When a friend got in touch with me to plan a night of drinks, gossip and catching up, she suggested we choose a bar near Liverpool Street Station to make things easier for everyone. The whole area is an area of two halves. As you come out of the station, on to Bishopsgate, you have the city, full of suits, bankers, glitzy restaurants and expense accounts to your right, and the urban gritty pull of Shoreditch's pop up venues, quirky bars and oh-so-many mustaches to the left. The contrast is clear, the buildings of Broadgate Tower, often seen in adverts and The Apprentice, are backed by arty hoardings and overgrown grass.
Figuring we'd hit Shoreditch later, we chose South Place Bar, just around the corner from where I used to work. I'd walked past it time after time, and the lure of cow skin seats and comfy chairs made it a perfect option for Tuesday night drinks. Why Tuesday? Let me explain.
While I was working as a copywriter for health and beauty website Wahanda, the site editor, Judy, along with Charlie, Ali and Mel, had deemed Tuesday as Bitch Tuesday. Monday we know is going to be bad. No one ever likes a Monday. Wednesday sees the weekend in sight, Thursday is unofficial party night, Friday is party night. But what does Tuesday bring? Nothing but woe.
So with a little table booked, and work finished for the day, I hopped on the cattle wagon to London. From the station, the bar and hotel are best accessed through either Sun Street passage by Boot's, past Pret and Starbucks, or through the shopping arcade, past the Krispy Kreme stand. It's literally about five minutes down the road, so no wonder it was full of Essex types drinking after a long day at work. And when I say full, I mean full.
We were greeted at the door, had our coats taken, and settled in the huge chairs. The server brought over our menus and a tin of popcorn to snack on, and we decided to start with a server's choice sharing platter, Clover Club and Mint Julep cocktails.
After a no-so-long wait the platter arrived and was squeezed onto the table. Called the Superbowl 3SP, there were mini mozzarella balls seasoned with herbs and salt, Pepper Jack chilli fries (very similar to sloppy joe chips) and pulled steak mini baps. It was a perfect amount for two, and absolutely needed.
The cocktails were gorgeous. The Clover Club was served in a 1920s glass, while the Mint Julep was stacked full of ice in a tin. The cocktails were expertly crafted and tasted delicious; mint was so fresh. The only issue was the coldness of the tin; the ice had cased a frosty condensation to form so at least it meant I sipped it slowly.
After a good chat, the platter was finished and we thought there was enough time for another round before we moved on.
One thing that intrigued us was the cocktail served in a balloon, the Route 66. We had to try it, just to see how it was served and also to discover what white cola actually was. Another really interesting addition to the menu was the Boston Tea Party, a warm cocktail, yes you read correctly - it's served warm. And in a vintage tea cup. And it has gin. AND chocolate.
Cocktails arrived soon after ordering and the tea was sipped and finished in super speed, it was just THAT moreish. It was a great end to the night. We were sat there for a good few hours, and couldn't believe how many people were chatting, meeting friends, going through the day's events with colleagues or just sipping solo. The huge fireplace was ablaze, and gave the huge space a cozy feel.
The only hitch to the night was a missing coat. The member of staff on the front desk couldn't help, but he managed to find our server and she went back to check. Fortunately it was found, and so we wrapped up warm ready to brave the cold outside.
If you're an Essex girl or boy looking for somewhere closer to home than Central London, it's definitely worth a peek through the windows and a cheeky tipple from a balloon at the very least.
3 South Place | South Place Hotel, 3 South Place, London EC2M 2AF | 020 3503 0000