Lounge Bohemia, Shoreditch | The New London Cocktail Review
Lounge Bohemia, Shoreditch ~ The New London Cocktail Review

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Lounge Bohemia, Shoreditch

Lounge Bohemia
1 Great Eastern Street

Kina Lillet

"It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents--except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness."

--Edward George Bulwer-Lytton, Paul Clifford (1830)

If Lounge Bohemia were a sentence, not a bar, it'd be in with a prize-winning shot at the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Prize for rubbish writing. Like Bulwer-Lytton’s original line, Lounge Bohemia is atmospheric but overblown. I’d like to be drawn in, to be captivated by Paul Tvaroh’s establishment and by his cocktails, naturally, but while the ambience is just right and the menu-cum-book is a nicely observed detail, the drinks are all smoke and mirrors. I hate to resort to such a tawdry metaphor, but given that Lounge Bohemia is more concerned with process than pleasure, I feel less guilty for poo-pooing the watering hole of this would-be wizard of booze.

I telephone to make an appointment, for an appointment is necessary. The conversation proceeds as expected, but before replacing the receiver, I am informed that neither suits nor office wear are permitted at this bar. Given that most everyone I know, even the dickhead, creative media types, work in an office, I wonder whether my cashmere and leather constitutes “office wear”.

I meet Margie Rita and we fearlessly order round one. Margie opts for the Lavender Crème Brûlée, a drink one of my new flatmates described to me as being like, “an orgasm in a glass”... The LCB is delicious. It tastes like a lavender-flavoured crème brûlée. So far, so good. At the recommendation of our delightful hostess, I’ve ordered the bar’s signature drink: the Sgt. Pepper. With black pepper vodka, elderflower liqueur and cordial and lemon juice, it tastes neither like black pepper nor like elderflower, but rather bizarrely like freshly-squeezed grapefruit juice.

Next Margie orders a Kaid Sling, which is probably supposed to taste like an adults-only Shirley Temple, but instead comes across all sickly sweet and bubble gum. My Holy Smoke is “leather infused Courvoisier VSOP Exclusif, frankincense and myrrh smoke”. The drink arrives in a small flask nesting in a Czech bible.  There’s an upturned glass resting on a tray. I’m instructed to turn the smoke-filled glass over and pour in the Courvoisier. It smells like a priest and tastes like sin. Actually, it tastes of a passable single malt, but who cares.

Our last drinks are the most bizarre: a Porcini-tini and a Bubble Bath Martini. Do porcini mushrooms, vodka, crème de cacao, condensed milk and salt sound like a match made in heaven? This is Tvaroh at his most Blumenthal-esque and I don’t like The Fat Duck either.

The BBM was a blend of lychee liqueur, lavender and poppy seed vodka, with lychee, lavender and rose bubbles. Frankly, it was revolting: like soapy, liquidised turkish delight.  Its only redeeming feature was a hilarious miniature rubber ducky face down in this undrinkable drink.

I later find out that Tvaroh is teetotal and doesn’t drink a lick of booze. How utterly baffling. Why on earth would a man who doesn’t drink alcohol open a bar? It certainly helps to solve the puzzle of this place, though: the drinks at Lounge Bohemia taste like they were created by someone who likes neither cocktails nor the people who like to drink them.

Avoid the magic tricks. Find a bar that likes people who like to drink.

1 comment:

  1. I was asked/ told to take off my tie when going into Shoreditch House by one of the bouncers. Later the manager came and apologised, apparently this rule was applies to city types but not to people in second-hand clothes. Utter bloody nonsense. When I open a bar, the door policy will be if you have money and like booze, you're in.