Tuesday, October 9, 2012

98 Bar and Lounge, 8th October

I have actually been here once before but for reasons I am about to reveal, did not consider it ‘crossed off’ the list. We ended up here the first time by accident. I had secured a free place at a Bombay Sapphire-sponsored event round the corner but by the time we arrived they were full. To make up for this they gave us two tokens and told us we could redeem them at a place called 98 Bar and Lounge around the corner on Curtain Road, for two gin and tonics. So we duly did this, almost missing the awning which is the only sign that this bar exists. It is sub-ground level so you need to keep your eyes peeled and look out for the signage, otherwise it is very easy to miss. We went down the little ornate iron staircase (slightly treacherous when wet, or you’re drunk, or these two should happen to coincide) and entered. The staff had not yet been made aware of the deal that we were trying to avail ourselves of, and looked a little puzzled when we handed over our tokens, but some phone calls were made and they happily made us the free drink we’d been given.

The place wasn’t busy by any means, it was a Wednesday night I think, but it got busier as other people who had turned up too late to get in at the other place also made their way around. We managed to get a seat on one of the loveseats in the corner to sip our drink. I loveed the place. I think it can best be described as ‘fabulous’. It is one of the quirkier bars I’ve been to. It is simultaneously luxuriously and decadently kitted out, but also kooky and kitsch. There is a grandeur within the ornate furniture, the lampshades of pillowy white feathers, the baby grand piano that makes you feel you’ve stepped into a rich eccentric’s parlour. A viscount’s estate with a 20s twist. But the sweets in jars and little rubber ducks that festoon the walls make you also feel like you’ve stepped into a child’s fantasy playroom. It’s an odd combination but, to my mind, totally works.

We stayed for only one drink, a drink not of 98 Bar and Lounge’s creation. Therefore I did not feel I had truly experienced what the bar was all about. I could not cross it off the List.

But last night we went back and did sample a 98 Bar and Lounge concoction. As you may know, it is London Cocktail Week and bars all over London are offering a signature cocktail, or one created especially for the occasion, for £4 to wristband holders. We were such wristband holders, and 98 was one such bar. So we popped in for a drink before we headed to Beard to Tail for our dinner (they are opposite each other). The cocktail on offer was called the Gentleman’s Jamjar. It was an apricot-inspired drink, with real chunks of apricot in it, it had a whiskey base I believe and was topped off with nutmeg. That nutmeg made all the difference, elevating it from just a nice fruity cocktail to something different. Really scrummy. And then, a huge bowl of warm, salted popcorn was brought over. Yes, we were eating dinner directly afterwards, but we still polished it off. I thought it was a lovely little extra touch. Normally they don’t open on Mondays, but, they told us, they had opened because of Cocktail Week, however, we were the only ones in the entire place! Admittedly, it was early, and I hope that when the Cocktail Week bus made its way to Shoreditch it brought with it some more customers. I do get the feeling that this is one of the lesser known bars in Shoreditch - it certainly doesn’t shout out its presence, but it is a gem and I will definitely be going back again.  

Square Meal

Find the bar information on Zomato

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I work as an editor in educational publishing by day, and then spend most of my spare time discovering interesting things to do in London, and taking people there with my own Meetup.