London-City and East London
- Drinking holes
- Great food
Apr 16, 2018
This hidden Hoxton speakeasy is subtly situated, under the stairs of French restaurant Petit Pois (owned by the same person, Alex Burgess), on Hoxton Square. A discreet location which protects the place from the rowdy swarms of trendy youngsters that have invaded nearby Shoreditch of late, and probably why the place has remained a bartender’s staple. The bar has stayed consistent over its many years, not fazed by flimsy trends, serving it up just how the pros like it; top notch yet fuss free, with an atmospheric, yet low-key, vibe.
It’s the subtle creativeness that has made the bar famous with mixologists and Londoners alike, taking well-known cocktails, and giving them a ‘Happiness’ twist. Everyone has their HF favourite; some order nothing but the Old Fashioned every time; “It’s just so good, I don’t even look at the menu”. Others adore the easy-drinking signature cocktail, the Purple Storm, a light rum highball, served with a thick rectangle of ice (a riff on the classic Dark & Stormy). More refined cocktail drinkers adore the boozy Jerezana, a classic-tasting menu staple (inspired by the retro Bamboo sherry cocktail), where the sweetness of the vermouth and vanilla syrup is nicely balanced with the dryness of the sherries.
These guys were one of the first to go with the speakeasy theme, keeping it simple with bare-brick walls behind the bar and deep purple walls. There’s no ‘forcing’ the theme, with cheesy gimmicks, like some copycat bars have done – it all feels very modest and natural.
The low-lit bar is fairly compact, yet holds a surprising number of people, with intimate two-person tables for dates and snug leather sofas at both ends of the bar for bigger groups. Then there’s the banter going on between the bar guys and locals up at the bar. It’s always busy in here, even on a usually slow Monday evening.
Word of the bar’s strong industry kudos might be off-putting to the average customer but we can assure you, this place is far from snobby with the main crowd being a mix of local regulars and normal people who fancy a nice cocktail before dinner. You get a warm welcome on arrival. The bartenders make relaxed chit-chat when they swing by to see how your drinks are. The cosy atmosphere the team create is matched well with the snug candlelight ambience. Immediately on entering, in true speakeasy style, you’ll want to lock in for the whole evening.