Nestled down an unassuming side street near London Bridge, a warm, wood-scented lobby welcomes guests into a bar full of intrigue and texture. Woven lampshades decorate the open-plan space and a forest of greenery and bamboo add to the tropical vibe.
The team behind world-class consultancy firm Sweet&Chilli have opened their first bar, Nine Lives, a super-cool, neighbourhood Tiki-style spot which champions a no-waste ethos – so patrons can enjoy the beautiful décor and fresh, fun menu, safe in the knowledge the project is contributing to a more sustainable future.
Company directors Allan Gage, Emma Hutchison and Tom Soden, whose previous mission has been to educate bar professionals about their craft, have turned their attention to their own establishment, a little oasis in the foodie district of Bermondsey Street, SE1.
‘Nine Lives is a total passion project,’ said Gage. ‘It’s a blend of all the things that make Sweet&Chilli tick – superb service, tasty drinks, mad styles and music we love. Just a place we want to bring mates to; it's the proud result of lives spent behind bars.’
The bar menu, curated by Soden and his consultancy team at Sweet&Chilli, has been inspired by many years behind bars and is categorised by Shorts, Talls, Tarts, Lowriders and Loops.
Loops are drinks where the team have reused key ingredients, from re-distilling lemon pith to produce essential oils which are used in liqueurs and hand soap to composting ingredients to use as fertiliser for the bar’s backyard herb garden. The team have also done away with plastic disposables, instead providing branded bamboo straws, yours to keep for £1.
Instant classics include the Omu Kooler – a refreshing mouthful of watermelon-infused Campari and cucumber, and Moby Dick, a sweet, delicious shortie with coconut oil-washed grain whisky and salted caramel syrup.
An honourable mention must go also to the bar’s shuffleboard table – an addictive addition to the bar which adds to its chilled out atmosphere.
Combine all this with a great mixture of tracks oozing through the sound system, re-purposed from the events industry and you’ve got a quirky yet unpretentious hangout – with great drinks – that really has its heart in the right place. Cheers to that.
Nine Lives; 8 Holyrood Street, London, SE1 2EL; Monday – Saturday, 5pm-late; 0207 403 8293