Head Here If… You like your cocktails with a Japanese twist

Red alert

Talk about discreet, if we didn’t know better, we’d think the folk at Bam-Bou didn’t want anyone to know they had a bar at the top of their three-story Fitzrovian town house – there’s nothing that even hints of its existence at ground level. Good job we can sniff out a cocktail wherever it’s hiding…


First Things First

Be warned: you have to climb quite a few wonky, very rickety stairs of this townhouse-cum-restaurant before you get to the two rooms designated for cocktail drinking. Thank goodness there are plenty of chairs and refreshing drinks to ease the pain when you get to the top.

The theme is Asian. Not that you wouldn’t notice, there are lanterns, screens, bamboo and Japanesey bits and bobs all over the place. And then there are the drinks… Missing Saigon (Beefeater, elderflower syrup, egg white, sugar, lemon); Indochine (Beefeater 24, fresh blackberries, raspberries, Chambord, mango juice, lime) and Me Love You Long Time (Morgan Spiced rum, frsh blackberries, lychee, passion fruit juice) are just a few of the cocktails that remind you which part of the world influences the offer here.

As a look, we won’t lie, it’s ever-so slightly dated but with it’s cosy atmosphere, discreet location and homely setting, it does have its own unique quirky charm.

The Signature

The Bam-Bou Daiquiri (Appleton VX, cinnamon liqueur, lime and sugar) would have been Ms S’s TCL choice if it hadn’t been one of the signature drinks. Even on paper, the cinnamon liqueur works a treat. It’s a simple but stunning addition to the flavour profile of the daiquiri adding a nice, light spicy difference to an otherwise pretty standard drink.

The Classic

Our man suggests either Beefeater 24 or Sipsmith for Mr G’s Dry Martini and when pushed plumps for the former because “I just prefer it”. Fair enough. Rather nicely it’s served in a neat little sherry-type glass and there’s a big, roughly cut piece of lemon peel delivering a lovely fresh citrus aroma. All to the good. It’s nicely mixed, hits the spot and, thanks to the glass, has an agreeably old-fashioned feel about it which sets up the evening nicely.

TCL Choice

Ms S goes for the Secret Garden (cachaca, calvados, gin, lime and fresh raspberries). Although there is a hint of sweetness to it, it’s tempered with a good level of sharp citrus which makes it deliciously fruitilicious and extremely well balanced.

Apart from the odd therapeutic Espresso Martini Mr G tends to avoid caffeine in the evening but there’s something about the Coffee At Bamboo (coffee liqueur, coffee bitters, Sambuca) which calls to him. It’s served in a metal jug to keep it as cold as possible but which also makes for a nice presentation. The balance is good with the coffee feeling strong yet smooth and the anise of the Sambuca lurking discretely in the background.

And To Eat?

Perfect food for cocktails: whitebait with chilli and lime mayo (£4.75), salt and chilli squid (£5), chicken satay with peanut sauce (£4.75) and Bam-Bou Chia Se (choice of 3 dishes, with edamame and crackers, £14).

What’s The Damage?

A very specific £8.10, rising to £10.35 for champagne cocktails.

Look Out For

Definitely the giant prawn crackers served with chilli sauce. When the say giant, they really mean it, these bad boys are as big as your head! And they’re extremely tasty.

Ms S says

There’s a slight whiff of the 1990s about the look and feel of the place, mind you, once you settle back in to the red lushness of the two drawing rooms, that soon goes out of your mind. This is a good little spot to meet friends for drinks after work and works equally well for pre/post dinner dates.

Mr G says

The decor and the music certainly makes the bar feel a little dated but at the same time this is part of its charm. Add in the fact that it feels kind of hidden away (the venue being predominantly a restaurant and the bar itself  at the top of a lot of stairs)  and some pretty good cocktails and it feels like you’ve got your own very discreet, little hide away.

The Details


1 Percy Street, W1T 1DB. T: 020 7323 9130. bam-bou.co.uk

Open Mon-Sat 5.30pm-1am.


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