Nine Lives in Bermondsey
Have you ever noticed how often you’ve been served a cocktail with two little plastic straws in it? And how you don’t even tend to use those straws to drink from? It’s a considerable waste of plastic, and it’s not the only issue with sustainability the bar industry has. Imported citrus and tropical fruit are notorious offenders; the profusion of paper napkins in most bars serves little purpose, and the volume of food waste can be shocking. Thankfully, more and more venues are paying attention to these kinds of problems, and doing everything they can to reduce their environmental impact. Bermondsey’s new Nine Lives is one of them – go for the good intentions, and stay for the highly quaffable results.
You’ll find Nine Lives in a slightly unexpected location, down a quiet backstreet a short hop from London Bridge, but its pleasingly graphic sign draws you in like a beacon. Down the stairs, and the basement bar is all bamboo furniture, leafy greenery, and soothing shades of teal. It all feels like you’ve stepped into a sophisticated beachside watering hole, which just so happens to be underground. It’s a great place to pop in for after work drinks or for a post-dinner nightcap, with plenty of space for groups to lounge in comfortable chairs and velvety banquettes.
The menu is currently short and sweet, with a subtle tropical theme running throughout. The Kuti Bird is a lovely light twist on the classic tiki style with vodka, a rather intriguing sounding “tropical triple sec”, pineapple, and Aperol, fetchingly topped off with a bamboo straw – no plastic in sight!
All cocktail tastes are happily catered for – there’s the light and floral Alright Blossom in a delicate shade of pink, with raspberry, hibiscus, and rose notes arranged around a Prosecco base, while the Ômu Cooler is a long drink with a surprising hit of bitter Campari looming over a refreshing watermelon and cucumber soda. The unusual selection of short drinks will appeal if you want something strong and punchy – try the Moby Dick with its inventive blend of salted caramel and whiskey fatwashed with coconut oil.
All this is backed up by some serious effort in the sustainability department. A garden at the back of the bar is growing a range of fruit and vegetables, which the team hopes will eventually supply their planned snack menu – it’s lovely to see courgettes, tomatoes, melons, runner beans, and lemons (to name only a few) blossoming on a compact terrace in the shadow of the Shard.
It’s even more pleasing when you notice that the plants are tumbling out of repurposed speakers and filing cabinets. There’s a pretty serious composting system at work that will easily produce enough liquid fertiliser for Nine Lives and possibly the community garden that fills up the alley at the back of the bar as well. These are cocktails with a conscience – let’s hope it catches on!
★★★★★Drinks ▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮Service ▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮
Photos: Matthew Pull
To book a table at Nine Lives, 8 Holyrood Street London SE1 2EL, call 0207 407 8226 or visit the website here.