It is a great delight to me that the last decade has seen the revival of the cocktail bar. It makes me gladder still that the cocktail revolution has also meant a dusting off of traditional recipe books, as well as a focus on mixology and new ingredients and a complete ‘sayonara’ to the associations of the sickly sweet, deep-pile nylon sleaze of the 1970s, when a ‘cocktail’ was considered to be a Malibu and Coca-Cola.

One of the great advantages of band-wagons and trends is that more people are willing to take a risk to make a success, to rise above the competition. There will always be those who will stick close to the winning formula of recent times; Soho or Shoreditch location, Art Deco styling, classic cocktails on the menu, hipster waistcoats and copper everywhere, but it is reassuring when someone breaks free from this aesthetic straitjacket and experiments.

Nine Lives is not in a predictable location for cocktail bars. In the dark shadow of the suburban railway lines snaking out of London Bridge to the South East, an unspectacular entrance leads downstairs into a basement. So far, so ordinary.

Modern Times (1936)
# 38 on IMDb Top Rated Movies »

Robert Downey Jr. »
# 205 on STARmeter

An "underground" cartoonist contends with life in the inner city, where various unsavory characters serve as inspiration for his artwork.

It is a great delight to me that the last decade has seen the revival of the cocktail bar. It makes me gladder still that the cocktail revolution has also meant a dusting off of traditional recipe books, as well as a focus on mixology and new ingredients and a complete ‘sayonara’ to the associations of the sickly sweet, deep-pile nylon sleaze of the 1970s, when a ‘cocktail’ was considered to be a Malibu and Coca-Cola.

One of the great advantages of band-wagons and trends is that more people are willing to take a risk to make a success, to rise above the competition. There will always be those who will stick close to the winning formula of recent times; Soho or Shoreditch location, Art Deco styling, classic cocktails on the menu, hipster waistcoats and copper everywhere, but it is reassuring when someone breaks free from this aesthetic straitjacket and experiments.

Nine Lives is not in a predictable location for cocktail bars. In the dark shadow of the suburban railway lines snaking out of London Bridge to the South East, an unspectacular entrance leads downstairs into a basement. So far, so ordinary.

Modern Times (1936)
# 38 on IMDb Top Rated Movies »

Robert Downey Jr. »
# 205 on STARmeter

An "underground" cartoonist contends with life in the inner city, where various unsavory characters serve as inspiration for his artwork.

Outside Nine Lives, the newest project from Sweet&Chilli ,   the bar’s only real tell-tale sign of existence is a tallied number nine logo. Adorned across a vintage leather jacket, on the bar’s website , the logo looks as though plucked from a Dead Kennedys or Black Flag album cover. It’s so punk, in fact, it’s surprising that BrewDog haven’t yet bullied the group into submission .

With so much social consciousness and focus on food waste in 2017, Nine Lives’ entire operation adheres to a zero waste ethos. Drinks are split into Shorts, Talls, Tarts, Lowriders and Loops. Shorts and Talls are quite self-explanatory, while Loops focus on reused key ingredients. Nine Lives use the juice, skin and oils of lemons in cocktails, for instance, then redistill the pith to release further essential oils, used to make both liqueurs and hand soap. Any small leftovers are then neutralised and composted to aid the herbs growing in the bar’s back garden. Everything at Nine Lives, even down to the bamboo straws, is reusable.

From the Talls section, ‘Ômu Kooler’ is a refreshing blend of bitter Campari and sweet, juicy watermelon, with the pertinent ingredients well balanced to avoid each overpowering one another. The drink is then finished with a homemade cucumber soda water, which brings more of a thirst quenching, refreshing quality: perfect for a warm summer evening. From the Tarts, ‘Camber’ is essentially an up-to-the-minute dry martini. Here, gin is teamed with typical white vermouth, with the addition of kombucha – a fermented tea that brings profound earthiness to the drink, adding further complexity to this twist on a bona fide classic.

It is a great delight to me that the last decade has seen the revival of the cocktail bar. It makes me gladder still that the cocktail revolution has also meant a dusting off of traditional recipe books, as well as a focus on mixology and new ingredients and a complete ‘sayonara’ to the associations of the sickly sweet, deep-pile nylon sleaze of the 1970s, when a ‘cocktail’ was considered to be a Malibu and Coca-Cola.

One of the great advantages of band-wagons and trends is that more people are willing to take a risk to make a success, to rise above the competition. There will always be those who will stick close to the winning formula of recent times; Soho or Shoreditch location, Art Deco styling, classic cocktails on the menu, hipster waistcoats and copper everywhere, but it is reassuring when someone breaks free from this aesthetic straitjacket and experiments.

Nine Lives is not in a predictable location for cocktail bars. In the dark shadow of the suburban railway lines snaking out of London Bridge to the South East, an unspectacular entrance leads downstairs into a basement. So far, so ordinary.


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