Friday 13th March - Everyone in my flat is a Pisces through and through, so March is always a ludicrously busy month. With April in sight, it's time for me to catch up on many an outing, and what better evening to start with than Matt The Birthday?
The Bottle Shop arrived in Bermondsey last year, a few arches down from the Anspach & Hobday brewery on Druid Street. At first, they opened up only on Saturday afternoons with their weird and wonderful range of bottles and a couple of taps on offer. Now they have 12 wonderful beers on tap every weekend, with frequent tap takeovers and special events, and they have seriously extended their opening hours:
The Bottle Shop in Bermondsey : 11am-7pm every Saturday // 12pm-6pm every Sunday
But that's not all. Bottle Shop Ben and Bullfinch Ryan have now started The Bottle Shop Popup, taking over London's underused coffee shop spaces in the evenings. After a successful trial stint at Love & Scandal, they have settled down in Leather Lane's Department of Coffee and Social Affairs, opening up every Friday night from 5pm.
We dropped in for a few post-work birthday beers, working our way through four interesting brews on tap including To Øl's 15% Yule Maelk and Ryan's own Bullfinch Rascal Pale Ale, before moving on to cans of Beavertown Bloody 'Ell Blood Orange IPA and bottles of the glorious Drie Fonteinen Oude Geuze.
It's a lovely, relaxed space to drink and chat after work, providing a great alternative to heaving Friday night pubs. London is in dire need of this kind of establishment, ideally open past midnight, for those of us capable of staying awake without resorting to binge drinking. Surely it's time for something inbetween Vingt Quatre and Duck and Waffle? Coffee shops are the key I feel, with sites all over the city sitting idle after 6pm. Hopefully The Bottle Shop Popup is just the beginning...
Also on my beer radar...
- UBrew - open brewery and taproom in Bermondsey round the corner from The Bottle Shop
- Beer Hive - cooperative brewery and taproom in Brixton from London Beer Lab & Clarkshaws
- The Beer Shop - a small, friendly micro-pub in Nunhead with great beers on rotation
After a couple of hours with The Bottle Shop gents, we made our way over to Soho to check out Milroy's whisky shop which has recently reopened under new independent ownership. This is no ordinary shop though. The ground floor is now home to Milroy's Bar, a twelve seater bar with 250 whiskies from all over the world at its disposal. Leave your inebriated friends at the door, this is a whisky library that needs to be treated with respect.
An academic, fresh faced music grad kept the drinks coming inbetween attempts at stapling together a new menu. Affordable drams from Lagavulin, Arran, Auchentoshan and more made their way around the table. A generous pour of Ardbeg Uigedail (£53.45 for 70cl at Whisky Exchange) was miraculously under £5! Tasting flights are available, and regulars can store a bottle away in a whisky locker. What's not to love?
But wait - there's more. What's this at the end of the room? Since when do bookshelves have door handles? Assuming it's not already open (which "secret entrances" so often are), give it a push, and make your way down to The Vault, a sexy subterranean "speakeasy" from Martyn "Simo" Simpson (previously at Coal Vaults).
It gets busy down there, so I would pop your head in early to make yourselves known, before going back upstairs for a dram or two. Once you are in though, try and get yourself a seat at the bar, it's always more fun. £9.50 boozy cocktails are not too pricey given the location and the atmosphere. Four in a row on the menu got our attention straight away:
Estilo Viejo - Anejo Tequila, Tomato Water, Creole shrub, Chamomile & Chocolate Bitters
Mezcalito - Mezcal, Reposado, Grapefruit, Lime, Maraschino, Agave, Black Sea Salt with Blood Orange Ice Cube
The Smoking Gun - Straight Corn Whisky, Oloroso Sherry, Earl Grey, Brown Sugar, Smoked
Di Barrel - Cherry Wood Infused Bourbon, Dry Vermouth, Amer Picon, Maraschino, Barrels Bitters, with Chartreuse Sugar Shard
And there's plenty else of interest on the menu too featuring in-house infusions such as Volcano Flower-infused Vodka, Blueberry-infused Gin and House Spiced Rum. The strong cocktails hit the spot, the service was entertaining and the atmosphere was buzzier than most Soho bars manage. What they really need though is a slightly later license, as the party was just getting started when we had to move on at 11.30. In the meantime, get in early and make the most of it!
Last and definitely least, on account of The Vault closing far too early, we crawled the short distance to New Evaristo Club, a wonderfully terrible Soho dive bar down a shabby white corridor at 57 Greek Street. Sweet talk Nabil on the door to enter this "member's club" or chuck a couple of quid his way, get a round of Peronis in, and you're away. You'll be dancing with Nabil in a hour or two, so be friendly.
|Photo from Design My Night|
I could say more, but there's no need really. Instead, enjoy this extract from Cool Bars for Uncool People:
"The bars on this blog often have this sort of cultivated illicit charm, they’re hidden, but being hidden was always sort of part of the plan for them. All of them feature reasonably secluded entrances, a lack of fanfare and yet surprisingly superlative settings. Not so the New Evaristo Club, which looks like a particularly terrifying brothel in an Eastern European country that’s only just getting Westlife.
"All the other bars seem to have the ‘hidden entrance’ vibe so that Time Out will gush praise upon this ‘hidden nook’ seven years after it opened. The New Evaristo Club, however, seems to have done it because customers are nothing more than a real hindrance to the business of getting melted in a basement.
"Anyway, the New Evaristo Club is grotty, hilarious, dark (in all senses of the word) and is thoroughly difficult to find. It's a bit like spending Christmas with your Grandad; once you get past the right-wing tendencies and gruffness, it's actually alright. (Plus there’s a constant sort of unpleasant smell to it)."
Click here for the amusing full article.
Snap The List - I may be a bit behind on the writing but I'm thankfully on top of all the photo editing. For all the latest photos from my adventures, head to www.mattthelist.tumblr.com to see pics from all sorts of trips and hangouts including The Glenrothes Distillery, Flour To The People, Queenswood, Ceviche, Mr.Fogg's Tipsy Tea Party, 5CC at The Singer Tavern, and LCC Islington. In general, my Tumblr, Facebook and Instagram are your best bets for getting the very latest London news before lengthier accounts appear here.