When you walk down Gerrard Street, it is hard to believe that one of the very few real speakeasy bars in London is located here: brightly lit Chinese restaurants and massage-parlours dominate the streetview here and you’d sooner find a signature Peking Duck than a signature cocktail. My companion had visited the bar previously, so she knew where the very inconspicuous door is located, as I had passed it by on several occasions previously. I strongly advise you to reserve ahead: there is always some room for passers-by, but you may find a closed door on busy days. Which is most of the days.
The people that on first sight just happen to just hang around at street-level, appear to be the doormen of ECC. Having a reservation is not a guarantee to get inside: when you’re not properly dressed (London trendy at the very least) it is possible that there’s no seat available anymore. Better leave your home well prepared.
The bar is spread out over 2 floors of which the first one is reached after a long stairway. You’re welcomed upstairs by the host, who takes your coat and shows you your table. The atmosphere of the place just radiates that 20s clandestine feeling of illegal establishments, hidden from the public eye. The low and richly decorated ceiling combined with the raw brick walls accentuate this feeling. A glooming centre of attention is the bar, behind which stylishly dressed bartenders produce drink after drink. The menu is as the name of venue promises: experimental, although most cocktails are just great drinks that are quite accessible. The waitresses take time to take your order, although a big part of their job is to socialize with the clientele and on busy days they get pretty tied up. But guiding you through their menu is something they happily do and one drink that you’ll have to try is the Saint-Germain des Prés, an amazing cocktail, rich and foamy in texture and refreshing in taste.
I have tried some very tasty drinks from the menu and together with my companion we could share drinks amongst each other to do a little tasting. Your taste is probably quite different from mine, so follow your own feeling for your choice in drinks. A seat at the bar is highly recommended at busy days, as most tables are quite low and your view can exist of other people rather than the beautiful interior.
Upstairs is a somewhat more intimate bar, with an even lower ceiling and you may find yourself amidst the trend-setting crowd of London. The dj has his setup here and you can experience a somewhat more pleasant volume than downstairs, where on weekend-days it can get quite noisy with music and chatter competing.
ECC is quite an experience, for a number of reasons: the stylish (in-)crowd, the interior design and of course the skilled crew and high quality of the cocktails. But remember to travel well prepared: make a reservation and dress up!
13A Gerrard Street, London Open:Mon-Sat: 6pm – 3am Sun: 5pm – 12midnight Underground: Leicester Square Phone:+44 782 521 877 Website here.