Cocktails in London

There are some things in life that are so good that you really want to keep them to yourself. You know exactly what we mean. Those places that you discover that are just so amazing that you just don’t need anyone else finding out and telling everyone else and then this amazing place ending up as just another tourist attraction.

Last weekend we went to Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese. It’s an old favorite of ours, from way before we moved here, and have been going there as often as we can. Unfortunately many times we’re turned away by a super crowded bar, which is normally not a deterrent. But when a place is full of people who’re more intent on sightseeing than enjoying a drink, well, we don’t want any part of that. Last weekend was a bit different; perhaps because it was still pretty early, the bar was pretty empty, and we enjoyed a drink by the fireplace.

Don't you love the smell of a crackling fire?

Don’t you love the smell of a crackling fire?

And then we walked out to find a tour just outside, with the guide telling her followers a few facts about this place we so love. They were told that it’s one of the oldest pubs in London. And then they walked away. Wouldn’t they have gotten a better experience by walking in and having a drink, seeing the inside, experiencing the atmosphere of the place? We believe so. Instead, they just walked past.

Well, there are other places that were pretty cool a few years back and which have now become a magnet for tourists. Take Borough Market for example. We love it and for us it’s a place that we go out of necessity. We use it for it’s intended purpose — as a market. We go there to shop. Yet, when we are laden with bags and are walking from one seller to another, we often see people simply intent on taking photos of the beautiful displays. We understand that some of them do call out to be immortalized, but at the same time, please don’t block the passageway simply to take pics especially if you’re not going to spend a penny at that place.

Anyway, we could rant about this forever, but before we get too worked up, we’ll get back to our point. There are some things in life that are so good that you really feel possessive of them, that you don’t want to share them lest they lose some of their luster. But then we remember that the reason we started this blog is, in fact, to share our findings. To allow others, expats or not, to get to know the places we discover.

Well, a few weeks back we discovered a gem in Clerkenwell. It was the first Saturday of the year and we had a dinner in Soho. Afterwards, one of us came up with the idea of trying out the Zetter Townhouse for a nightcap. The other one of us wasn’t sure. Did we really want to walk a couple of miles to potentially not be able to get in. Well, the doubtful Thomas finally relented and we were very lucky to get a good seat at this absolutely amazing cocktail bar. And we do underline lucky since the people who walked in right after us were turned away.

The thing is this, there are good cocktail places and then there are cocktail places that are just great. The line between the two might be thin but the feeling is different. First off, let’s start with the decor. The Zetter Townhouse feels like someone’s living room. Really. There are couches and low tables and bookshelves and books. And there’s dim lighting that makes it feel so welcoming and warm. Just the right atmosphere to get a cocktail. Or four.

We went home that night, a little tipsy but oh so pleased by our find. And we were certain that we would return. And we did. Today. We were walking around Angel, doing some exploring up there, and the same one of us who had first wanted to go to Zetter mentioned it as a potential pit stop on our way home. It was around 5pm and we didn’t know whether we’d be able to get in, but since it was in our path thought we might as well stop by. We lucked out, for the second time. We were told that we could have a table for an hour since it was reserved at 6.30. We didn’t mind since we had no intention of spending a long time there.

Or so we thought….. We both got a drink from the pretty great cocktail list, a gin martini with citrus aromatics and a cider brandy sour. We went off the menu for our second round, opting to allow the bartenders to create their magic. We enjoy this by the way. Bartenders, we found, tend to like to be given free reign and allowed to create their own concoctions. And we weren’t disappointed. It was a rum daiquiri for one of us and a mezcal sour for the other. The latter hit the spot and was reordered, while the other one got a drink that we had on our first visit, the Flintlock, that comes with some theatrics.

Oh, the drink tasted great too, which is what you want when you go to a cocktail joint. This really hits the spot. We can’t wait to be back.

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