A hotel bar can be a staid and stuffy thing. If it’s not the overly serious service, it’s the lingering feeling that if you’re not a guest staying upstairs, then you’re not really welcome. Back out on to the street for you, wandering drinker! Aren’t you the reason we have pubs?
The Seed Library, thankfully, has none of that awkwardness or exclusivity. Instead, this basement adjunct to One Hundred Shoreditch – which was until 2020 the only London branch of The Ace Hotel – is a relaxed, impressively low-lit and supremely welcoming space. With its terrazzo tables, cool pine panelling and soft 1960s-stylings, it brings to mind the late Spiritland, which brought listening-room chic to the bowels of the Royal Festival Hall. There, you felt like you’d been invited to a cocktail party at a wealthy architect’s house, who, for some reason, had no intention to chuck you out.
The £300 Ballermaker is an intimidating concoction of prestige champers Krug Grande Cuvée Brut NV with lemon drops and rooster potatoes
Megastar mixologist Ryan Chetiyawardana – aka Mr Lyan – is behind the Seed Library’s menu, which sees him returning to the area a decade after opening his first bar, White Lyan, on Hoxton Street. His drinks offering is short, but well considered, as you would expect from a man dripping with booze-world awards and who is also behind the much-lauded Lyaness on the South Bank. There are eight cocktails on offer – not including the £300 Ballermaker, a somewhat intimidating concoction of prestige champers Krug Grande Cuvée Brut NV with lemon drops and rooster potatoes. We plumped instead for the more reasonably priced Cream Margarita and Chive Daiquiri, both fresh and extremely clean-tasting concoctions. Heavy, overly boozy drinks aren’t the deal here; even the Scorched Whiskey Sour and Cassis Leaf Manhattan were light and refreshing.
At Seed Library, securing the perfect vibe (low-key, unobtrusive, great for a third date) is as important as the drinks. A soundtrack of everything from The Gun Club to William Onyeabor oozes out of an expensive-sounding PA, and there are more cosy cushions here than in the lounge of a countryside spa. Mr Lyan’s done it again.