Come for the happy hour, stay for the happy staff. And the bolero cocktails – seriously, once you've tried one, you'll probably walk over hot coals for those things.
Part of a chain of bars, this Be At One sits on trendy Upper Street in Islington, nearer to Angel tube and amid myriads of European restaurants and cafes. The layout feels well thought-out; lots of intimate corners and booths to tuck yourselves into and comfy sofas so you won’t want to go anywhere for a while. The décor has a feel of a New York loft – exposed brick and wooden panels. There’s an upstairs area (soon to be used for cocktail master classes) that opens up when the bar gets busy, which is most nights. The bar staff may even regale you with tales of how crazy and packed the place was the night before. They’re pretty believable too, and you may vow to return on a non-school night, even though Sunday does see happy hour lasting until midnight.
There’s a really chilled but grown-up vibe to Be At One, despite the fun tone of voice in the menus and signage. The staff are incredibly chatty and knowledgeable. Within ten seconds of ordering drinks you may be shaking hands with the barman and telling him your name, and soon you’ll likely be furnished with stories and recommendations. That’s what you want from a cocktail waiter really, isn’t it? Somebody who knows his menu inside out and can tell what you’re going to like just by looking at you.
We’ll say it again: try a Bolero and thank us later. This ice cream cocktail is laden with Malibu, mango and passion fruit, but the real kicker is the vanilla ice cream. You’ll feel like a five-year-old with a delicious milkshake and a rather tipsy grown-up drinking a luxurious cocktail, all at the same time. And you don’t even have to force yourself to drink it slowly (which is frankly impossible) because, if it’s happy hour, you’ll be getting two for £8.20! If you’re not a fan of Boleros (you crazy fool!) there are 100 more cocktails to choose from, like the Matt the Rat (rum and triple sec) and the Lychee Martini. True cocktail connoisseurs might turn up their noses at some of the concoctions and claim they’ve had better, and yes, they probably have. These aren’t the most technically impressive or stunningly presented drinks in the world, but they’re tasty, varied and darn good value when it’s two for one.
The Last Word
If variety is the spice of life, Be At One could make one heck of a curry. There are so many drinks to choose from here, there’s doubt anybody will leave disappointed. Hit happy hour if you can and you’ll feel like a child in a grown-up, boozy sweet shop.