By Greg Hall.
London. Friday night. Good times.
It didn’t matter that the rain was hammering, spirits were rising. For us, Curtain Road was calling.
My girlfriend and I hopped on the 35; like a pumpkin turned into a pristine horse and carriage, it dropped us from our doorstep to the black, spiral staircase of Ninetyeight Bar. Ah yes, that spiral staircase. For many passers-by, it eludes them, confuses them, not realising Ninetyeight is in a basement underneath an estate agent. That ornate gateway tripped up my partner too. Literally. Her five inch heels clashed with the metal, with the elements against us, and only armed with a flapping umbrella, together we battled through the ordeal, to reach that gratifying grotto of a cocktail mecca that is the one, the only Ninetyeight Bar.
Now as far as I’m concerned, this bar could stage a night hosted by The Association of British Fungus Groups and it would still be damn interesting. The entire venue is a visual master class in endearingly erratic décor. I just wish they’d stop with the bland dance music.
That night, the lubrication coursing through the veins of the evening came courtesy of liquor giants, Cointreau, with their theme night, Rendezvous – Prive.
Oui, tres bien, I thought. Pour moi, Cointreau meant boozing bonhomie. In terms of taste, the orange infused tipples were magnifique, but aesthetically they lacked va va voom.
The setup in Ninetyeight was pretty cool. The main bar was rammed, filled with chatter and laughter; pleasure that one should associate with any respected establishment. Moving down; cocktail lessons were taking place with a top fella, Arg (not the bloke from The Only Way is Essex) giving quick-fire classes.
A mixer shake and a lick of salt later, Arg had taught my lovely counterpart and I how to make a mean Cointreau St. Clements and Margarita. The St Clements was refreshing, the Margarita was fiery.
Navigating towards the port of the good ship Ninetyeight, through a sea of Zoolander type models, we ventured to makeover central. In one corner, it was manicures galore. If one wanted to have the very core, the very essence of the manifestation of the sub conscious, the indicator of the inner psyche, your dress sense, politely assessed by two immaculate fashionistas from John Lewis, you could. Which was nice. We stuck to the cocktails and a bit of mingling.
During our sojourn in this haven of mixology we took a shine to some of the fine ornaments displayed around the place. Regarde.
Despite the cordiality of the evening, the crux of the matter is that Cointreau is a fine brand, promoted in a fitting hub. However Ninetyeight sparkles like a diamond in the rough when it is open to the public. When they manage to find it that is.
Looking for further cocktail bar inspiration in London? Follow this link to the Top 10 Best Cocktail Bars in London