With Crappy Meals - complete with Crappy Toy - a cocktail menu enclosed within Tom Cruise’s Cocktail VHS case, innuendos aplenty and a wall painting making a joke of Clapham Junction’s dogging reputation, Adventure Bar Clapham is infantile and oh so fun.
Adventure Bar is a playground for grown-ups. The bar isn’t very big but is well-proportioned to make the most of the space. Booths offer comfortable seating for those looking to settle in for the night while high tables and chairs or bar stools are good for a quick few drinks. Pride of place goes to two key tables, one nestled into a cosy alcove and the other situated in a cage of fairy lights.
But it’s not the layout of this bar that sets it apart – it’s the little decorative flourishes. Neon red lights spell out ‘Wait Here, I’ve Gone For Help!’ on one wall while another wall is emblazoned with the motto ‘Hot Dogging on Clapham Common’ in reference to the Common’s dubious reputation. A gramophone hanging from the ceiling behind the bar would be a little passé – ALL bars seem to have a gramophone these days – were it not incorporated so well into the food service. When food is ready the announcement is made through the gramophone, acting as a loud speaker. Then there are the menus; VHS cases filled with cocktail lists and blank video cassettes with various faux porn names.
Many bars try to be fun; many bars have 'crazy' bar staff; and many bars aim to make sure patrons are enjoying themselves. Few do it as well as Adventure Bar. Sure, the jokes are borderline cringe (‘this drink will have Nigella creaming herself’) and sometimes the staff seem to be having more fun than the customers, but it’s this that keeps energy high and people smiling. And that’s the great thing about this bar - people smile here. While many of London’s top cocktail bars take themselves very seriously, Adventure Bar is the polar opposite. And it’s all helped along by refreshingly feel-good eighties tunes.
There are only two options on a menu amusingly named ‘Crappy Meals’. Hotdog and curly fries or chicken wings in a sticky sauce with curly fries - that’s your lot. And that’s all you need. The curly fries are delicious - crispy, perfectly fried and with a slight saltiness that isn’t overpowering. The hotdog is huge, with a soft bun, a couple of sausages, onions, mustard, and ketchup. It’s gooey, messy and filling. The chicken wings are a little more disappointing - the chicken skin could be crispier, but the sticky, caramalised sauce with a hot kick is delicious. For £7.50 a pop, it’s worth every penny, especially as you get a free ‘Crappy Toy’ - bubble blower, anyone?
As you might expect, the cocktail menu at Adventure Bar is super fun. Shooters include options like Flying Saucers, Cookies and Cream, or Strawberry Bon Bons, priced at £3.50 (£15 for six). There are also nine long cocktails on the menu, all of which are signature drinks, although the staff can mix you classics off-menu. However, they are surprisingly expensive given the lack of exciting ingredients (all cocktails come in at £9-£9.80).
The Pornstar is based on the Pornstar Martini and is made with a passion fruit puree and is ‘served with a Prosecco strap on’... Hmm. It’s overly saccharine as a result, and although it’s girly and sweet, cocktail purists won’t necessarily approve. The Lemon Cheese-Shake is also particularly sweet, with rum, white chocolate liqueur, cinnamon, lemon, egg and mascarpone. However, it’s what you’d expect from a drink like this. Again, it’s hard to see how a £9.80 price tag is justified without some sort of homemade ingredient, exotic fresh fruit or unusual addition, but it’s very easy to drink and the shortbread rim is a nice textural touch. Pandora’s Box is more of the same – a little too bland, and watery, made from strawberries, mint, rum and Prosecco.
Luckily, this bar has an absolutely fantastic choice of bottled beer - a choice that is better than in many pubs. Anchor Steam, Anchor Porter, Brewdog Punk IPA and Duff (in a nod to The Simpsons) are just some examples of the great beers you can choose from. Even the commercial choice of Peroni comes as the very nice Italian original, Peroni Rossa.
The Last Word
Adventure Bar brings some much-needed fun to London’s bar scene and is a thankful antidote to all of the attitude of bars and clubs that cover Clapham High Street. Make it your local and you’ll never have a dull Friday night again.