Wednesday, 16 January 2013
White Rabbit Cocktail Club
In a nearby shop window is a vintage poster which reads: ‘No underground! Get over yourself. Visit Stoke Newington.’ If you’re not lucky enough to live there or nearby, get on a bus and go, and while you’re there you may as well make a day of it. If you can persuade someone to spend that much time with you, that is.
Let your companion consider mortality in the beautifully macabre Abney Park Cemetery. Some say death is actually a powerful aphrodisiac, so who knows where this may lead. Best leave before dark though: you may actually come face-to-face with mortality or at best a couple of ageing Goths wanking each other off onto a tomb where ‘dearly beloved’, who ‘fell asleep’, lies waiting to wake again at the Second Coming. Lighten the mood with a short stroll down the serene Church Street and regain your joie de vivre by admiring the fallow deer in Clissold Park.
After this psychological rollercoaster a drink is in order. Where better than the mental medley that is White Rabbit Cocktail Club? I never thought I would be writing the phrase ‘another bar inspired by the works of Lewis Carroll’, but there we go: this is another bar inspired by the works of Lewis Carroll to arrive on the London drinking scene. A touch of this inspiration, combined with a pinch of steam-punk, gives the venue the appearance of having been put together by someone addicted to opium. There is a large garden at the back - it was cold and dark so I didn’t look - but I am told it keeps on theme, and am sure that it will be a massive draw in warmer months.
The drinks themselves are delicious, made even more so by some excellent deals. The Kir Royale, one of the best I’ve had, seemed to be made by magic. The cassis syrup, unconstrained by the laws of physics, was settled at the bottom of the glass and gradually mixed with the champagne. I was also excited by the Caterpillar cocktail; due to my penchant for absinthe, and consequently doing something desolate. Unfortunately for this review, yet fortunately for my wellbeing, I dropped it all over my knees and didn’t have enough money to buy a new one.
Avid Alice in Wonderland fans will remember when Alice and her companions got in on the Two for Tuesday deal from Dominoes – the White Rabbit crying ‘Oh dear! Oh dear! The pizza shall be too late’. ‘Too late for what?’ you ask. Who knows, maybe the rabbit actually managed to drink his Caterpillar and that’s why he makes even less sense than a purse full of newts. At least, this is how I remember it. Then again, my time with the green fairy may have blurred my judgement somewhat. Unfortunately chain pizza restaurants have yet to reach the staunchly independent Stoke Newington, so White Rabbit have had to settle for the slightly less authentic, but still appetizing local pizzeria Il Bacio Express. You can order in a range of antipasti and pizza in order to fuel your Alice in Wonderland themed night and also seduce your companion with your sensuous, grease-covered fingers.
If this doesn’t put them off, lure them down into ‘The Rabbit Hole’. For surely, if they were not impressed enough already, this basement club space (open until 4am at weekends) will place them in no doubt that you are at one with the innate workings of this city. They offer a range of theatre, burlesque and club-nights on an exciting-looking schedule. The night, ‘Too Cute to Puke’, sounds way too tempting to be real.
If this is all too fancy then the Rochester Castle is round the corner - a prime contender for bleakest Wetherspoons in London.
Look out for White Rabbit’s sister venue opening soon on Hackney Road: Through the Looking Glass – yet another Alice in Wonderland style bar.
White Rabbit Cocktail Club,
125 Stoke Newington High Street,
0207 249 6748