How evocative is this decaying original sign from deep within the derelict toilets at the junction of Fortess and Highgate Road?
And, although it’s long been on the cards to those in the know, now the secret’s out: a glamorous new subterranean cocktail bar is set to open right here in the heart of Kentish Town, a pitted olive’s hurl from Shebeen.
A joint venture between local boy William Borrell – whose Vestal Vodka brand is already stocked in swankier nightspots – and the website Bar Chick (under the name Rocksteady Bars), the venue will be called, unsurprisingly, Ladies & Gentlemen. The offer, says Borrell, is bespoke cocktails alongside high quality, home-made bar food.The project is some way off opening, however. Proposals, now on the council’s website, argue that the bar will “contribute to the vibrancy and attractiveness of the town centre” by re-using public toilets “privy to vandalism” that have been shut since the mid 1990s.
Earlier this year, Borrell sent us some detailed artist’s impressions of the interior, which show a chic back-lit bar, plenty of wood and obligatory white tiling – just in case anyone forgets what the space was once used for (and yes, we imagine there will be a scrubbed urinal or two too).
Eagle-eyed readers may recall that this new venture follows the launch of nearby bohemian speakeasy Knowhere Special, which opens officially later this month (although you might be lucky if you swing by this weekend as they’re operating a “reservations-only” policy).
And, lest we forget, the lounge that kicked it off, Shebeen, forms the third peak in this libational triangle – or, as sybarites might be tempted to christen it, Cocktail Quarter.
In fact, we were in there only the other night ploughing through their poitin menu. Recommended is the Italia 90, a moreish take on the negroni using the Irish hardstuff mixed with vermouth and Campari.