Fifty Five Bar and Lounge proves that a good cocktail bar doesn’t have to be pretentious and overpriced to deliver quality mixology. Just be prepared for the huge selection.
A short walk from Camden Town station, just off the main high street on Jamestown Road, Fifty Five Bar and Lounge is really easy to find. Once inside, you'll be taken aback by the relaxed feel of the place. If it's winter, the burgundy walls offer a cosiness often missing in cocktail bars and in the summer the large glass windows flood the place in light, so you don't feel cooped up. The laid-back ambience is further emphasised by the black leather sofas and seating with low tables. There's funky artwork, mirrors on the walls and pretty chandelier-style lampshades.
The bar is set across two main levels with a third floor in the basement. Be warned though, ladies – if you're in massive heels the stairs can be quite steep and it's a balancing act to get up and down them, especially if you've knocked back a few cocktails.
Unlike other 'hip' bars in the surrounding area, it really doesn't matter what you're wearing at Fifty Five Bar and Lounge. It's really relaxed here and appeals to everyone from twentysomething Camden caners to smartly-dressed after workers. The staff are friendly and extremely well trained - they look as if they're enjoying the night as much as the punters who've come in for a drink.
The music policy here fits in with the modern Camden scene and sways away from ubiquitous cheesy commercial music - you're more likely to hear The Friendly Fires as opposed to Britney. There's no live DJ but the bar has a long play list with hundreds of electro, indie and rock tunes expertly chosen by the bar staff to heighten the party atmosphere - here, the bar staff are the DJs.
You'll be amazed by the sheer volume of cocktails on offer at Fifty Five Bar and Lounge. There are around 180 cocktails on a menu that’s changed annually. All of the drinks are reasonably priced, too. You can expect to pay £5-£7 for cocktails and the bar has great 2-4-1 deals Monday to Saturday from 6pm-8pm or all day Sunday, and 2-4-1 mojitos all night on Mondays.
If you're after a tequila-based favourite but fancy something with a twist, it's definitely worth trying Tommy's Margarita (£6.30). This San Francisco born short drink tastes strongly of alcohol although it’s not overpowering. Whereas a regular margarita contains Triple Sec, Tommy’s Margarita utilises Arette Blanco mixed with organic agave syrup and freshly squeezed lime juice, which gives the drink a sweet kick without being too sickly.
If you're after something more fruity and sweeter, it's worth trying a Raspberry Collins (Russian Standard vodka, raspberry puree, raspberry liqueur and lemon juice sweetened with sugar and topped with soda; £6.30). Whilst the lemon juice gives it a nice twist, the raspberry is the strongest flavour and it nicely muddles the generous serving of vodka. If you prefer something sharper, try the Hemingway Daiquiri (rum, fresh grapefruit juice, lime and cherry juice; £7). Although fresh grapefruit juice is an acquired taste and might be too sharp for some, it nicely complements the rum and is well balanced by the cherry juice.
If you're not a fan of cocktails then there is a wine list containing seven whites, seven reds and two roses. Prices start at around £3.70 for a glass of Italian Pinot Grigio del Veneto. There's also a selection of Champagne from £32 a bottle.
The Last Word
Great staff, delicious cocktails and a laid back atmosphere – Fifty Five Bar and Lounge delivers on all counts.