A new kind of bar has surfaced on the London Bridge scene, Cecil’s. I wasn’t really sure what to expect before my visit on a Friday night since I hadn’t heard much about it. I guess I just assumed another intimate, speakeasy-type basement drinking hole (from the one picture i’d seen). However it turned out to be far from this.
A short stroll from London Bridge station, you enter off a little cobbled street which appears pretty deserted, and then through a dark stairwell into what appears to be an underground candlelit warehouse.
It was around 8.45pm, and we followed the noise into the main bar area, inside which the vibe was electric. To my surprise, a live band was in full swing on stage at the front of the bar, and the crowd was engrossed in the music with pockets of groups dancing away merrily. I was a bit thrown at first, given the kind of bar I was expecting to walk into, but it was certainly a pleasant surprise.
What I didn’t know is that every Friday night, Cecil’s host a different live band, with acts starting from 8.30pm (followed by Cecil’s in-house DJ until late). On this night, we had the pleasure of witnessing CC SMUGGLERS, an innovative & contemporary band with amazing energy along with a vast array of instruments. Their performance had people off their seats, cheering and dancing away. I’d reserved 2 seats and our little table happened to be right in front of the stage.
The bar has a Chinese/Oriental theme going on, but I didn’t really ‘feel’ it – it’s kind of a half-hearted theme in my opinion. The decor is quite basic and definitely not as ‘retro-glam’ as some of the reviews i’ve read make it out to be. I liked their cocktail menu (starting at a very reasonable £6), although if cocktails don’t take your fancy, there’s beers, wines, champagne, & spirits available. You’ll also find a small selection of snacks on offer courtesy of the Chinese restaurant down the road.
Both of our chosen cocktails were very nice …
‘Paris of the East’ – Belenkaya vodka shaken with Tio Pepe, passion fruit, apple & lemon juices, with a splash of the ‘House’ plonk & aloe vera juice to finish. And ‘Ginger Cossack’ – Belenkaya vodka with homemade ginger juice, pineapple & fresh lime.
Bit of a shame we had to leave within the hour to make our dinner reservation – I would have happily stayed on longer otherwise to enjoy the band and the atmosphere (& of course a few more cocktails).
Cecil’s host ‘UFF Teas’ on Saturday nights – from what I gather, the UFF Tea is some sort of formal cocktail party complete with live jazz and claims to ‘bring 1930s Shanghai to life every Saturday night’. Guests are requested to arrive on time (by 7.45pm) and adhere to the specified dress code (which you can find on their website). I must admit, I am a little intrigued.
Dips Sips: Cecil’s is a nice candidate for a different sort of night out in the London Bridge area. Open until late, there’s live music, DJs and dancing. I’m not sure what the atmosphere is like mid-week, but if you’re looking for something fun and offbeat from the conventional bar scene, give this quirky nightspot a go. Entrance is free and you can ring up and reserve a table in advance (they have a private room to the side of the stage if you’re a large group).8 Holyrood Street, SE1 2EL Open Tuesday – Saturday 5.30pm till late www.cecilslondon.com