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Tuesday 17 June 2014

Stormbird - Communion Bar - Sun of Camberwell - On The Roof

Wednesday 11th June - The blog got a little Shoreditch heavy last week, so here is an attempt to balance things out with a trip to Camberwell.

The evening started with a pint in Stormbird, Camberwell's beer mecca which has been on my to-do list for a very long time.  It's a pleasant spot for an after work drink in summer as large windows open out on to the street. There's a great selection of beer, and the prices are very reasonable which makes a nice change - rewards for going slightly off the beaten track.  The likes of Marble Earl Grey IPA, Darkstar Art of Darkness, Wild Beer Madness IPA, Evil Twin Ashtray Heart and To Øl Cloud 9 Wit kept me happy.

They don't have a food offering, but you can bring in whatever you like from elsewhere, which we did later on during our second stay.

Our second stop of the evening was Communion Bar, tucked underneath Angel & Gypsies tapas restaurant. They describe themselves better than I ever could:

"Communion Bar is a place to enjoy a baptism of exceptional music & artisan beverages amidst a magical setting. At Communion bar we pay homage to the sacred beverage , mirroring the wondrous flavours from our community, while sharing in the entertainment that makes our South London roots so special.  To accompany the experience, leisurely tapas are available from our 'Angels & Gypsies' kitchen.

We are the kneeling, the ritual, the homage, the reverence of the holy elixir held in the sanctified chalice. 

We invite you to hold communion with us."

Translated - quirky stained glass window décor, complimentary communion wine & wafers at every table, a great line up of live funk music, and bonkers cocktails making use of local ingredients and influences.  Food from upstairs is available til late which is a bonus, and they run a rather superb Holy Happy Hour from 6pm-8pm when all signature cocktails are £5

We started with Pretty Little Shanty Town (Dark rum, Velvet Falermurn, lime, ginger, orange bitters & molasses) which had a delicious helping of honeycomb on top, and an Outlaw (Jim Beam, home made cranberry syrup, mint, sugar & chocolate bitters).

Moving on to some of their more bizarre offerings, Lauren went for a Tannery (Vodka, Araku - a rum coffee liquer, Nigerian guiness foam and chilli chocolate) which had a tasty frozen chilli chocolate coating around the rim.  

I was very taken with my Black Rice Old Fashioned (Jameson whisky stirred with splash of Black Sticky Rice liqueur, home made nettle syrup & peychaud's bitters), as was Ryan who ordered one for himself later on.

Tanner topped with Nigerian Guiness Foam

Black Rice Old Fashioned
Paul meanwhile went for the ridiculous Grass Arena - inspired by John Healy's tale of homeless alcoholism and chess - Carlsberg Special Brew, chilli infused Dewar's Whisky, home made cranberry syrup & Buckfast tonic wine.  Surprisingly drinkable considering the mad ingredients!

My Uncle Mauby (Home made pineapple wine, fresh Granadilla - Colombian passion fruit, white & dark rum, Mauby bark syrup & lavender sugar) was topped with a generous portion of passion fruit, whilst Lauren's South Eastern (Lemon verbena infused vodka, fresh sweet basil, green cardoman, lemon & green apple) also had fruity garnishes - were they trying to give us our five a day (rather than our daily bread)?

Grass Arena & South Eastern

Carlsberg Special Brew in a cocktail?

Uncle Mauby
The last round included a enjoyable Daisy Flower Martini (Daisy infused Lillet Blanc stirred with Snow Leopard Vodka over broken grapefruit zest) which was not as boozy as Sean had hoped, and a Dry Cherry Ilegal (Ilegal Mezcal, juice of grilled Sicilian lemons, Cherry Marnier and Bitters) which I would have ordered for myself had I known that the cherry would take a back seat - can't go wrong with a Mezcal cocktail at the moment.

Daisy Flower Martini

Dry Cherry Ilegal

More beautifully presented drinks at Communion Bar:

On top of the wonderful range of cocktails, there are quirky homemade infusions including Five Bark Bush & Herb African Gin, home made soft drinks such as Tibetan Snow Lotus (A type of fermented Keffir from Tibet topped with soda water) and a very respectable bottled beer list.  

Communion Bar really impressed me on all fronts, and this was on a night with no funk music - I will definitely have to return for the full experience.

After a fair few cocktails, we made our way upstairs and decided to grab some food to take back in to Stormbird.  The originally named Falafel next door came highly recommended so we popped in for some tasty £3 falafel wraps & £4.50 mezze boxes - great value and very filling.  Alternatively, you can head to FM Mangal which gets Jay Rayner's seal of approval.

Falafel from Falafel
After a few more excellent beers in Stormbird, we decided to have one last drink at the Sun of Camberwell, the local Antic establishment.  You can always rely on Antic for an atmospheric pub, but they are very inconsistent with their range of beer.  

The Sun of Camberwell is an awesome space, with the usual cosy sofas and lamps dotted around in a massive front room, and a good looking beer garden.  But they seriously let themselves down on the beer front - pick of a rum bunch, bottles of Affligem and one average Adnams ale didn't really cut it.  If they sorted that out, I would be here all the time.

That said, you can't go wrong with some Laphroaig and most won't be too bothered by the lack of interesting beers. I imagine Sunday Roasts are extremely popular here, as our their garden BBQ parties which will probably be fairly regular during the summer.

I enjoyed my wee dram and moved off into the streets of Camberwell to find my way home.  Oh, what's that - a bus from outside the pub to my door? Camberwell 1 East London 0.


Sunday 8th June - Just a quick mention for the rooftop screening of Austin Powers, organised by Press Play on the top of One New Change overlooking St.Paul's, that I went along to recently with Lauren.  After a promising immersive Kill Bill screening in Hoxton a couple of months ago, I was keen to see what Press Play would get up to on the roof.

After a funky ride in a bespoke lift / time machine, we emerged on to the rooftop where the majority of folks were in full 60s regalia.  There were free treats from Propercorn, champagne ice lollies from Pops and a Shaguar bar serving Anning's Mint & Pear Cider and Green & Pleasant Lager.  For the more adventurous, there were syringes of Austin Powers' mojo, and Fat Bastard stool sample cocktails served fresh from a toilet - two very nice touches to tie in with the film.

Best of all, Austin Powers himself (in a dodgy wig) was going round passing on his best moves to everyone before the film.  He then led the crowd in a massive dance in time to the opening credits sequence, some of which I captured on camera:

To see all of the photos from the event, check out my sets on Matt The Tumblr - Set 1 / Set 2 / Set 3, and if the film doesn't work, you can also find it here.

It was the perfect summer evening for it, with great sunset views over neighbouring St.Paul's and no need for the extra-warm hoodie in my bag.  The event was a huge success, and will definitely give the other rooftop cinema clubs who play it straight something to think about.  Austin Powers was an excellent choice, and the themed entertainment was cleverly done.  Fingers crossed they take on a few more rooftop projects before summer gives way.



Square Meal


  1. I'm considering moving to Camberwell, so this post is great! Next time you're there, hit up Silk Road for authentic Xinjiang Chinese cuisine - really tasty and unbelievable value (10 dumplings for £3).

    1. Hey Char, yeah Stormbird mentioned Silk Road was another good option for bringing in to their pub. Might have to do that next time.


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