Yesterday evening it took me no less than one hour and twenty minutes to travel from my office in Portland Place to Bermondsey Street. Under usual, non-tube strike, circumstances, a half hour journey at most. After jumping off a bus that had been crawling down the Haymarket at a painfully slow pace and walking the rest of the way to Charing Cross, I was surprised to notice how few people were out in the bars and restaurants and how many people were racing in the direction of the bus stops and train stations. Perhaps the frustration of the tube strike had made them weary. It made me crave a strong drink.
For somebody with such a ‘boozy’ handle, I write surprisingly little about drinking. It’s not that I don’t do very much of it, quite far from it, it’s more that I never seem to be in the mindset to start taking photos and really think about what I’m consuming in terms of writing about it. It’s a shame as there is a great number of excellent watering holes in London worth writing about.
Take The Hide Bar, for example, the venue for last night’s bi-monthly cocktail club. Situated on Bermonsdey Street, it is close to central London, although we south east Londoners fiercely claim it for ourselves. It is the kind of bar you want to retreat to after a hard day: a hazily lit, beautifully decorated room with a combination of high tables and leather banquettes. They have a ‘seated only’ policy, so you never feel that you are having to push past crowds of people to get to the bar. Tres civilised.
The cocktail menu is extensive and mainly lists the classics and a few invented drinks – it is unlikely that you will find a double entendre here. They also have a good wine and beer list and sell a selection of bar snacks, should you start to feel the pitfalls of drinking on an empty stomach. Due to an early morning meeting, I limited myself to three cocktails, but here they are:
If there is a cocktail to trek across London on tube strike day for, this is it. A face-flushing combination of Bermondsey dry gin, China Martini aperitif, blood orange and cassia bitter tincture – all carbonated. It arrives in a little glass bottle with a stopper, ready to pour into a glass with two pieces of dehydrated blood orange. Do not be deceived into thinking this is a long drink, it has the strength of a martini. A good one to start you off.
The ‘Fine and Dandy’
One of my fellow drinkers, Elliw, and I came to a general consensus that all drinks are better when bitter, sour, strong and dry. No Pina Coladas at our table, then. The Fine and Dandy is a twist on the classic gin sour, but with bitters replacing the egg whites, so ticks a couple of those boxes. It is Plymouth gin, cointreau, lemon and Angustoura bitters. It hits those tastebuds right in the corners of your jaw.
The London Cocktail
In a bit of a shift from the gin-based drinks, I opted for a whisky based cocktail, purely based on its name. Not my favourite, but delicious all the same. It’s creamier than the others with an ingredients list of Rittenhouse rye whiskey, orange flower water, orgeat, egg and nutmeg. A bit of a bedtime drink.
The Hide Bar, 39-45 Bermondsey Street, London SE1 3XF