The name sounds a bit like a superhero’s weakness – and given that strong martinis are this bar’s speciality, that’s probably apt. Anthracite is also dressed like a villain’s lair, its walls as ominously black as the hard coal it’s named after, the lighting so low you’ll emerge from the bar squinting as well as squiffy. It’s on the first floor of the Great Northern Hotel, with views of the King’s Cross concourse for contrast.
Sofa seating by the bar is snug but nowhere near as comfortable as it looks, plus you end up rather close to neighbouring drinkers (mostly businessmen in their forties). Staff offering table service were hardly versed in the fundamentals of martini-making. Luckily, those on the bar knew their craft, and my martini made to order was exactly as dry as I’d hoped.
For £12 you can choose your gin or vodka from a varied selection, and even select your vermouth, if you want complete control. My companion ordered a Lost in Translation, a tall, fruity cocktail with a foamy top and a Japanese gin base. Bar snacks included some slightly dry duck bonbons and under-seasoned padron peppers, but chunky courgette fries hit the mark.
Cocktail bars in the vicinity may win out, but Anthracite is one for martini lovers. Especially ones with good night vision.