To celebrate five years of prohibition partying, successfully undetected by the local authorities (though I’ve heard there’s been some close calls), Uncle Barts authorised the refurbishment of his beloved bar (or rather B&B – wink, wink). Working throughout the night to avoid rousing suspicion, Uncle Barts’ team proudly unveiled the new look in a raucous party which, according to rumours circulating Chelsea Cloisters, lasted a fortnight.
The already elegant salon has been spruced up with chintz wallpaper, antique mirrors, leather banquettes and taxidermy forest animals (mementos, so I’ve been reliably informed, of Uncle Barts’ hunting excursion in Hampshire). The vintage fancy dress trunk has been generously replenished for those who wish to go incognito or merely desire donning a wig. Don’t be alarmed if you discover the bartender wearing a shoulder holster – you never know when there will be a raid.
The old favourites are still on offer, served up in the same eccentric vessels that can only be found at Barts : share a Top Hat (£90), Gramophone (£90) or a Teapot (£55) overflowing with cocktails that do the Charleston on your taste buds. The Hibiscus-infused Tanqueray Malacca gin, with apple juice, fresh lime and gomme syrup is presented behind a smokescreen encased in a Chinese Lantern. Utterly delicious, you can barely taste the booze, but boy do you feel the kick!
Enter into character, maybe dropping in a few Raymond Chandler quotes (but don’t overdo it with the Chicago accent!). It’s all in the name of good honest fun, so make use of the fancy dress box whilst you soak up the scene – and more importantly the delicious cocktails on offer. Start with a couple of “Relaxing Pearlages” (Moët & Chandon NV Brut champagne, camomile and cardamom). Celebratory and effervescent they set you up nicely for a Top Hat or Tea Pot which will turn the city girl into a 20s flapper and the Barclay’s boy into Frank Sinatra. Stumble out through the cloisters, kiss passionately and fling yourself into the nearest taxi – solo or together is up to you.
You need to go when it’s bustling to really soak up the speakeasy scene: Thursday – Saturday is when things start to heat up.
3. There’s something so sexy about a life of crime.