In the autumn of 2014 the staid Stoke Newington burger scene was shaken to its core by the arrival of disco-loving griller-about-town Burger Bear. And now, directly underneath this flung-together Stokey Bears diner, as-yet completely unmarked, is this new bar from the same people behind the consistently commendable Happiness Forgets in Hoxton Square. Like that forebear, it’s dark, seductive and serves peerless cocktails. But unlike the shoebox-sized Happiness, Original Sin is pretty sizeable.
A long, thin bar stretches the length of the long, thin room, which has old railway-carriagesque booth tables beside it. At one end, below a chandelier, is a very suave pool table – so suave that no 50-pence pieces are required, as it’s free. The whole venue is illuminated to a degree by funky ’70s lighting, including some pineapple-shaped wall pendants straight out of a tiki dream.
And the cocktails, brought to table by impeccably pleasant staff, are brilliant. They’re strong, well-balanced and classy. Interestingly, the short list doesn’t include any gin or vodka, but instead plenty of unusual and complex spirits such as white rye, Kamm & Sons and mezcal. There’s also a good showing from the aperitifs – Suze, Byrrh, Aperol, Amer Picon, vermouth. For an introduction try the hard-hitting Red Hook, with rye, maraschino and Punt e Mes (a decent £8), or the Penfold Sour (Byrrh, Kamm & Sons, Aquavit, lime and cane syrup, an equally decent £8). Such drinks seem simple, coming as they are without any of the scientific whizz-bang increasingly seen behind the bar these days, but to get the simple things right every time is often equally as hard. And as this new bar does get it right each time, maybe the real sin would be to miss it.