North London's Cultural Guide

Ladies & Gentlemen cocktail bar to open in Kentish Town on Dec 12

The long-awaited and much fought-over subterranean cocktail bar takes over the former public toilets opposite the Bull & Gate. Owner Will Borrell talks us through what to expect

Look out for loitering soon: Borrell talks us through how the former toilets will look. Pic: Stephen Emms
We’ll all be loitering soon: Borrell talks us through how the former toilets will look (clue: not like this at all).
Pic: Stephen Emms

How did the idea for the bar start?
After resurrecting a small distillery in northern Poland five years ago and creating Vestal Vodka, I’ve been running pop-up bars and Vestal Voyages. I saw an opportunity for the disused toilets near my home and, two years of planning later, applied to change their use to a neighbourhood bar.

Describe your vision…
It might seem a strange concept but a neighbourhood bar is really a place much like that in TV’s Cheers, where regulars are encouraged to hang out after work and exchange ideas and thoughts. There’ll be banquettes and a counter to sit at, perched on stools. You can order craft beers, wines or cocktails. We’ll source ingredients from allotments locally and focus on seasonal menus (look out for my mum and auntie’s home-made sausage rolls and scotch eggs made fresh daily). There’ll also be a 16-litre copper alembic still for producing spirits with locally grown botanicals.

About to be transformed: the grubby public conveniences
About to blossom: the grubby public conveniences
What should we drink?
We’re still finishing our menu, but a popular one from our Vestal Voyages (which sail from King’s Cross) is a Proper ‘Anchor, served in a martini glass with aged Vestal Kaszebe 2013, grapefruit juice, agave syrup and Angostura bitters.

Other cocktails will include the K-Town Swizzle, a reduced vodka and cucumber offering, and a Nimby, a short negroni-style “bitter” drink in homage to the Nimby-ism and bureaucratic council who tried to block the development of the bar.


Ah yes, that. Have you got a message for locals?
I’ve sought to engage with all neighbours on this project as I feel it can add to the prosperity Kentish Town is currently enjoying. There were a handful of objectors – who I understand object to most proposals in the area – but mostly I’ve been overwhelmed by the support.

My hope is that people can see that small independent operators are at the core of what makes Kentish Town amazing, not the large coffee chains and national estate agents.

Ladies & Gentlemen opens “softly” on Friday Dec 12 (and properly the week after) at the junction of Highgate and Fortess Roads NW5. Cocktails from £8. Beers and wines £tba. Opening times 4pm – midnight. For more info, follow @ladyandgentsbar on Twitter

31 thoughts on “Ladies & Gentlemen cocktail bar to open in Kentish Town on Dec 12”

    1. Yeah, really stupid use of the long – term abandoned space. They should have built a Pret or Costa over it. Plus everyone knows you can get quality cocktails for £2 elsewhere.

  1. bit pricey for a local place, i expect to pay those prices on a night out, if im popping in somewhere after work in my local area thats i would expect the prices to be lower

  2. “Stupid and overpriced” reading this and other statements on recent posts, I can’t help but feel that this site seems to be moving closer and closer toward the comments I see on the guardian website. Of course everyone’s entitled to an opinion and this is a forum for them, and, there are of course constructive and genuinely excited comments, but then many…well, if it’s not nimbyism, it’s just abuse – what a shame – hope it doesn’t lead to its demise, as i for one love the Kentishtowner and embrace the change. Why not leave these toilets empty and closed, why not keep the fruit stall where it is at the expense of a restaurant opening in an empty and wasted space. Yes let’s do that and then complain when soulless new developments shoot up to accommodate inevitable change.

    Well done on the inventive use of space and for fighting to open your bar – i for one am excited to go 🙂

  3. Subterranean venues are fantastic, bog island in Bath was excellent. I predict this will be a great success. £8 for a cocktail sounds very reasonable to me, especially when you can easily pay €35 to €40 for large G&T in trendy bars in Paris. Shame I now live in Devon, otherwise I’d buy a stool !

  4. Fantastic news! We love a cocktail or two sometimes during the week after a good day’s work – you’ll see us there! With regards to price, it’s actually not high by London standards. And it’s good to hear quality places are opening in KT.

  5. 8 pound for a cocktail is reasonable! Maybe up in highgate/hampstead… Yuppies and yuppie prices have infected the high street enough thank you! We want OUR Kentish back!

  6. This is going to be fabulous for Kentish Town. Will is a true professional and has lived in KT all his life – a local through and through who only wants the best for the area..
    People who object to the redevelopment of grotty old public convenience are narrow minded….Will is taking a punt on this, sinking a load of money into it…and he will (slowly), through huge amounts of hard work, reap reward…no one else thought of doing this, it’s brilliant!
    By the way, £8 for a cocktail – in a fascinating venue with heating, lighting, music, staff and rent to pay – is a SNIP

  7. Can’t wait for this to open!! It’s great to see abandoned sites being opened up and put back into use. Also, isn’t £8 pretty standard for cocktails? Cheap actually, for good ones …

  8. I went to school with Will & find myself having to come to his defence as I have been in the industry for for too long now to listen to the sillyness of some.

    1.Better open & independent than abandoned.

    2.Ask for a double (50mls are standard in cocktails) & mixer in your local pub & it would be £8 if not more without the time & skill of a good bartender.

    3.if there are issues with prices then this should be taken up with Camden council as the rent & rates are ridiculous these days so that only big corp companies can afford to pay & kill any local area.

    4.I’m sure there are cheaper drinks on offer such as beer & wine.

    5.Go to a different place as I want my spot!

    Great to hear the news Will & hope to see you soon!

  9. Listen up Nimbies – the more i hear you bash places like this and Knowhere Special, Anima Cuore, Fields Beneath, Arrancini Bros and the like, the more determined I am to sink my ginormous pay packet into their wares. So the more angry and outraged you get on here – the more I’m going to prop them up financially and make them a success. I’m not alone. History will show who the obstructors were.

  10. William Borrell I’ll pop in for one sometime also glad to have helped with providing materials… BTW it’s Ryan from the counter in Jewson. 😉 good luck with it all

  11. Whilst Bull and Gate a PROPER historic boozer stays closed some Made In Chelsea cocktail vanity project is opening…. This is about Kentish’s image and soul. You call it regeneration I call it gentrification.

    1. Kentish Town Veteran

      Anon – I’ve lived in Kentish Town for over 35 years and the place has never been better than it is now. If you don’t like it then leave. You won’t be missed.

      1. Brilliant, so so true. Kentish Town is great now. My mother in-law grew up in KT in the 60s and can’t believe the change when she comes back, positive change that is!

        Best of luck to the owner of this bar, it’s great to see an independent bar opening, not owned by a Punch, Greene King or even Nicholson’s. My friends and I can’t wait to go.


    Could all the narrow minded people making negative comments NOT stop by the bar when it opens, your nimby vibes are not needed. Can’t wait for this new addition to Kentish Town, fair play to Will for getting this off the ground!

  13. kentish town fella

    only scum would go aginst this intresting project , fantastic idea .

    maybe unemployed people dont like the sounds of £8 but it normall to spend £15 for a cocktail

    I hope it stays open for long term as the rents seem to go up as soon as any business takes any money in kentish town.

    It easy to earn heigh cash these days via the internet these days, it nice to see someone make money via doing somethink instead of sitting in front of a pc.

    good luck to will , all the best mate , if you need computer marketing/promotions give us a tinkle.

    regards john

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