Venue Review: Barts
On arriving at Barts, tucked away down a corridor in the unlikely location of Chelsea Cloisters, you could be forgiven for thinking that your date had just booked you a hotel room for the night and wondering where on earth you were going. The only sign that the door you’re waiting outside is any different from those around it is a solitary black lamp on the wall. Once through the first door you ring the bell and a hatch opens before you are let into the stylish, laid-back, speakeasy-themed bar. If you are familiar with the group’s other themed establishments (Maggie’s, Bunga Bunga and Mr Fogg’s, to name a few), you will not be surprised to see a well-thought-out, impressive and stylish interior with exceptional attention to detail that perfectly fits the speakeasy concept Barts has adopted.
The cocktail menus are as eccentric as the interior, with a great selection of sharers served in quirky teapots, chests and cups. Barts genuinely serves some of the best cocktails in London, putting its own spin on classics as well as offering some deliciously creative options using ingredients you wouldn’t expect (tobacco, anyone?).
The staff were attentive and extremely knowledgeable when helping us make our decisions, and their recommendations couldn’t have been more accurate in fitting our taste buds. First up was the Basil Faulty, with your choice of gin or vodka, fresh basil, pineapple and lemon; it hit the spot and was gone within a minute. My date had the fruity and mouth-watering Charleston Crumble, which was also consumed in record time – can you complain that a bar’s cocktails are too drinkable? Next on the menu for us was the Café Bialetti, a coffee cocktail served in a moka pot with chocolate on the side, and the Pink Pokemon, made with lemon vodka, lychee and rosewater. We managed to make these last a little longer, not because they weren’t as good but because we feared we might look like alcoholics if we requested a third drink within 15 minutes of arriving.
If you (or your date) aren’t familiar with this South Kensington favourite, it will certainly impress. The setting feels like you’re entering a secret bar, the Platform 9¾ of drinking establishments – although of course, this is SW3’s worst kept secret. Evenings later in the week get busy, so if you’re after a quiet drink, head there pre-dinner or earlier in the week. If you’re at Barts as a warm-up to a big night out, leave your inhibitions at the door, order some absinthe, dive head-first into the fancy dress closet and party like you’re living in the prohibition era.
(A word of caution: the Espresso Martinis are lethal and you may find yourself acting out of character and partying until the early hours if you choose to drink them to excess.)