How do you build on and expand a successful bar, without it becoming either a pastiche of its original self, or worse, a chain?
I finally went to Cuba last year, after talking about it for what felt like most of my adult life. What a place. The combination of people, music and architecture managed to exceed my very high expectations. Even the food was surprisingly good. Another surprise was that Cuba unearthed my taste for rum.
There was a time, not too long ago, when you didn’t go to East London pubs. Earthy, or ‘rough and ready’, is how they might euphemistically have been described. Outright violent is another way, especially the further out from London you got.
Quality cocktail bars continue to take the London by storm, but typically they’re located in Shoreditch, Hoxton or Soho, or atop of one of the new skyscrapers. There tends to be a diminishing return on quality the closer their proximity to the heart The City. The Old Bengal Bar bucks that trend and some.
The City’s appetite for new bars shows few signs of slowing down. The latest to set up shop is the Factory House in Lime Street, just next to Leadenhall Market. Capitalising on the worker chic movement as made fashionable by Danny Boyle at the Olympic opening ceremony, the Factory House aims to celebrate the age of the modern industrialists.
When I was 10, I took my first trip to the Jack Daniel's Distillery in Lynchburg, Tennessee. By the time I was 16, I'd rediscovered Mr Jack, and made my second trip.
The first time I visited Scandinavia (Stockholm, as it happens) I was struck by three things. First, how tall, blonde and attractive the people were. Second, how they liked to sunbathe at every opportunity, regardless of location (ring roads, office car parks, you name it). And third, how incredibly drunk they liked to get on Wednesdays.
Whoa, we might just need to rethink our image of Reader's Digest with their recent article, The Greatest Drinking Establishments in the World.
Last week, the Office of National Statistics reported that British women in white collar jobs drink 11.2 units of alcohol a week. That's almost double what our blue collar counter-parts are drinking. Apparently there’s more drinking than sex in the city.
If you’re looking for the next new thing why not try something new - that’s old? Elegantly coming to life around town are the step-back-in-time cocktail bars, giving us taste of times gone by in the midst of London's trendiest quarters.