Communion Bar review: Sin away with an eclectic mix of cocktails
To anyone not down with the kids, Camberwell and Peckham is fast becoming one of the trendiest parts of London with a burgeoning nightlife featuring some great venues. As a South Londoner, I’m always on the lookout for new, local drinking dens to meet friends at so I was intrigued to hear about Communion Bar on Camberwell Church Street, which opened in May 2014.
On a recent Thursday night, a friend and I went along to sample some of the artisan cocktails and also try a bit of the tapas from its accompanying restaurant Angels & Gypsies upstairs. Entering the bar, you take some steps down to basement level and are immediately greeted by stunning stained glass style interiors. Seating is a mix of leather-clad benches and church chairs, adding to the Holy theme. Each table include a glass of red Communion wine and some wafers should you wish to give yourself Communion! However, we were in the mood for being a bit more naughty – well it is a cocktail bar – so went straight to the extensive drinks menu.
As well as the interiors, what sets Communion apart from so many of its contemporaries is the unique cocktails, with many being inspired by South London and the melting pot of cultures living in the surrounding areas. To start with, we ordered a Tannery (Vodka, Araku rum coffee liquer, Nigerian guiness foam and chilly chocolate) and Cracked Sky (Chartrouse Green, Bristol Caribbean black spiced Rum, Grenadine & Old Jamaican Ginger Beer served with house pickled ginger). My friend absolutely adored the Tannery, which was sweet and packed a punch, while I found the Cracked Sky refreshing and had a nice kick from the ginger.
Next up, my friend – a gin connoisseur – chose A Sit Down (Home made sloe gin, citrus and chestnut honey from Catabria) – a short citrus drink with a sweet twist. I decided to stick to rum and opted for the Uncle Mauby (Pineapple wine, fresh Granadilla Colombian passion fruit, white and dark rum, Mauby bark syrup and lavender sugar), which was certainly an assault on the senses with its smell and variety of flavours. I would actually say it was my favourite drink of the night – having also enjoyed sips of my pal’s drinks too.
As it was a ‘school night’, we ended after our third cocktails. I ordered a Likkel Rascal (Appleton Rum, Kraken, Jamaican Sorrel, pineapple, nutmeg syrup and orange juice), which was rich with Caribbean flavours through and through. It was pretty strong, but served on plenty of ice so you could ease into it. My friend was feeling more adventurous and chose the Dry Cherry Ilegal (Ilegal Mezcal, juice of grilled Sicilian lemons, Cherry Marnier and Bitters. Served straight up with Amarena Cherry sugar rum), which was sweet, but very boozy.
To accompany our drinks, we also opted some tapas from upstairs to nibble on, such as Spinach with chilli & garlic; Patatas pobres (sliced potatoes with sweet pepper, garlic & rosemary); Oyster mushrooms with chilli, garlic & parsley; and Gambas al ajillo (prawns with garlic). The portions were of a good size and the varying herbs and sauces made each one rich in flavour. I will have to check out Angels & Gypsies restaurant upstairs next time I’m in the area.
During our drinking session, we were also entertained by a band playing samba and pachanga. The bar has frequent live music and DJs from soul, funk, Latin and blues acts so it’s worth checking out who is performing. On Fridays and Saturdays, it’s open until 3am. As well as the unique cocktails, I also loved the wide variety of glasses or jugs the drinks were served in. The Likkel Rascal particularly was served in a tin can with its name emblazoned on a colourful label. The staff were also brilliant – very attentive and helpful and explaining all the weird and wonderful ingredients. For those looking for something a bit different from their usual cocktail bar, Communion is the place to go. The hours whizzed by as we drank our way through the cocktail menu. There’s still plenty of cocktails left for me to try so I will be back!
- Communion Bar, 29-33 Camberwell Church Street, Camberwell, SE5 8TR. Tel: 020 7703 5984. Nearest train station: Denmark Hill. For more information, visit the Communion Bar website.
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