Psssst! Want to hear a secret? Cleverly concealed among the corridors of the unobtrusive Chelsea Cloister apartment block, is Barts - the not-so-secret and oh-so-quirky speakeasy, significantly raising the bar of the Chelsea nightlife scene. Perhaps, that’s what makes it the perfect Sherlock Holmes-esque disguise: inconspicuousness. Reminiscent of the roaring twenties, this alluring late-night setting offers an intimate evening with just the right dose of Chelsea class. Embody Al Capone circa 1926 and experience this prohibition era inspired venue, for a little taste of something that should be anything but prohibited.
Unsurprisingly, Barts isn’t one of those places you will ever accidentally stumble across. Finding a place like this takes time, planning and a little bit of orientation expertise. Upon discovering the well-hidden entry door, apprehensively ring the buzzer to be welcomed into a small, tranquil space that simply oozes atmospheric intimacy. Dimly lit and charmingly decorated, Barts represents a little piece of speakeasy heaven, providing you’re undeterred by a taxidermy. The surrounding walls are adorned floor-to-ceiling with wonderfully ornate knick-knacks; beautifully cluttered and providing hours of visual stimulus. From the comically made-over Mona Lisa replica to the bold, braces-wearing bartenders, every cosy corner of Barts has been intrinsically detailed to perfection de l’Americana.
Music: Jazz, Soul, Live
Dress Code: Smart
Train Station: South Kensington
Address: Barts, Chelsea Cloisters, London, SW3 3DW
Classic, low-key Louis Armstrong brilliantly sets the mood at the beginning of an evening at Barts. Gin-lovers gorge on a bitterly balanced Osborne Sours and Whiskey connoisseurs sample the delights of the distinctive Black Bourbon. A side of Chimichurri thin chips are the perfect light-bite accessory to Barts’ expertly shaken cocktails and give a tasty kick to any friendly get-together. At around £11 per cocktail, prices may initially seem steep but after tasting them, you’ll soon realise why. As the comfortable surroundings begin to fill up, the earlier subtle soundtrack seamlessly slips into modern, dance-inducing tunes that go hand-in-hand with Barts’ wonderfully eccentric menu of stellar, handcrafted cocktails. With its tipple-filled top hats and live weekly performers, Barts offers that week-long entertainment, which we never realised we needed so badly up until now.
It’s true, we Londoners are renowned for our utter disdain toward anyone daring to enter our personal space for even a nanosecond, however, the beauty with Barts is that it still feels so cosily cramped. Not only that but the concealed nature of the venue means you and your fellow bar companions all feel as though you share a wonderful secret. Add that to some wickedly potent cocktail creations and suddenly you no longer seem to care that a complete stranger is sat closer than is probably comfortable even for a first date. From brushing shoulders with flush bankers to sharing shots with some of Chelsea’s swankiest socialites, Barts’ unconventional mix of clientele is perfectly in keeping with the overall fabulousness of this cosy little cubby-hole.
Barts’ wonderfully weird and elegantly eccentric all at the same time - a foundation that certainly stands out from the usual cocktail bar setting. With not even a hint of pretension that often goes hand-in-hand with some speakeasies, it’s simple to understand why Barts is profoundly self-proclaimed as London’s worst kept secret. Sure, it may be hard to find at first, but that’s kinda the point and makes the final discovery all the more rewarding. Plus, elusiveness makes things far more in demand anyway right? If it was that easy to find mob man Capone, he’d have been a pretty crappy gangster.