Lounge Lover has certainly been through the motions for the past couple of years. 2012 it was the Shoreditch centre for sushi and the fashionable, 2014 brings with it tolling church bells of Buddha Bar-esque anonymity.
I’m not entirely sure what the look was they were going for, but in the line of similarly styled bars as 98, and the Looking Glass, ‘oppressive’ may have been it. The chaotic, smattering of various paraphernalia with no central theme running through it except ‘quirky’, was a bizarre trend of the late noughties that favoured no one except the most precise. Because ‘cute’ it most certainly ain’t.
After being shoved in a scorching hot (and loud) corner of the bar (‘I’m sorry, it’s just hot here, there’s nothing we can do’), and a server repeatedly forgot our orders before dropping our drinks smashing onto the floor, we finally got our hands on something to sip on.
Let’s start with the fairly decent one and make our way downhill from there. The Jubilation is Beefeater gin, muddled green and red grapes, elderflower cordial & lemon topped with Rose champagne. This is fairly successful as far as champagne cocktails go, which get lost in the bubbles – hence the necessity of the champagne being balanced with another spirit, the gin here. But, like most drinks with elderflower cordial, it begins to drown out the flavour. Eventually, you get a muddle of flavours you can’t quite dissect – which seems to be a theme at Loungelover (as most amateur cocktail bars – where, in lieu of a short, but carefully considered menu, you have a long long long list of less well-considered drinks. Apparently size matters; the length of the menu to bars, at least).
The Unfaithful : Cachaca, rhubarb, plums and pear was similarly muddled, with the fruits not quite syncing well with the cachaca. And the Angel’s Share, of Havana 7yr old Rum, apricot liqueur, homemade lemongrass and ginger syrup with muddled kumquats and kaffir lime leaves tasted entirely of apricot with a bit of ginger at the end.
Service was slow, due to how crowded the place was. Many groups of people were standing at the bar, while several tables suited to fit a dozen people would only have about 5 persons drinking there.
Loungelover feels like a haunting memory of when cocktails came back in a big way to London in the noughties, and feels confused in the modern state of the cocktail world. In the future when cocktails warp again, many of the currently excellent bars will get lost in the past as well – immortality in the bar scene is rare. Especially with bars like Loungelover that bet all their money on being fashionable instead of innovative.
1 Whitby Street
London E1 6JU