Zetter Townhouse, Clerkenwell
‘Ohmigod you must go there’, is what too many people said to me when I mentioned Zetter Townhouse. These were folks who described Hoxton Hotel as edgy and Sketch as reasonable, so I resisted. For a time. But Zetter, it turns out, is rather a gem. Imagine going to one of those darkened speakeasy style bars and not having to head down into a basement, not having to be lead through a bookcase, not having a nightmare finding it. It does what it says on the tin, in that it’s a bar in a townhouse, but the décor is just as out there as hipster joints further East. However, instead of embracing covert 1920s boozing, this place is all about extrovert Regency swilling. Think antique furnishings, taxidermy, lamps, statues, the works. The slightly older and trad clientele, mixed in with creative-corporate types, also lends the place an air of restraint. It’s more of a charming front room than sexy cocktail shack. Although you’re unlikely to heavy pet in here, you will drink at a steady pace, lock eyes across the miniature table and splurge emotional affirmations to your date.
Just drinks please, you’ve just eaten. This is the place of apothecary style cocktails – bitters, tinctures, cordials and herbal infusions. The luxury of such an old school place, with table service of course, is that you can see how well they make your cocktail. If it’s an Old Fashioned you drink, ask them to fix you one and see what you think. After a couple of rounds, get celebratory and ask for a couple of glasses of fizz. You whimsical devil.
Perhaps it’s to do with the formality of the place but Zetter works best as part two of the night. Start off somewhere casual and boisterous, like nearby pub The Slaughtered Lamb, or eat at the neighbouring Modern Pantry. Once full and boozed, head over to Zetter. Remember to book in advance to make sure it goes off without a hitch, 10pm will do. Drink away and refrain from kissing, building up the tension for later on. When it gets to the point where both of you are burning with desire, get the bill and demand that they drop you home. Make out in the taxi and then invite them in.
A tad formal.
It’s all pre-game but I’d give this a solid 5.