If I were staying at the Town Hall Hotel in Bethnal Green, I would be in trouble, as I would never leave the Viajante Bar. I know, I know, you’re thinking, “what’s a blogger on a budget doing in a swank bar?” Drinking, that’s what. Which brings me to another IMPORTANT RULE: Always leave room in the budget for cocktails. Odds are you’ll need one. (I know I do.)
The bar at Viajante is one of those sleek places that get advertised in in-flight magazines. It is decoratively staffed by waifish pixies and unreasonably good-looking bartenders. Being east of Shoreditch, in addition to lonely middle-aged business travelers, there are a goodly number of attractive hipsters getting their drink on. (I count myself in the latter category, thankyouverymuch.) Most important, the cocktails are FANTASTIC, and the cocktail menu is fabulously inventive. And thank gawd, unlike every other hipster bar in London (it seems), the cocktails are not served in trendy miniature “vintage” coupe glasses that contain about two tablespoons of actual cocktail but in REAL glasses that hold A LOT of alcohol. Did I mention that they are lethal?
I loved the Sour Italian (£9), a delectably frothy mix of Chartreuse Yellow VEP, Strega, fresh apple, lemon, lime and bitters. Friend B slurped delightedly at her Artillery Shell (somebody really drunk, or belligerent, came up with that name), a fizzy blend of grappa, unidentified “citrus”, dehydrated strawberry, and dehydrated beet, topping the price list at £10.
After dinner at Corner Room (more about that in another post), we returned for digestives (along with about half a dozen other diners – that bar is a good racket). The Dr. Henderson, allegedly created by Fergus Henderson as a sure-fire cure for even the most stubborn hangovers (£8, Fernet Branca and Crème de Menthe) seemed like a great idea but I found that when I drank all the Fernet Branca off the top I really didn’t want the Crème de Menthe. I was probably supposed to stir it. Whoops.
The clear winner of the evening, however, was the Ron Burgundy (astonishingly enough, Rum, Pinot Noir, and something else SCARY which I’ve blocked out) which comes ON FIRE, under a silver dome, smells like a campfire, and is accompanied by a book in which people who are drunk, I mean ballsy, enough to order the drink are encouraged to record their experiences.
Maybe you didn’t catch that entry, I’ll give you a closer look:
Finally, in addition to supplying lonely drinkers with a LIQUID SUBSTITUTE for a Korean girl (these people think of everything!), the Viajante Bar has thoughtfully provided its clientele with their very own Panic Room:
Discreetly situated in the stairwell en route to the loo, this is the perfect spot to take a breather when you are tired of the company of your drunk friends, or perhaps when you’ve hit the Ron Burgundy a little hard yourself. The headphones actually play DIFFERENT MUSIC than is played in the bar. Genius.
Viajante Bar, London
Patriot Square, E2 9NF
020 7871 0461
Price per person: £8 – You are the master of your own destiny, but don’t say I didn’t warn you!
The verdict: Must try!