Drinks in Docklands reach lofty heights, 48 floors up in the sky. As such, a trip to Attic is best saved for clear days.
The Pan Peninsula building is a waterside residential development in the purpose-built financial district of Canary Wharf and finding an entrance that’s not for residents is not simple. It’s not by the fountain, nor is it round the side of the building, but try through a restaurant that bears no relation to the bar instead (it’s called Tompkins, by the way). There is a small notice board to the right of the door, however, with a poster revealing the word ‘Attic’. Perhaps Attic wants to stay a secret?
Entering into the busy bar and eating space of Tompkins you must wait to be greeted if it’s the Attic you are after. You are then led behind the bar into a lift lobby that accesses the apartments. Your Attic accomplice must stay with you as lift buttons will only work with a trusty key fob. The 48-floor journey could get a little boring, but rest assured a TV in there will take your mind off the ear popping journey, which actually takes no time at all. The L-shaped space has windows along the whole edge, giving views out towards Canary Wharf, the Gherkin and the O2 Dome in the distance. The adjacent wall is shiny with built-in TV screens advertising the bar. Booth sections of seats here have perfect views facing outwards.
Where the end of the room curves into a complete right angle is where the black shiny bar sits, highlighted by lots of interchanging, flickering lights. Brown leather bar chairs look like a comfy place to prop yourself up for the night or adjacent brown leather sofas are a good place to kick back. There are also plenty of square box stools scattered around by the low circular tables so groups of friends can get together for the evening. A sliding patio door right at the end allows smokers to get their fix.
Weekdays are a relaxed affair, with the majority of clientele appearing to be residents – a handful of couples and friends in pairs spread out on the comfy sofas and individual lounge chairs. On quiet nights, the bar opens until 10-11pm as low melodic house music plays in the background, but on weekends a DJ will keep you there until 1am. High up above the city, light pours in from the windows until dusk, when the glow from various floor lamps glimmers red or green. The bar is also lit with flickering lights in rainbow brights and a black shiny ceiling panel is back-lit with more interchanging shades. Attic has a very modern, yet simultaneously dated disco feel.
Bar snacks are sparse and expensive for very little sustenance – eating at Tompkins as you exit may be more appealing. Pistachios (£4) could tide you over until then, otherwise wooden platters start at £20, with the vegetarian option the cheapest, including flat breads, houmous, sun-dried tomatoes, falafel and olives. A vegetable and fish selection with calamari, halloumi salad, prawns and fish cakes is £23 and the meat selection (£26) includes mini burgers, pigs in blankets, chicken goujons and duck spring rolls. A mini pizza selection of four varieties is also £26.
Dizzying heights need to be accompanied by head-spinning drinks and the cocktail list won’t disappoint. All from a reasonable £7, these won’t break the bank like some cocktails with views do, and they come served with fresh fruit garnishes. Champagne cocktails are £10 a glass and include the popular Bellini and Mojito Royal. Try the bar’s namesake though, The Attic, for a refreshing blend of sloe gin, berry liqueur and strawberry puree with the addition of Prosecco fizz poured on the top. An Espresso Martini (£7) is definitely one for the end of the night, vodka, Kaluha, Baileys and crème de cacao, topped off with coffee beans in the perfect Martini glass.
Champagne is fitting for the sky-high space and starts at an average £10 a glass for non-vintage Lanson black label or £12 for Rosé Pink Label (£65/£70 by the bottle). More pricey options by the bottle include three bubblies on the luxury list. Spirits can also be bought by the bottle, from £90 to £200 for vodka, £90 for gin or up to £120 for rum. Wine is slightly higher than averagely priced, starting at £6 by the glass for the house white and costing up to £9.50 for a South African red. Beer is limited, with bottles of Heineken costing £3.80, but this isn’t really the beer-drinking kind of place.
If the heights are dizzying enough then mocktails might suit; £5 each and just as refreshing as the real deal. Spring Punch, another pink drink, is served with strawberry and raspberry purée, apple, cranberry and lime juice and topped with lemonade.
The Last Word
Fabulous if the sun shines and pretty after dark, the views make Attic well worth a special visit, but the bar won’t suit for your regular after work drinks – unless, of course, you’re lucky enough to live in the building.