A case of fashion over function, East Bar at Sketch is somewhere every trendy Londoner should experience at least once.
Sketch is handily located a short walk from Oxford Street and is an assault on the senses from the moment you walk in the door. The East Bar is located through the beautiful Gallery restaurant and is hidden away at the bottom of their feature toilets. As soon as you enter, the diminutive size of the bar strikes you. This is a place where size really doesn’t matter. Like a goldfish bowl, the bar itself is sunken in the centre, surrounded by a few low stools with further sofa-style seating wrapped around the periphery of the space. Granite tables are a nice feature and a DJ booth nestles rather elegantly against the wall. The overriding feeling here is one of pure fashion. The lights are so dim – cast as dots of light through mesh covered bulbs – that it makes reading the cocktail menu near impossible and the music is so loud you’ll barely be able to hear your neighbour. Still, this is fashion darling, who needs practicality? This extends to the loos upstairs, a collection of egg-like pods that play strange sounds like airplane sounds or woodland chirruping. The only clue as to the male and female sides of the communal space is a pink light or blue light low on the floor – blink and you’ll miss it. Cue lots of confused faces trying not to let it show. And the mirrors? Warped to make you face look huge, they are trippy to say the least and not so good after a few cocktails.
This is where East Bar really earns its stars. Although the decor is hardcore fashion the atmosphere is effortlessly trendy. Model types and those casually fashionable Londoners you see in Vogue’s street fashion pages make up the main bulk of the clientele and lend a very cool edge to the bar. There isn’t much in the way of space here and it gets very busy so ensure you arrive early to get a seat. Otherwise, don your best model pose whilst standing. The staff are incredibly knowledgeable and know their craft and it really shows in the passionate way they put together the drinks here.
The cocktails at East Bar at Sketch are inventive, well mixed and include some innovative combinations of ingredients, although they are on the expensive side, priced between £13 and £15. The rosemary martini (Smirnoff Black, basil, vanilla syrup, rosemary infused vodka, sugar, salt, pepper, pineapple and apple juice) is a stand-out cocktail expertly combining unusual ingredients. The rosemary flavour permeates the drink pleasantly, complementing the sweeter flavours from the juice and vanilla with a kick of alcohol that lingers in the mouth. Alternatively, the Black Star (blackberry, Grey Goose, vanilla syrup, olive oil, apple juice and cranberry juice) has a layer of olive oil on top of the drink that adds a soft, light edge to the cocktail. However, the flavour is mild and is borderline insipid, despite the interesting twist. Far better is the 1796 (Santa Teresa Gran Reserva rum, Baileys, double cream and dark cacao), especially if you're after a girly drink. The creamy, decadent mix is lifted by the dark cacao and is very easy to drink. The shots are also expertly mixed and the whole menu is tempting, meaning you can visit several times and not tire of the selection.
The Last Word
East Bar at Sketch is a unique drinking experience that you won’t get anywhere else in London and, as such, is definitely worth adding to your must-visit, once in your lifetime list.