May 11, 2018
Located in the heart of Chinatown, behind an anonymous jade door, Opium as the name suggests – is styled after a Shanghai opium den.
The brainchild of Eric Yu and Dre Masso, there’s something intriguingly clandestine about the experience; to reach the bar you ascend the stairs to a series of low-lit and atmospheric rooms.
The décor is decidedly vintage, with lots of inviting armchairs and fringed lamps, and the air thick with incense.
The main bar contains a large central island where bartenders and punters intermingle and cocktail classes will be held.
The short list of in-house drinks blends Asian and Western flavours to inventive effect; the Double Bubble is a kind of boozy bubble tea blending Chivas with orange blossom and tapioca balls.
We also liked the Way of the Dragon, made with bourbon, vermouth, fig jam, and black tea syrup.
Most drinks are served with a dash of theatre by the friendly silk-dressed hostesses, though the jury’s still out on the childproof Calpol-style ‘Chinese medicine’ bottles some of them are served in.
They offer a menu of dim sum (there are better dumplings to be had in London for sure, but these are decent enough) and other Chinese goodies which come care of Dumpling’s Legends below.
There are some teething problems to be ironed out it was pretty chilly on the night we went and the prices are steep, especially given the proximity of venues like the Experimental Cocktail Club, but the ambition of the operation is clear and there are plans to grow the venue further.