Anyone who has ever escaped a date via the bathroom (in the most disappointingly clichéd way possible, we hasten to add) and everyone else will love grappling around for the concealed entrance to this pop-up rum bar – situated suspiciously near the unisex loos in the basement of Off Broadway in London Fields.
Portside Parlour does rum, and does it well. An extensive selection is available from around the globe, ranging from Venezuelan Santa Teresa Rhum Orange (£7) to Jamaican Appleton Estate 21 yr (£20) and seasonal winter delights such as the Hot Buttered Rum (£12 for two to share) can be found among the offerings.
In addition to shots o’rum, the cocktails are expertly mixed by some of London’s best. The traditional dark and stormy is spiced up and laced with hints of star anise, while bar-staple Mai Tai is mixed up with home-made Orgeat syrup.
The overall concept of the Parlour draws inspiration from two sources: Sydney and the high seas. Owners and founders Robbie Acres and Charlie Otth wanted to recreate the feel of the scene back in their native Australia, where small, intimate bars are the norm. Add to this the absence of a dress code and very limited booking policy and the result is a hangout where anyone can just rock up.
The vibe and décor are also sophisticated. Deep plush reds, velvets, cushioned benches, candles and sunken couches are a nautical nod to the decadent quarter’s that ship captains enjoyed (while the rest of the crew lived in scurvy-covered squalor). The low ceilings and convex mirrors "give the impression that you've just snuck into the Captain’s lair," according to Otth. And, we presume, you are there drinking his booze.
You can also keep his booze, by the bottle. Swap your cold, hard doubloons for your choice from a vast array of rums (£60-£200). Drink your fill, then stow the bottle away in the bar’s very own ‘Davey Jones Locker’, guarded by skeletal toucans while you are away. You can draw from it any time for free, with a £3 surcharge if you want it mixing into a cocktail.
If you still doubt this place means business, check out the fortnightly rum clubs running from 20 February, which will feature a tasting and an education session with a brand ambassador, and will offer discounts on bottle purchases.
Portside Parlour is with us for three months (till the end of May) at least, but we’re hoping it’s here for longer. Just watch your step post-partying when the sea-air hits you above ground, rummy.
Portside Palour can be found in the basement of Off Broadway, 63-65 Broadway Market, London, E8 4PH. Rum clubs are £10 entry, start at 7:30 and run for approx one hour. Londonist visited on the bar's opening night, though we expect regular service to be equally ship-shape.