Weird and wonderful paraphernalia await inside, along with the 'World's Second Smallest Disco'. The ideal spot in which to sip a Spitalfields Spritz or Posh Paddington cocktail.

At Marylebone speakeasy, Purl, the drinks menus are hidden away inside old copies of Blackwoods Magazine, and the bookmark is actually the cocktail menu. Here you can sip a Street Urchin cocktail out of a teacup, in a basement bar full of wood panelling, cosy fireplaces, leather chesterfields and smooth jazz music. 

So, for the best possible speakeasy experience, first go shopping for party dresses to make sure you look the part - then pretend this is 1920s New York and enjoy a night of decadence, sipping cocktails and dancing in opulent surroundings to music from a bygone era. 

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