It's not the kind of place you'd stumble upon on an evening out, but this intimate cocktail bar pulls in the crowds night after night without even trying.
If you're the sort of person who likes to be 'in the know' and hang out in cool hidden underground bars, you'll love Happiness Forgets. Tucked away beneath Mediterranean cafe Ruby, it doesn't draw attention to itself; there's a sign at the bottom of the stairs but you wouldn't notice it if you didn't pop your head down to look. Clamber down the steps and you'll find yourself on a tiny patio complete with table and chairs for smokers. Through the front door is Happiness Forgets, possibly one of the smallest cocktail bars in London and easily one of the darkest. You'll be met by bar staff who'll direct you to a table if there's one free. This place gets very busy and, with room for only 50 people, it's wise to book ahead or turn up early.
The decor is minimal. Brick walls are painted red and, well, that's about as much as you can see since it's so dark down there. Given that this bar seems so secretive (check out the website, you'll be none the wiser other than learning they don't like 'wallies') and tiny - and has a pretty intriguing name - you'd probably expect Happiness Forgets to come out pretty high on the quirky scale. But aside from a collection of drinking paraphernalia in the corner, there's very little novelty or kitsch here. It doesn't feel as though they're going for the speakeasy theme, they just want to focus on good cocktails.
There's a great vibe at Happiness Forgets. Thanks to friendly, fast table service and comfy seats, everybody's in a relaxed mood, but there's a rather loud hum of chatter since the place is so small. If you arrive before 7pm you may just bag yourself a table, but leave it much later and the bar really fills up despite the clandestine location. There's a mix of punters, but mostly Hoxton locals and workers file in from surrounding Old Street and Shoreditch offices.
Happiness Forgets is one of those bars that other bartenders go to thanks to the quality of their cocktails, so you really want to try one or two of them while you're here - although there are only about ten on the menu, so not an enormous choice. The Amelie, a mix of vodka, yellow chartreuse (a sweet French liqueur) and Sauvignon Blanc with lemon and grapefruit, is delicious and really refreshing - like a more exciting white wine spritzer. The Perfect Storm is a delicious blend of dark rum, honey and ginger juice with a dash of plum brandy, tasting like a grown up Dark and Stormy. Both are £8.50. If you're after wine, you'll get a glass of house white or red for £4. You can also have yourself a pint of Meantime London lager (£4) or Coopers Pale Ale (£4.50).
The Last Word
If you're a fan of cocktails you should definitely give Happiness Forgets a go. Service is quick, the bar staff know what they're doing, and the atmosphere will instantly relax and perk you up, all at the same time.