I’ve never worked in the City, but I remember going out there many years ago with Gibson, because it was a good halfway point between my office in London Bridge and hers in Farringdon.
Heading back a few weeks ago for a drink with Louise, I hoped we wouldn’t end up in some hideous meat market, or a pretentious party bar stuffed to the rafters with braying 22-year olds…which I reckon sums up about 80% of City drinking holes. Fortunately, we had designs on The Four Sisters Townhouse, whose Islington cousin I’d heard good things about.
It’s an absolute bugger to find though. Hidden at the end of Groveland Court, a narrow, cobbled path near Mansion House tube station, I managed to walk past the secret dead-end entrance three times without spotting it. (Pro tip: keep your eyes peeled for a framed poster on Bow Lane that points you in the right direction.) It’s quite exciting, actually; think Sweeney Todd’s favourite bolthole and you’re pretty much there.
Once you’re inside, you step cleanly back in time. Imagine, if you will, that Charles Darwin is redecorating his dining room with the help of Severus Snape. And they’re both really into their boot sales. And House of Hackney wallpaper. It’s chock-a-block with stuffed animals and mysterious, vaguely occult objects, which makes it a great first date venue. If you get tongue-tied with your fancypal, you can always talk about the creepy marionette playing gooseberry.
Cocktails are king here. I won’t describe the ones I tried in too much detail because they change their cocktail menu weekly. Yes, weekly. Which effectively means that the bartenders know about a million recipes, so you can say something like, ‘I fancy a long drink that’s smoky and maybe a bit sour, but no vodka,’ and get exactly what you didn’t know you fancied. The bar is brimming with homemade bitters, curds, foams, syrups, sodas and cordials, so they can make some pretty weird stuff. You do get a lot of booze for your buck here – I consider myself pretty well-versed when it comes to great tankards of poison and boast the liver of a pirate to boot, and even I was smacking my lips.
There’s a lunch menu available Monday to Friday, because only psychopaths and lost tourists lurk in the City at the weekend, but in the evenings they do sharing boards to nibble on over cocktails. Our cheese board did just the job, and didn’t skimp on the chutney (very important).
As I said, this place really shines as a first date venue, though the chilled ambiance and ever-changing cocktail menu will keep you coming back for more with mates and your cooler clients, if you have the kind of job that involves plying people with alcohol. Or all your other first dates, I suppose (you scoundrel!)
The Four Sisters Townhouse, 5 Groveland Court, London, EC4M 9EF
Author: Carla Juniper
Carla is a proud Putney-dweller and newly-minted vegetarian. She loves pickled beetroot and experimenting in the kitchen, especially when accompanied by a very large glass of wine, which is known to aid creativity and culinary prowess. In her spare time she uses her degree in Illustration to create bespoke digital portraits (you can check our her work here).
She also sucks at the flying trapeze.