Head Here If… Your dream shop involves cocktails in jars, original art and bikini-clad babes in the gents loos
Q: Take one musician slash ex-bar manager, add a screen printer slash photographer and what do you get?
A: A rather arty neighbourhood bar where all the cocktails are served in jars.
First Things First
Some pockets of London are so bang-on, you’d be forgiven for thinking they’re not already teeming with stylish bars. Take Kensal Rise for instance. More quietly self-assured about its coolness than neighbouring Notting Hill, affluent but less in-your-face opulent than Queen’s Park down the road, it’s a prime spot for a low-key, style-led local bar conceived with creative types in mind.
Luke Allen and Ben Magid have taken over a former wine bar on Chamberlayne Road and funked it up big time. Not in a blingy way – that wouldn’t work here; what they’ve cleverly done is gone for that elegant slumming feel, sourcing reclaimed furniture and fittings and mixing them up with bang-on-the-money modern art. Even better, if you like what you see, and we’re pretty sure you will, just hand over your credit card as everything in the bar is for sale.
The idea is for The Shop to be a real community spot, a place where locals can showcase their talents and wares. There might be cupcakes on sale one day and a vintage clothing, accessories and cocktail ware shopping evening the next, the one thing that will be consistent are the cocktails. Served in jars…
Before we start, let’s just say cocktails in jam jars are nothing new – Four Roses have been serving up their excellent bourbon libations this way for some time. However, cocktails in retro milk bottles, complete with a sealed gold cap and straw – now that’s embracing the whole jar theme and running away with it. Apparently, Luke, Ben and designer Dan Ainsworth sourced over 100 jars of varying shapes and sizes for ace barman Rikki Broderick to showcase his creative cocktails. Wise move. Not only do they look seriously stylish- we’ve worked out that they’re much more durable than regular glasses, so they’re cost effective, too. Result.
There’s something rather naughty about drinking cocktails from a milk bottle. It conjures up memories of break time at school. Ms S was never one for dairy but she is rather partial to the contents of this particular milk bottle containing the Once Loved (Kraken rum, Coco Lopez, pineapple juice and creme de Abricot). Bar manager Rikki adds the liquid assets to the bottle then caps it with The Shop’s specially embossed gold seals. A single straw is pierced through the top, scoring A+ for authenticity. The drink is pretty good too. Part Pina Colada, part Painkiller, it’s heavy on the rum, so sip it very, very slowly.
If ever Mr G needed a reminder as to why he always tries a Dry Martini when he visits a new venue (and he doesn’t actually) then this is it. There isn’t a martini on the menu and there isn’t a regular cocktail glass in sight, but Rikki is unfazed and proceeds to prepare the drink in text book style. The only difference is that he serves it up in tall, thin jar. And it works. It looks good and it tastes good. Job done.
Ms S goes for the Shop Assistant (El Jimador 100% agave tequila, fresh lime, honey and raspberries topped with a dash of lager) and would very happily do so again, it’s fruity and refreshing with a delicious, very moreish hit of tequila. The lager sounds weird but works exceptionally well to lengthen and harmonise the drink. Highly recommended.
The Half Price (Flor de Cana White Rum, fresh lime juice, Aperol and passion fruit syrup) sounds good to Mr G. It turns out to look good as well – the blood orange colour in the jam jar making for a funky marmalade kind of feel. Maybe it’s the power of suggestion but there’s also marmalade kind of taste too. On the strong side and really refreshing, it makes a lovely summer alternative to the Mojito.
And To Eat?
The food offering is evolving but expect simple sharing platters and honest to goodness British produce including pork pies, cheeses and pints of prawns.
Look Out For
On the drinks front check out the Pick and Mix Mary with freshly made Virgin Mary served in a milk bottle with mini jam jars of tequila, vodka or gin to mix at your table. Also, take a peek in the men’s loos at the bikini-clad babe wallpaper (and before you ask, the women’s loos are decked out in stylish graffiti).
What’s The Damage?
Local bar prices: £6-£6.50 for most cocktails, with the generously sized cocktails in milk bottles coming in at £8 and £9.
Ms S says
The arty hotch-potch thing Luke and Ben have got going on here really appeals to my inner hippy. It works well for mid-afternoon drinks, just chilling and taking in the art and perfect in the evening when it takes on a funkier, clubby feel. A nice hanging out place with a creative community spirit. Plus the cocktails are pretty damned good…
Mr G says
The balance is bang on between an original, inspired venue and tip-top drinks. Will definitely be heading back for some of the events and another dry martini in a jar experience.
The Shop, 75 Chamberlayne Road, NW10 3ND. T: 020 8969 9399. theshopnw10.com
Open Mon-Thurs 5pm-12am; Fri-Sun 12pm-12am.