North London's Cultural Guide

Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to cocktail quarter

With a third stylish underground bar set to open in disused public toilets, central K-Town is being reinvented as the go-to destination for a posh libation

Brilliant: original signage at the soon-to-be Ladies and Gentlemen bar
Yuck! Rusting original signage at the disused toilets, soon-to-be known as Ladies and Gentlemen. Photo: Will Borrell

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.

Expect upmarket libations and posh snacks
Expect upmarket libations and snacks. Photo: Will Borrell
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.


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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.

Ladies and Gentlemen will open this spring. Find Shebeen at 300 Kentish Town Road, and Knowhere Special at 296 Kentish Town Road

15 thoughts on “Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to cocktail quarter”

    1. There’s nothing like a proposed new bar with late hours to bring out the worst in Neighbourhood Aasociations. No doubt even the Kelly Street one will get involved as it did with Shebeen, even though it’s nowhere near their doorstep.

  1. Alexander Greene

    Excellent way to regenerate an unused space. I hope Kentish Town councillors support it. London needs to allow innovation to remain the wonderful city it is.

  2. Exciting prospect! More independent little places like these are just what Kentish Town needs – I intend to frequent all three! I’d like to address the doubters and state that Kentish Town will never become ‘the new Camden’; we’re more of a sophisticated sibling – without the sticky dance floors and bad sound systems. Bring on the Cocktail Quarter (it might even raise your house prices . . . )

  3. andrea thompson

    This is a great thing for the area. The disused toilets are currently an eyesore. This can only improve the area and is part of Kentish Town’s ongoing regeneration. Cant wait!

Leave a Comment

15 thoughts on “Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to cocktail quarter”

    1. There’s nothing like a proposed new bar with late hours to bring out the worst in Neighbourhood Aasociations. No doubt even the Kelly Street one will get involved as it did with Shebeen, even though it’s nowhere near their doorstep.

  1. Alexander Greene

    Excellent way to regenerate an unused space. I hope Kentish Town councillors support it. London needs to allow innovation to remain the wonderful city it is.

  2. Exciting prospect! More independent little places like these are just what Kentish Town needs – I intend to frequent all three! I’d like to address the doubters and state that Kentish Town will never become ‘the new Camden’; we’re more of a sophisticated sibling – without the sticky dance floors and bad sound systems. Bring on the Cocktail Quarter (it might even raise your house prices . . . )

  3. andrea thompson

    This is a great thing for the area. The disused toilets are currently an eyesore. This can only improve the area and is part of Kentish Town’s ongoing regeneration. Cant wait!

Leave a Comment

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