There has been plenty of noise over the years about banning ‘Happy Hour’ - the after-work drinking session that is apparently responsible for every social ill from ASBOs to our ‘broken society’. I’m surprised it hasn't been blamed for the credit crunch.
However, from a social rather then political perspective, there has been a feeling that their time had passed. They became something to avoid rather then seek out, and were noted for being anything but ‘happy’. Yet in London they have been given a new lease of life by B@1, the chain of London pubs that specialise in cocktails.
Occupying a space smaller then your average MD’s office, B@1 in Spitalfields brings together high stools and benches, shaded interiors and low lighting, and a thumping '80s/retro soundtrack to produce a seemingly never-ending nightclub (read: dark) ambiance. Even at 4pm.
The bar is managed by a team of highly skilled and very efficient cocktail makers - or mixologists as they like to be known. Six, eight or even ten drink rounds are no problems for these strapping young men who pull off the trick of mixing a huge range of drinks while exchanging high fives and chatting up the female customers, all with a style reminiscent of Tom Cruise and that Australian bloke in the '80s .
And it is just as well that they are good, as B@1 Spitalfields knows how to pull a crowd. City folks have been quick to take advantage of the seven-day-a-week, 2-for-1 cocktail Happy Hour, meaning that on Friday nights, in particular, the bar can be three deep with thirsty punters. There are plenty of outside tables for good weather, and downstairs there is a snug which is as big as it sounds. But there is no getting away from the fact that the place gets very busy. Fortunately these guys are good at their jobs, even if some of the cocktails can be a little sloppy compared to what you might get served in nearby LoungeLovers.
B@1 Spitalfields is a top venue to start the evening, and by the look of the punters that were starting to dance when I left, it’s not too bad a place to end it either. And if you are not blessed with natural patience when it comes to waiting for drinks, I suggest you do as the regulars do, and order up large. After all it is Happy Hour.