This new behemoth of a bar on Bishopsgate is the latest venture undertaken by the people behind similarly snazzy Square Mile venues The Folly and The Anthologist.
On a Friday evening, it was swarming with suits and loosened ties: it is clearly angling for the corporate quid. Like its Square Mile siblings, it’s unashamedly enormous and guffaws in the face of austerity.
It is stretched over two floors, and the cash has clearly been flashed here to ostentatious effect. It’s very shiny and showy with bars made from walnut and marble, vast glass windows, mosaic tiles and lots of big shelves stacked with vases, china jugs and retro teapots.
Attempts have been made to break up the vast space with nooks and crannies – one of which overlooks Europe’s largest private aquarium which, apparently, houses a shark and more than 1,300 fish.
Perhaps inspired by the aquatics, there’s a strange maritime theme. Seashells and mini treasure chests sit atop the bar. Apparently, it’s all linked to the word ‘Drift’. The name is designed to evoke a floating vibe that flies in the face of the city’s frenzied tumult of FTSEs, hedge funds and pink papers.
On our visit, sloppy service undermined any sense of calm created by the surroundings. The bar staff were slow and sullen, while the English Earl, a simple cocktail made with St Germain liqueur and Hendrick’s Gin, took an age to arrive and was rather stingy for the price.
The cocktail menu is vast – taking in skinny calorie-counting concoctions, myriad martinis, punch bowls and ‘afternoon delights’ which come with little bites – scones, cupcakes and candied ginger.
The wine list, split into flavours and body rather than location, stretches to 40 wines by the glass and includes an array of biodynamic and organic bottles. There’s plenty of Champagne for City types to wave their wads at too.
Dawn-til-dusk dining is available with big breakfasts beginning at 7.30am and a lot of sharing-style tapas dishes being unleashed from an open-plan kitchen as well as salad, platters, antipasto and big, hearty burgers.
It’s an ambitious undertaking, but in the City, there’s apparently an appetite for this kind of after-work affair.