Wednesday, 7 March 2012

6 London Bars, Pubs & Restaurants Where Drinking During The Film Is Actively Encouraged

By Christian Rose-Day.

“I’ve had a shit day at work. I need a drink. Let’s go out.”

“Oh really? Actually, I had a bit of a heavy weekend. I’d prefer a quiet night on the couch, if you don’t mind? Perhaps a movie.”

“I said: I. Need. A. Drink!”

“Ah. OK. Got it. Umm, how about we do both?”

Yes, it is possible. It is possible to catch a movie and go for a drink in the same night. There are cinemas in London - such as the Clapham Picturehouse, the Brixton Ritzy, the Everyman on Edgware Road, The Electric on Portobello Road, and the recently refurbished Odeon in Swiss Cottage - that allow movie lovers to keep clutching their life-affirming alcohol drinks as they enter their film of choice. Birds, stone: thwack, thwack.
Last week I checked out what £3million-worth of redevelopment can do for a cinema that was originally built in 1937. I went along to the aforementioned Odeon cinema in north London’s Swiss Cottage, specifically to have a nose around the new bar that has been installed there - Ambar - and to see if I could sneak my glass of wine into a film.
With hints of Art Deco, 25 wines by the glass (selected by Bibendum), the promise of future midnight screenings (with Ambar reportedly open until 2am), and some prominent bar food offers - such as a sharing platter with two glasses of wine for £15, or a burger and a beer for only £8 - this modern remake (of a bar) is bound to put bums on seats, even if it might not be as cool as the original (this may not be true; I wasn’t around on 1937).
Whilst my guest and I sat in the bar, slurping an inexpensive £5.95 Daiquiri and a strong, fruity, mango Caipiroska, the bad day slowly slipping away from us with every sip, we discussed the joys of cinema and the joys of booze. We then attempted to compile a list of cinemas in London that allow patrons to take their drinks into the film with them. Then we went one better and named bars and restaurants in London allow patrons to watch films as their sip their drinks.
Just before we were offered a decanted plastic wine glass of 2010 Valdivieso Merlot at the bar, in advance of our 9pm showing of the frankly overrated Oscar winning movie The Artist (would have worked better as a short film; my guest actually fell asleep during), we concluded that the six bars, pubs and restaurants listed below were the best bars, pubs and restaurants in London for simultaneous movie appreciation and stress-relieving glasses of wine.

Brasserie Max
This West End restaurant sits in the impressive Covent Garden Hotel which is also home to a state-of-the-art cinema with space for 47 movie lovers. Movies vary from week to week, from classics to recent releases. Note that although alcohol is permitted in the cinema, the hotel does ask that hot drinks and red wine are excluded. Save the expensive carpet, and all that. Champagne, however, is actively encouraged, which is handy because this year you can treat your darling Mum to a 4-course lunch in the restaurant on Mother’s Day with a glass of Moet and Chandon Rose Champagne thrown in for only £40. You can book this offer by using the handy booking widgety thingiemabob below. Alternatively, you can book your Mum afternoon tea or a 2-course dinner with a glass of wine AND the movie for £35. Upcoming movie to look out for: Mother’s Day special - W.E. directed by Madonna.

Filthy McNasty’s
It’s Monday, what else are you going to do but watch crap TV? Cinema club, that’s what. This north London bar’s rear room becomes a weekly cinema, in which free popcorn and 2-4-1 stone baked pizzas are served. Upcoming movie to look out for: Jim Jarmusch double bill of Down by Law and Ghost Dog (1am finish, on a school night; oooh, naughty)

The Exhibit
On Tuesdays and Wednesdays this multifarious beast is not only a bar, not only a diner restaurant, not only a sun-drenched beer garden, and not only a honeypot for legions of hot young things; it’s also a cosy 24-seater cinema. The homeliness of this bar-cinema comes courtesy of leather love sofas. Plus, it’s OK to carry a glass of wine into the film with you. Normally, movie tickets are 7 quid a pop but I’d recommend indulging in the ‘dinner and movie’ combo for £15.95. Burger, fries movie, WITH dessert. Bargain! Upcoming movie to look out for: Brad Pitt in Moneyball.

The Water Poet
Known for its pool tables, fantastic beer garden, and fashionable east London crowd, this pub also provides a fitting venue for the The Underground Picturehouse which comes replete with large screen, HD projector, Dolby surround sound, comfy sofas, and the kind of refreshments any decent East End boozer should supply. Plus, it’s only a fiver for each ticket! Upcoming movie to look out for: 2011’s Irish comedy The Guard starring Brendan Gleeson.

Roxy Bar and Screen
This is the Daddy in London’s dual bar-cinema stakes. If you’ve yet to visit, clear the calendar right this minute. A night spent in this bar is like a scene from a movie itself: all darkness, heavy drapes, brooding shadows, and an expectant air drifting around with the smell of smoked paprika and chilli-roasted belly of pork served with celeriac puree, garlic green beans and jus. Cosy couches, antique tables and booths create what is ostensibly an auditorium and at the long, modern concrete-set bar you’ll find libations like Goose Green IPA from America, Santa Puerta Sauvignon Blanc from Chile, and imaginatively titled Tequila Mocking Bird cocktails. The schedule is enticingly varied, with many performances being preceded by QandA sessions with film producers, screenwriters and occasionally actors. Sports fans will also want to keep tabs of the Six Nations rugby, premiership football and Formula 1 action. Upcoming movie to look out for: My Week With Marilyn starring Michelle Williams

Whirled Cinema
Not technically a bar, as the name might suggest, but the concept is worth sharing anyway, especially as the bar is actually in the cinema. Basically, this is a small 60-seat members’ cinema in Loughborough Junction with an annual membership of only £45. What do you get for your £45? Well, you get a range of world and art-house film screenings on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, plus the odd theatre, music or literary night. You can watch as many films as you want throughout the year and you can even bring a guest, absolutely free. Set in on an old railway arch, this digital cinema also houses a bar serving wines, beers, cocktails and Firezza Pizzas, and film lovers are encouraged to hang out after each movie for a chat, maybe on the outdoor balcony. If that isn’t worth £45 a year, I don’t know what it. Upcoming movie to look out for: Gus Van Sant’s Restless


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