Open Mon–Wed 4pm–11pm, Thu–Fri 2pm–11pm, Sat midday–11pm, Sun midday–8pm
I quite like cocktails, especially if they are at some subtly high-end establishment that I can’t really afford and I’ve managed to bag myself a quiet corner and a small table, sipping on a martini, secretly pretending to be James Bond while spying on (‘people watching’) the crowd. Fun, right? So, you might ask, where should I go to spend half of next month’s rent on tomorrow’s hangover? How about…
Knightsbridge. Home to a few of the capital’s most revered institutions, like Harrods and large scale tax avoidance, you will find—nestled between a lot of off-shore bank vaults thinly disguised as luxury flats—another of London’s famed venues, Harvey Nichols.
Like Harrods and its cut-price cousin, Selfridges, Harvey Nichols is a giant lung, a place that inhales cash and exhales extravagance, a place where every tag might as well say “why do you care what this says, are you poor?” instead of a price.
That said, Harvey Nichols is not just a place for incredibly expensive fashion and contouring counters, it’s also got a decent bar upstairs. The famed ‘Fifth Floor’ even offers cocktail making classes (these classes start at 9am, which is quite punchy).
Despite having this perfectly respectable cocktail bar to begin with, Harvey Nichols have also leased out some spare space to Archer Street—the well-known cocktail bar on the road of the same name in Soho—who have installed a little pop-up offering their signature blend of expertly mixed drinks combined with live singing performances.
Normally, the thought of live music and alcohol would make you think of being pelted in watered-down lager as you tried to edge a bit closer to the stage at a very packed Brixton Academy. But as Archer Street don’t sell lager in plastic cups and the songs are sung by the staff, the only thing it does have in common with a gig is that it is very crowded. In fact, you may well end up waiting quite a long time to get served.
Considering that you probably spent a load of your bank’s money (at 24% APR) on a jacket downstairs beforehand, the wait to get drunk may be too much. Though arguably the cocktails, when they eventually arrive, may soften both blows considerably, as they are rather good.
But live singing performances and big crowds? The result is predictably chaotic and probably best enjoyed in large groups, or by your mum and her best friend who are looking for something to do after coming up to town to see Wicked for the seventeenth time. I found it a bit of a car crash—and not the good type involving a fleet of Foxtons minis and the Black Eyed Peas tour bus—it was too loud, too busy and I’d rather be pretending I was James Bond. Mainly because James Bond never had to wait over twenty minutes to be served.
Of course, if you like that sort of thing you, your mum and her best friend will probably love it.