A hidden bar offers a tantalising chance for that rarest of things in London; personal space. This city has a fantastic nightlife but boy do we like to pack ourselves in to any bar, pub or beer garden. You’re often hard pressed to make yourself heard and as for getting any attention at the bar, you have to smear yourself past any number of people, all of whom would resort to violence but their arms are pressed down by their sides.
Thank goodness then for the latest hidden bar, 5cc, which can be found at the Exmouth Arms. I say, can be found, although this writer spent way too much time bumbling around trying to find its location. It was nothing to do with the bar as there is a bright neon sign showing its location. A series of missteps finally ended with my companion and I settling into what is a very relaxed area. It is decorated with artifacts and posters but not in a way that make it look kitsch or ersatz.
My companion started off with a Li Chi, whilst I ventured for a Sazerac. The Li Chi was a compelling mixture of lychee liqueur along with coconut rum, blended with raspberries for a smooth drink that had a pleasing tart finish. My Sazerac was much more hard hitting with tobacco-infused cognac, rye whisky and a small hint of absinthe. There were kicks aplenty in this one and all the better for it.
One of the neat touches that the bar offers is to serve the drinks in medicine bottles, almost like the ones you might find in a risque version of Alice in Wonderland. One of the concoctions was the Negroni, which is a renowned classic. Their version was fantastic, a mixture of gin, vermouth rosso and bitters. My companion went for a Koko Verde, which is similar to a Mojito. It is a beguiling mixture of melon liqueur, rum along with kiwis and topped up with lemonade. It had a real potency as well as delicately smooth.
Whilst my companion was more than happy with her lot, I was determined to add another nightcap on top of the two nightcaps I had selected before. Fittingly, the drink was called The Last Word, a Prohibition era cocktail that was created at the New York establishment The Pegu Club. Given that its ingredients are gin, lime juice, Green Chartreuse and maraschino liqueur, it’s a great mixture of sweet and sour.
The atmosphere at 5cc is incredibly relaxed and the staff are very informed about the drinks and the creative process behind them. Just don’t be an idiot like me and get lost on the way to bar.
5cc at the Exmouth Arms
23 Exmouth Market
Tel: 020 3664 6454