Cheers! No. 1: Secret Drinking
This occasional series about fine places of refreshment starts off with a nod to secret drinking. London is particularly fond of hiding its more interesting establishments away from casual eyes, with cocktail bars protected by passcodes and hidden messages and odd names for speakeasys like The Mayor Of Scaredy Cat Town. Even a few pubs do it; The Somers Town Coffee House is not a coffee house but a pub and restaurant. Go to the back, though, and press the bookcase to find a secret staircase and four hidden rooms.
The Vault of Soho bar is hidden behind a bookcase in Milroy’s whisky shop in Soho. Hackney Road’s The Natural Philosopher is hidden in the converted storeroom of a Mac repair shop, and there’s nothing to indicate that it’s even there. There are tailors and grocery shops that hide booze joints, but they’re not hard to find – they want customers, after all!
Over in Barcelona, tucked away in the back streets of the old town, the Paradiso appears to be a local tapas bar run by a lone chef. But go to the left of the shop and get inside the fridge. In there you’ll find an amazing speakeasy that specialises in truly outrageous cocktails. And inside one of the bathrooms you’ll find a way to open another trick door that leads to a VIP lounge – but I’m not telling you how to get in there!
Maybe this is why I hide so many bits of off information in the Bryant & May books – I love things that are hidden in plain sight…
NB A propos nothing in particular but yesterday’s blog was the first I’ve ever posted in flight. It felt terribly modern and in about three months’ time will feel terribly passé.