69 Colebrooke Row, Islington

  • DATE #94
  • Written by Harriet Chamberlain (Guest Author)
  • 5 years ago
The original speakeasy

The Vibe

You could easily walk past 69 Colebrooke Row or ‘the bar with no name’ without noticing it. Hidden on the corner of a dark alleyway, its windows are blacked out and it has no entrance sign or tell-tale smokers loitering outside it. Only faint light seeping through the bottom of its front door

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hints at life inside. Push this open and you’ll walk into a tiny space, suitable for twenty people at most, which looks halfway between a 1930s Parisian bar and a New York speakeasy. Black and white geometric floor tiles compliment monochrome art deco prints on the walls, a colour scheme interrupted by bright red seats. The room is lit up by vintage hanging lights, flickering candles and a film noir projection on the staircase. Attentive waiters buzz around in elegant white jackets, whilst a cheerful musician sits at a piano playing jazz and blues into the night.

The Order

The flavours of each cocktail are wonderfully vivid (thoughts of the scent obsessed protagonist from Patrick Süskind’s ‘Perfume’ might spring to mind) and they all look gorgeous. Order your date the Honeysuckle, champagne infused with a liqueur made from Transylvanian pollen, or the Apple and Hay Bellini which tastes like a weekend in the countryside. If you’re a fan of bitter cocktails, opt for the iridescent Gimlet which consists of rhubarb cordial mixed with gin and grapefruit. An unconventional option is the Prairie Oyster, tomato yolk and horseradish vodka served in a sculpted shell and consumed as though it were shellfish. All cocktails come in at just less than a tenner which is exceptionally good value.

The Game

Take any of the following and you are bound to impress; aesthetes, francophiles, North Londoners, film buffs, alcoholics and/or historians. Reservations are necessary because of the restricted seating options, so book a table for any time after 7pm and fit supper in around it. Meet your date outside the bar (should you be able to locate the entrance) for three minutes of obligatory small talk “this place is meant to be amazing..” before heading into the hobbit sized venue. Spend a couple of hours getting pleasantly drunk together, sharing cocktails and feeling smug about your discovery. To draw out the night head to the Screen on the Green afterwards, requesting the sofa in the back row for a bit of late night flirting…

The Faults

69 Colebrooke is almost faultless as a date venue. Any faults that hyper critical types may find will be related to its size; it’s hard to secure a table, easy to be overheard and it can heat up pretty quickly. It’s about a 10 minute walk from Angel station and a bus ride from Hackney, so the location might be off putting for those living south of the river.

Sex Factor

4. This place is for sophisticated, understated romance with just the right amount of sexiness (courtesy of the film noir element).

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