Powder Keg Diplomacy

Address: 147 St John's Hill, London, SW11 1TQ , United Kingdom
Tel: +44 (0)207 450 6457
Website: view Powder Keg Diplomacy’s website
Door: Make reservation
Style: Cocktail bar
Food: Bar Snacks


In New York, you can often find a kick-ass cocktail bar even if you're in a neighbourhood that's away from Manhattan. Think Weather Up in Prospect Heights, Clover Club in Carroll Gardens or Dutch Kills in Long Island City. London's cocktail scene, by contrast, is firmly centred on zone one, and sometimes it's more of a struggle to find one that knows one end of a shaker from the other.

This shrine to Victoriana (a mixture of car boot sale chic and contrived interior designed quirkyness) definitely knows what it's doing. It's goodbye local Tandoori and hello mixology in this sister to Clapham and Battersea sister bars the Lost Angel and Lost Society.

Friendly staff in braces and (really!) top hats are welcoming and clearly in charge of their domain. A quick look at the back-bar reveals a complete absence of usual suspects and a choice that's deliberately designed to engage people. They're all about British ingredients here, led by a large list of punches. Our starting point for some of these was a feeling of worry that these were over ambitious - even 'courageous' - combinations. Actually we found they produced well-balanced, though complicated drinks. Take Granddad's Allotment, it contains Plymouth Gin, Sam Brooks Powerhouse Porter, cloudy apple juice, pear jam, rosemary jelly, and black treacle with a caramelised rhubarb garnish. Or the Martini Henry Rifle (Whitely Neil Boabab Gin, Royal Ceylon Gunpowder vermouth, Eucalyptus bitters and maple sugar.) There's a lot going on there, but they seem to get away with it very nicely. A Daiquiri was successfully twisted with the inclusion of Californian port (called 'Starboard' to get around Port's protected appellation).

A massive beer list further marks this bar's difference, not just from local rivals but from those further afield who would profess to be beer specialists, such is the range. A good Scotch Egg and a pint of prawns are good proxies for wider food quality though we didn't eat a full meal. If we had, we probably would have sat in the pleasant conservatory rather than at the bar.