Open Mon–Fri midday–3pm; Sat–Sun midday 3.30pm; 6pm–midnight daily
Hidden below the award-winning Brompton Bar & Grill is the newly opened, and what’s more, London’s first absinthe bar. Leather bar stools and banquettes, a zinc-topped bar, round tables and low-lighting create an elegant, intimate space. Walls are adorned with modern art and Parisian sketches harking back to the days when absinthe was the drink of choice among bohemians such as Oscar Wilde, Vincent van Gogh and Toulouse-Lautrec. With a piano in the corner and plans afoot for jazz musicians to perform once a month, the bar also has the feel of a ‘50s Manhattan jazz club.
We got chatting to two trust fund, designer-clad, 20-something ladies who weren’t sure whether to give up work altogether as it was getting in the way of partying.
Despite its 19th century heritage, the absinthe served at this bar has plenty of contemporary cocktail choices. The back page of the cocktail list got us excited. We kicked off with a unique and heady twist of the classic Bellini (£9.50) before moving onto the absinthe daiquiri (£8.50) – one of the strongest drinks I’ve ever tasted but still rich in flavour as well as beautifully presented. Clearly a lot of thought has gone into the menu as absinthe isn’t overpowering in any of the cocktails we tried – we managed to get through a fair amount, even braving the delightfully cool and refreshing Morning Glory Fizz (£8.50), composed of whisky, Absinthe La Clandestine, egg white, Angostura bitters and soda – which was originally considered a breakfast drink!
Absintheurs can also enjoy their absinthe served traditionally with an ice water glass fountain. With slow drips, the water pours into the absinthe and creates the perfect louche (clouding effect). There are also classic absinthe cocktails including Hemingway’s favourite tipple, Death in the Afternoon (£9), a daring fusion of Champagne and Absinthe Angélique. Admittedly, we felt like death the next morning…