Discerning Drinking Ch34: The Lucky Pig

I found myself walking to The Lucky Pig as the sinusitis kicked in, precipitated with a dose of orange – yes, ORANGE – goo coming from my nose and fighting the throng of angry commuters pouring from Goodge Street Station, on one of those London nights where it wasn’t quite raining, but if you didn’t have an umbrella you would regret it.  I didn’t, and did.  It was going to take a special kind of bar to right this perfect storm of wrong.

The ‘Pig is hardly perfect.  It’s location, in uncharted Fitzrovia, somewhere grubby, south of the BT Tower – is well off the beaten track, though we stumbled upon Bubbledogs as we made our way there.  It’s on Clipstone street.  Does that help?

Actually, it’s below Clipstone Street, in an old cellar, accessed by a flight of those rickety, slippery staircases you see hanging off the side of Manhattan tenements.  The whole location – inside and out – seems like an afterthought, though intentionally so, in that kind of downtrodden, like-I-give-a-damn way that, for my sins, really does work rather well in setting the scene and readying the wallet.  Inside, you are treated to toilets whose doors are marked with Patsy Stone and Michael Caine, walls without paint or paper, arbitrarily adorned with pseudo-retro poster prints of curvy fifties gals.  All this is offset with plush and ample seating arrangements, where everyone – latecomer or otherwise – will win.  The mixture of deep armchairs, futons, chaises longues and cushioned alcoves inspired me to write my last post, inspired by a bar that has finally got bumparking right.  Hallelujah!

Bog porn a la Tramshed...

Bog porn a la Tramshed…

Now, spare seating does mean that the ‘Pig was not full… of course, a half-empty bar does get the mind racing as to what it could be that is preventing the townsfolk from settling here.  I doubt it’s the backwoods location – Londoners, what with their fraught lives and penchant for the darkness can sniff out a good bar a mile away.  So we allayed the nerves and got on with some serious drinking in this self-styled ‘decadent drinking den’.

The cocktail menu, all priced at nine-fifty, transcends all four corners of the mixologist’s spectrum, from sweet to bitter, from classic to original.  The bon-viveurs will not leave disappointed nor wanting, though from such a menu expect a few metaphorical balls to be dropped.  The steal of the evening was a well-thought out Breakfast Martini (remember that?!), awesome in its tartness and citrusy linger (though a toast garnish was lacking).  But then again, does gin ever disappoint?  The other day, someone who’s cropped up called Elle argued the case a lot more articulately than I ever could;

“…that’s because cider tastes like tramp’s wee, whereas gin is like licking the beads of sweat off the brow of an ancient bacchanalian goddess”

Other highlights from the ‘Pig included the rum section, where a Trinidad Swizzle was perfectly sharp and spicy and just the right side of weird, whereas the Cuba Cuba was served in a hurricane glass, so the fact that it was made with wine, pineapple and passionfruit and was summery as shit is completely irrelevant.  The Isadora Belle was all about strawberry, raspberry and prosecco, a little too fruity (even for me) but still good and lickable.

Whereas most the menu was a hit parade, some things came across as a random collection of ingredients, mashed together because they sounded right at the time.  The Martini Royale brought together lime, mint, prosecco and Martini Bianca.  Despite good intentions, it all seemed to collapse into itself and at the end of the day, tasted like water.  Having said that, I was snotty so maybe, just maybe I’ll concede that on this occasion, it was my taste buds, not the gregarious chap behind the bar.  On that note, there is no waiter service so, like Argos, you pay and collect.

Empty glasses (and funky chairs) are a good sign

Empty glasses (and funky chairs) are a good sign

We left earlier than I would have liked as frankly, I was feeling like my nose had a bendy bus stuck up there, and a combination of no lunch, paracetamol and three rounds of strong liquor had left me yearning for the recorded Holby City then a warm bed.  But you better bloody believe I’ll be back, as The Lucky Pig rocks.  It may be dressed down as a trendy, mock-vintage ubiquitous undercroft of alcoholic capers – delivering all that is promised – but it’s friendly down here too and comfortable, in both the mental and literal sense.

Above the Lucky Pig a section of pavement is punctuated with those glass blocks.  Lit from above by a street light, the shadows of passers by flickered on our table as we drank.  Even that was a different experience, warming and clandestine, further inspiring feelings of “yes, this place is a keeper”.

Cocktails all at £nine-fifty, bottles of wine from £twenty to £thirty.  It does food too but we couldn’t see any menus and being all polite and British, didn’t like to ask…

theluckypig.co.uk | @TheLuckyPigW1 | 0207 436 0035 (takes reservations) | 5 Clipstone Street, Fitzrovia WIW 6BB

Square Meal


© Mike Dalley, February 2014

© Mike Dalley, February 2014

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