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Hidden inside Chelsea Cloisters, Barts makes much of its secret speakeasy set-up. Once past reception, ascend a staircase, open a door hung with lanterns and you should arrive at a comic-strip
lobby. Press the bell to gain access; you’ll only pass the ID test if the peephole attendant likes the cut of your gib. Inside, prohibition-era chic reigns: vintage clocks, cosy lamps and kitsch
memorabilia cover the walls, while sharing cocktails – named after 1920s’ stars and scallywags such as Laurel & Hardy – are served in top hats and teapots. Meanwhile, individual pours such as
‘wake me up’ (Ketel One vodka, fresh ginger, sweet and sour with red grapes) will have you jigging to the upbeat music. Barts recently joined forces with Sushi des Artistes to produce trendy oriental bar bites including tempura shrimp rolls, pulled pork buns, chicken
satay skewers and suchlike.
Although Brooklyn-styled speakeasies are not new to London, Barts is a good example of one with a quirky take on the prohibition era. The newly redecorated bar is based on the liquor-den of a fictitious Englishman, Uncle Bart, and is complete with chintzy accents, twisted taxidermy and antique furnishings. Apart from the madcap setting, the cocktail menus (hidden in novels around the bar) make for captivating reading with all of the unusual ingredients.Expect smoked salmon infused tipples, balsamic vinegar permutations and essence of tobacco. The Perique Tobacco used at Barts is hand-picked by artisans in Louisiana; a rare and fruity pipe variety grown by only a handful of master cultivators. The process of converting this rare tobacco into liquor removes the carcinogens but leaves a teasing quantity of nicotine – all the rush of a puff without the lethality of it...
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