Bar Tab: A Bar with Shapes for a Name, Hoxton, London

Two book nerds met at A Bar with Shapes for a Name one recent Friday night. One sat at a high dark wood table the colour of strong tea, fortunately engrossed enough in her paperback not to notice (or to be able to affect not to notice) the taller one trying three doors before he succeeds in entering. They exchanged the awkward greetings of those with plenty to catch up on, and negotiated an agreement on how long – eleven years – it had been since they last met, before turning to the suitably stark-set paper menu. “You had me at Bauhaus” she says, with the confidence of one once married to an architect. The first round – birne (whisky, pear, olive and sage) and pastel (vodka, rhubarb, reconstituted lime and capreolous raspberry) provides enough transtemporality to ease them back into the fervent wordplay that formed the basis of their original friendship – what makes a raspberry capreolous? Is it a form of capriciousness? Or related to the sunset? Would raspberries be crepuscular? – and the years fall away. More drinks follow – sotolon (gin, apple, fenugreek, gentian and agave) and atlas (whiskey, mezcal, dulce de leche and tonka) as the evening crowd around the low-lying and uncluttered bar ebbs and flows and the light from Kingsland Road fades to an orange glow to match the interior. How do you compress more than a decade into two rounds of drinks? You skip lightly over the negative and dull, order a third – バターで切る (whisky, butter, vanilla and rice) and pronounced in near flawless Japanese and toreador (tequila, apricot, agave and lime) – and focus on the bold headlines and the invite to Benny from Abba’s chalet, which might just provoke a fourth. “We should do this again”. “We should. By the way, have you read…”. Once a book nerd, always a book nerd. (232 Kingsland Road, London. @a_bar_with_shapes_for_a_name_). Read more Bar Tabs here.