Words by Simon Difford on 21-Jul-2015
13 Well Court, (off Bow Lane), London, EC4M 9DN, United Kingdom
Tel: +44 (0)20 7332 0044
Website: View bar's website
Hours: Mon-Fri noon-midnight, Sat 4pm-midnight, Sun closed
Door: Open door
Style: Lounge bar
Recommended for: Cocktails, Spirits
Price guide: Middling
Food: Plates & dishes
This excellent subterranean lounge bar is hidden away at the end of a cobbled passageway which lies off Bow Lane, famous for the historic St Mary-le-Bow church at the top of the narrow street. To be a true Cockney, a Londoner must be born within the sound of this church's bells.
Inspired by the British Empire, the Merchant House is a celebration of gin and rum with an impressive range of both spirits stretching to rare old bottlings as well as brand new releases. Fittingly, both gin and rum also dominate the cocktail menu with the bar's latest libations aptly named Empire references.
Merchant House is entered via was is best described as a spirits boutique with stairs down to the basement bar lying to the right as you enter the shop. Chesterfield style green leather banquets line the walls with small round tables and vintage dining chairs opposite. These combined with bottle laden China cabinets, dark polished wood, floor rugs and black and white photos lining the walls give this low ceilinged basement something of a granny's living room feel - a very hospitable granny who likes her gin.
A very talented local pops by most evenings to play the upright piano opposite the bar with a jazz band regularly appearing on Tuesdays.
Those wanting to learn more about gin and rum should consider joining The Connoisseurs' Collective, a membership club operated by the bar giving members access to tastings and masterclasses.