love and liquor
'The cocktails were rather good... The best Caipirinha I've ever had'

Love & Liquor

Open Fri 8pm–2am; Sat 8pm–3am

The style:

We were led to the large VIP ‘cage’ at the end of the room by the charismatic owner, Clement (‘call me Clem’ – big grin) who insisted I describe his club as ‘sick!’ It had a rather speakeasy feel to it as we sank back into leather arm chairs and the sounds of light chatter and tinkling music floated over our candle-lit table. ‘Underground’ or ‘shabby-chic’ are apt terms to describe the décor, perhaps best exemplified by the chandeliers that were made out of sparkling gems and chicken wire. Lined with booths, the layout had the clever effect of making one feel involved in the party while sitting comfortably on the periphery. In other words, there is no pressure to hit up the dance floor prematurely. However, sister and I could not resist the DJ’s seamless move from speakeasy soul to alternative house/dance music as the room began to fill, and we found ourselves flapping away embarrassingly in the cage before we’d even had our second drink.

The crowd:

This somewhat hidden gem was filled with a range of bright young things, from hipsters and west London slickers to fashionistas and ghetto-fabulous divas. Yet Love & Liquor feels like a place people plan their night around, as opposed to just popping in on a whim (after all, if your name’s not down, you’re not coming in). Clem initiates a guest list policy that he hopes to open up to the general public once the club has established itself. It’s not The Westbury, that’s for sure.

The food:

You won’t find anything along those lines here I’m afraid. Although I must say, we were never wanting for paprika-flavoured popcorn… which was regularly re-supplied for us by the attentive, sexy waitress.

The drinks:

Pricey – a bottle of Prosecco was £27.50 with service charge, and cocktails around £7.50. However, Love & Liquor is certainly not a place where one grumbles openly about price and the cocktails were rather good. The best one was the Morango Caipirinha (£7.50), which was actually the best Caipirinha I’ve ever had; the often too-sweet cachaça balanced with sour strawberries and limes. I’d heard tales (one tale) of the Velvet Elvis (£7.50) so I ordered one of those, which was okay but a bit watery for my taste. Sister had a Hemingway Daiquiri (£7.50) which was delicious and strong. There was no denying the quality of the cocktails. However, if like me, you are averse to the taste of washing-up liquid and the texture of frothy egg-yokes, I advise you to steer clear of the ghastly White Lady (£7.50).

Personally, I would not plan my night around Love & Liquor. Perhaps if I had been one of the specially treated VIPs who were lounging around with Champagne, I would not fail to see the allure of a rather overpriced and pseudo-exclusive bar at the end of Kilburn High Road. But as it is, I do.

Love & Liquor, 34 Kilburn High Road, London, NW6;; 020 7625 7500

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