Firstly, it’s not a club: anyone can walk down the stairs of the former Grape Street Wine Bar into this dark basement bar. It’s owned by the same team behind the other LCC in Goodge Street, and is cut from the same cloth: a post-work, hair-down, ties-off celebration of the consequence-free side of drinking.
Inhibitions are unwelcome, as are any intentions of solitude or complex conversation. It’s loud, extroverted and unashamedly cheesy – the soundtrack on our visit included sing-yourself-hoarse anthems like ‘Don’t Stop Believin’, ‘Livin’ on a Prayer’ and ‘Greased Lightnin’ (no room for boring full gerunds down here).
But although the staff are also straight out of the Brian Flanagan school of good-time bartending, they’ve got some serious skills, and the cocktail list is irreverent and engaging, if liberally misspelled. It opens with the maxim ‘Good cocktails ani’t cheap and cheap cocktails ani’t good [sic]', and proceeds with a South Seas rum theme through sections such as ‘Stowaways’ (classics at £7.50) and ‘The pantry’ (food-inspired drinks, £8) up to a £15 zombie, that full-on flaming rum concoction guaranteed to start a party/stop it in its tracks before it’s even got going.
We began with a Bramley Apple Smash – gin, elderflower and apple, served imaginatively in a cloth-topped jam jar with a biscuit chaser; a Hello Treacle had Scotch, ginger wine, syrup and angostura, over ice in a Tate & Lyle tin. A straight-up Vesper was presented more soberly, but was assertive and well made.
Food is of the party-snacks variety: sharing plates, stuff on sticks, deep-fried alcohol sponges, but is a lot more considered than the Coldland ad this makes it sound like. Dishes like rump steak and horseradish skewers, or smoked mackerel and caper on toast, complement the superior drinks well.
This is not, you will by now have realised, the place for a contemplative pint. After a few hours of racous socialising, strong liquor and informal karaoke, you’ll probably see your drinking companions in a new light, if you can see them at all in the gloom. But for sheer fun, it’s hard to beat.