The Old Bengal Warehouse was built in the eighteenth century for the East India Company. Over the last couple of years it’s undergone a massive renovation to create two spanking new bars and two expense-account restaurants. There’s the New Street Grill (meat), the Fish Market restaurant (yup, fish) and the New Street Wine Shop (an off-licence plus wine bar) – but our favourite bit is the Old Bengal Bar, which is by far the most fun and frivolous of the foursome.
New Street, a cul-de-sac directly opposite the main sluice into Liverpool Street Station, surprisingly contains a secluded high-walled courtyard that forms the Old Bengal Bar’s garden. The bouncer, greeter, waiting staff and bartenders were all notably welcoming on our visit, allowing us to admire the comfy outdoor seating and custom-made awnings before we dashed inside to recover from all that fresh air.
The East India Company monpolised the opium trade in Bengal during the eighteenth century, trafficking the drug to China. The bar’s designer has used this heritage as the inspiration for the low-lit interior, as dark as an opium den, save for a few red highlights: the leather-bound menus and the banquettes, more Shanghai than Calcutta.
The well-stocked and mirrored back bar is beautifully lit, displaying a fine collection of bottles; a far wall is also mirrored, with concealed doors leading to the loos. The music’s not too loud and is suitably ambient. The cocktail list is long and well considered, divided by spirit.
Service was leisurely on the quiet night we visited, but the drinks were well made: a tequila-based Easy Tiger, served in a martini glass, had a subtle dash of lime and ginger; while a New York Sour was nicely graduated from red (wine) at the top to yellow (whisky) at the bottom, in a girly-looking piña colada glass.
Anyone who has braved Liverpool Street Station late on a Thursday or Friday will know it as the outflow from numerous City tanking stations. This is not one of those sort of bars. The cocktails come to over a tenner each once the 12.5 percent service is added on – but that’s the price you have to pay for such a pipe dream of a bar.