45 Bridlesmith Gate, Nottingham
Tel: +44 (0)7825 889370
Website: View bar's website
Hours: 8pm til late
Door: Go early
Recommended for: Cocktails
Price guide: Middling
Food: No food
Owned by: Mandarin House Tr. Co. Ltd.
Images By: diffordsguide.com
What's this? A club masquerading as a cocktail bar? Actually it's both, which is something you don't come across very often - at least done well. Come early and it's definitely more of a cocktail bar, though becomes more of a party as the night progresses. At all stages the drinks standards are high. Not behind the bar of your regular club would you find house-infused spirits, tequilas meant for sipping or bartenders doing something more creative than churning out vodka Red Bulls even when it's four deep at the bar.
The venue is something of a rabbit warren, all darkly lit and decorated like an Eastern opium den - somewhat reminiscent of New York's Macao Trading Company - with two large bars arranged around a centrepiece glass dance floor. In addition, there's a brilliantly disguised secret entrance - among the best we've seen - to a hidden speakeasy, with a blackboard of specials in addition to the regular menu (though the plan is to focus on Prohibition drinks here) and even a newspaper from the day Prohibition came into force in a locked display case.
Now, that menu. Admittedly, many of the cocktails are on the sweet side. Your teeth hurt just thinking about the Krispy Kreme, Haribo Rocks, Parma Violets or Toblerone. But this is largely a young, student crowd and at least this way they might graduate to the more mature, less creamy, stiffer classic cocktails on the list more than if they were starting out on spirits/mixers. All our drinks - from Krispy Kreme to Manhattan - were well-made, and carefully. A decent spirits list across the board helps us give this a score of 4/5.