The Reading Room

Upstairs at The Library, Laycock Street , London, N1 1RU

SquareMeal Review of The Reading Room

Absinthe – the medicinal-tasting, once-taboo spirit – is dispensed as tradition dictates at this quasi-clandestine, first-floor salon above The Library bar-restaurant. The procedure entails iced water from an art nouveau fountain being carefully poured over a sugar lump set on a silver spoon, which turns the clear pine-green herbal spirit a milky shade of mint. Divine decadence? Downright disgusting? Absinthe polarises opinion. Novices may prefer a gentle introduction in the form of cocktails whose recipes call for the anise-flavoured stuff only in small measure. Chrysanthemum (a Martini made with Benedictine and Noilly Prat) or Sazerac (a rye whiskey Old Fashioned in an absinthe-rinsed glass) are two of the old-timers to savour. If you prefer an absence of absinthe, choose alternatives such as Pisco Sour or Vieux Carré. Live mellow jazz and blues keep up the spirits every Saturday.

The Reading Room Location

Upstairs at The Library, Laycock Street , London N1 1RU

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