09 June 2014

The Bermondsey Arts Club: a New Art Deco Speakeasy for Bermondsey

After an afternoon of lazing by a sunny Sussex swimming pool for most of Saturday, when my friends and I arrived back at London Bridge on Saturday night, we were in need of something a little more refined. Luckily, the Bermondsey Arts Club has just opened on the site of a lovingly restored (and, one hopes, cleaned!) public toilet on the corner of Tower Bridge Road and Grange Road. Even better, the art deco cocktail joint is roughly equidistant between London Bridge and my house.

When we arrived, around 10 pm, the Bermondsey Arts Club wasn't especially full (I think there had been a private event earlier on), but there were enough other people there to give it a nice buzz. By the time we left, there were no free tables and the perching stools near the bar were also getting full. Technically, it's still in soft launch at the moment, but I'm hoping the word doesn't get out too quickly, as I rather like having a secret speakeasy at the end of my street, because I can't be in Manhattan all the time.

The d├ęcor is gorgeous: all monochrome chequered tiles, hexagonal stools and tables, and a lovely illuminated glass ceiling. The white tiled walls are original although I'm sure they've been thoroughly disinfected! It was pretty dark and I didn't have my DSLR with me, so please excuse the photo quality in this post.

The cocktail list and the day's specials were very tempting, but I'm a sucker for a) fruity gin-based cocktails and b) locally themed drinks, so I ordered the Bermondsey Gardens, which involves St Germain, Beefeater gin, lime, apple, cucumber and mint. It was delicious and extremely refreshing after a long day in the sunshine. I was slightly envious of my friends' Eau de Vie, which contained watermelon, citrus vodka and lychee. Also, they were pink.

For my second drink, I decided to go for something completely different: a Succubus, which was made with Maker's Mark, Peychaud's bitters, kumquat marmalade and blood orange. The combination of the bourbon and the interesting citrus flavours worked really well together. I'm trying to move out of my comfort zone cocktail-wise (i.e. not just ordering the gin with lime and/or raspberry drink every time) and I really enjoyed the Succubus.

Most of the cocktails are £9 or £10 and all of the ones we tried were very well mixed. There is also a great atmosphere in the bar, with cool but unobtrusive background music that doesn't rule out conversation. They are hosting live jazz on Wednesday evenings, with other entertainments to come. And did I mention how much I like the typography?

All in all, the Bermondsey Arts Club is a great addition to the neighbourhood and it's especially nice to see a bar like this opening up on the right side (my side, that is) of Bermondsey Street.

The Bermondsey Arts Club. 102A Tower Bridge Road, London, SE1 4TP (Tube: Borough or Bermondsey). Website. Twitter.

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