With the orangey hue of the ‘Soul Train’ studio and a soundtrack to match, it’s pretty hard not to instantly dig Fam, a cocktail bar round the back of Oxford Street that’s already full of buzz. I was digging it even before a friendly face popped up from behind the bar and apologised – with what felt like real sincerity – for not welcoming me as I came through the door (she’d been busy Marie Kondo-ing her glassware).
In the words of Sly and the Family Stone, it’s a family affair (hence the name) – but that’s probably best interpreted as a work family. Throughout the evening, people kept dropping in to say hello and share a drink with bar staff, and a wall of framed photos is a who’s who of the drinks industry. That may be the kind of thing to put off the average punter, but know this: it’s given a difficult central London spot (where the second branch of Bar Termini recently closed) an unlikely warm and neighbourhoody feel. We were invited to hang up our coats, a wall of vinyl was there to be treated as our own hipster jukebox and chummy service lasted the duration and included being offered a slot on that ‘fam’ photo wall.
The bar’s team includes Dre Masso, a leading figure in London’s cocktail scene for more than 20 years, but it was co-founder Megs Miller who served us. She’s Canadian, and a tequila ambassador, but despite this, I sampled cocktails (all £10.50) driven by UK ingredients. A standout was the Brand New Shoes, a combination of gin and English sparkling wine with a seasonal sorbet – sweet-sour crab apple when I visited – blended into the drink to give a remarkable syrupy, tingly texture. The Claymore was equally local and beautifully simple: a blended scotch made long, light and sweet from in-house sparkling wine cordial, and served in beautiful glassware.
This is living room drinking at its finest, and all just a skip from Selfridges. You get me, Fam.