Open Sun–Thu 6pm–1.30am, Fri and Sat 5pm–2.30am (monthly 4.30am parties)
Owned by celebrity couple Lee Chapman and Leslie Ash, JuJu makes the bold claim of being King’s Road’s top Champagne and cocktail bar. Yet this glitzy Chelsea venue has an empty, slightly uncomfortable vibe early evening – but as the clock strikes 11pm it bursts into life as the local socialites flock towards the chic late-night lounge in their droves.
It has a dark, slinky look; its black interior sprinkled with glamorous gold features and mirrored ceilings. The low-lit secluded tables suit small gatherings and intimate late-night rendezvous. Downstairs plays host to private parties and events while the buzzy upstairs area sets the scene for a cocktail-infused night of indulgence.
With a glamorous glow, this is the kind of showy bar that attracts the city boys celebrating their latest bonuses with harems of attractive women surrounding their bottle-clad tables. It is a fantastic people-watching spot. On our Saturday night visit we were clearly the least exotic specimens on show. Surrounded by attractive Italian and Latino ladies sipping Martinis and nibbling on the pan-Asian dishes while surveying the talent; JuJu is a place to see and be seen.
On first appearance the menu looked delicious. My friend Mark and I jumped towards the skewered tiger prawns with sesame and peanut chilli sauce (£9). The most expensive of the pan-Asian tapas dishes on offer, they were by far the biggest disappointment; a meagre portion of unimpressive prawns drowned in a sticky, bland gloop. The crispy mango prawns (£9) on the other hand were pleasantly awakened by the homemade chilli mango sauce. The steamed dumplings (£7.50) were also tasty but overpriced and uninspiring. They, too, needed a punchy dipping sauce to inject some flavour and interest. The green Thai curry (£10.99 with rice) projected good flavours with a spicy kick, but the chicken was not tender enough with many pieces including tasteless, chewy skin and even the odd bit of gristle. The unimpressive food may be the reason why the bar only heats up late evening.
However… It only took one sip of our cocktails to unravel our confusion over JuJu winning Best New Bar. This is what JuJu does best; unique and innovative cocktails with a JuJu twist.
Over half the cocktails on offer are exclusive JuJu creations. My Passion Fruit Martini (£9) was perfect; sweet yet tangy with a sublime creamy texture. No sooner had I convinced myself I had indulged enough and I would find myself having just one more sip – totally addictive. Mark ordered the daringly named Sledge Hammer (£9) – a simple but delicious combination of Champagne and toffee vodka served in an elegantly petite glass (just as well given the overpowering sweetness). They also have a decent wine menu with glasses from £5.80. I thoroughly enjoyed my chilled glass of Cloudy Bay Sauvignon (£8.50) which was delicately fruity and fresh. The Champagne menu looked promising with a good selection of bottles starting at £70 and then rapidly working its way up to an extra zero on the price tag.
In the cold light of day JuJu can seem a little brash and tatty around the edges and the food is certainly not on par with many of its neighbours. But as the night draws in this Chelsea bar is a hotspot for mingling over a delicious cocktail or two… Or three.