It was a quiet Tuesday night. The streets of Bournemouth were dulled with the subtle illumination of the streetlights above. Slowly walking up the hill that leads to our apartment, Han and I were on our way back from the cinema after watching Atomic Blonde, a retro 80s spy thriller, when we were caught by the colour of an illuminated neon sign somewhere in the distance…
It was a name we knew from our past. First discovered in Oxford (alongside the Handlebar Cafe), the Be At One brand had become somewhat of a beacon of hope for us during our city escapees. After trialling many bars (well, three) in Oxford, we had become fed up of bored bartenders recommending overly expensive drinks that tasted like fermented bleach, and whilst pondering whether to call it a night and simply go home, we stumbled upon this very brand.
A time again, when in London after a long weekend, searching for a bar to catch one last drink together on a Monday night, Be At One’s signature neon glow caught our eyes and lured us in. Just like Oxford, the London venue was perfect, and so the possibility of having that same vibe on our doorstep here in Bournemouth… Well, expectations would be high.
So there we were, standing underneath this familiar sight, both silently turning to meet each other’s eyes with a huge grin sprawled across our faces. In unison, phones were raised and google was loaded, desperate to find the date of the opening, and to see if we might be able to attend.
Through the power that is social networking, Han got confirmation of the opening date and that it would be fine for us to bring my camera as our plus one. As well as good intent to network and write this post, we decided it would be pretty apt to celebrate our 6 month anniversary, and so after getting all dressed up we embarked upon the lengthy two minute walk down to what would become our new favourite bar.
Let’s start with the atmosphere. Walking down the steps to the bar you’re immediately met by waves of music, neon lighting and the buzz of the people filling the bar. Both the (ridiculously-friendly) staff and venue nail the balance between that ‘exclusive’ feel, making it a place you really do want to dress up for, against the chill, fun and friendly atmosphere, meaning you could turn up in joggers and a tank top and know you’d still have a good time.
For Han and I, it’s the bartenders that absolutely make the place. With every song that comes on, they’re all singing along, they’re all dancing, but most importantly, when you ask “Hey, recommend me a drink?” – they’re on it. Though we’re not sure on official numbers, the amount of cocktails on the menu is simply insane, so much so that their drinks menu is 27 pages long, with a good 8 cocktails per page. It’s slightly mental.
(Update: There is around 150 cocktails on the menu!)
The menu starts with a ‘flavour wheel’, that the staff use to refer to what kind of drink you might be after. Smooth, creamy, sweet, spicy, smokey, refreshing, fruity, dry, bitter or sour, there’s a descriptive for whatever mood you might be in.
From there, each category has it’s own subcategories of base alcohol, with drink recommendations from there. It’s all pretty technical, but makes you feel like a know-it-all when you come to order, know exactly what it is you’re after, and exactly how it’s made.
Being something of a rum-lover, it at London’s Be At One that I discovered my favourite drink: The Dark & Stormy, whereas Han stuck to her classic Woo-Woo. This time however, after a drink or two we decided to put our lives into the hands of the manager, asking “give us two of your most visually appealing drinks please”, and whilst still catering to what he knew we would like, this is what he and his bar staff created:
Though our photography at this time in the night may have not done them anywhere near enough justice, the rum-based Painkiller and fruity Pornstar Martini went down a treat, and so our eyes were just as pleased as our tastebuds.
Altogether, we had a good time. We kinda knew we would, but we still came away feeling impressed and knowing we’d be back soon enough.