Words by Ian Cameron on 09-Oct-2013
153 Upper Street, London, N1 1RA, United Kingdom
Tel: +44 (0) 20 7226 1375
Website: Not supplied
Hours: Mon-Wed: 12pm-12am, Thurs: 12pm-2am, Fri: 12pm-3am, Sat: 10am-3am, Sun: 10am-11pm
Door: Open door
Style: Cocktail bar
Recommended for: Cocktails
Price guide: Middling
Food: Full menu
Islington's Upper Street has long been credited as a foodie's paradise, but it's only recently that the standard of drinks available in the area has begun to improve. On the former site of Grand Union's Islington outpost, this cocktail bar and restaurant is now decked out like something from an Agatha Christie novel, successfully blending colonial exotica with Art Deco styling and a generous serving of Orient Express - the entrance corridor is fashioned like a luxurious train carriage, complete with hanging straps and luggage racks. A restaurant takes up the front of the venue: the cocktail bar is towards the rear, fashioned like a Victorian parlour with plush velvet seating and potted palms.
An embossed, leather-bound menu contains a list of classically inspired, often amusingly named (though somewhat incongruously), original cocktails. The choice is largely focused on rum, though there's a wide variety of styles and flavours, from a daily changing Swizzle to a house Grog, an overproof-based Tingray, a rum Sazerac and even sparkling serves (ranging from £8.50-£9.00). Don't like rum? There are plenty of other full-flavoured cocktails based on other popular colonial spirit bases: whisky, Benedictine and stout meet in the smoky Scarab's Toddy; the Chipotle of the Old Block is a spicy take on a gin sour. Everything we tried came balanced, beautiful and with good banter.