Grab your compass and plan a trip to the Society of Exploration.
Are you gripped by the spirit of adventure? By plane, train, or automobile, get thyself to Charing Cross, where a new cocktail bar dedicated to exploration will throw open its doors this week. The Society of Exploration is the latest brainwave of the rambunctious Mr Fogg’s group, who’ve also given London this spiffing gin parlour and this verdant watering hole. Now you can quaff cocktails celebrating the many travels of fictional figurehead Phileas Fogg – which includes sampling them from inside a train carriage.
London’s habit of drinking in train carriages took a hit when TfL outlawed drinking on the Tube back in 2008 (though not without a fight, as London elected to throw a farewell party that took over pretty much the whole Circle line). Happily, the Society of Exploration joins Cahoots as spots where you can chug on the train without falling afoul of the law. They’ve put in a life-sized model of an Orient Express carriage, in a neat throwback to the days of luxury travel. Southeastern could learn a thing or two…
The rest of the Society of Exploration is pretty luxe, too. The Map Room is home to a collection of antique and modern maps, whilst the main bar is stocked with squashy leather armchairs. Decor possesses a distinct Victorian flair, with portraits of famed explorers, and a giant globe charting Phileas Fogg’s journey around the globe. The Society of Exploration is also planning on throwing events, with talks from explorers and ‘spirit safaris’ making for intriguing evenings.
Expect the drinks to hew pretty closely to the travelling theme; the Society of Exploration is promising a menu exploring far-flung corners of the earth. You can expect libations inspired by the Sahara Desert, the North Pole, and the Great Barrier Reef, amongst others. There’s also a whimsical machine that kickstarts the making of your drink when you press the button – it’s cheaper than a bartender’s salary after all. Nibbles come in the form of croquettes, cheese boards, and – for those with more exotic palates – mealworms, crickets, and grasshoppers. Hey, this bar is all about the spirit of adventure, so it’s about time it rubbed off on your appetite!
Location: 1A Bedford Street, Strand, WC2E 9HH. Nearest stations are Leicester Square and Charing Cross. See it on Google Maps.
Opening hours: 5pm-12am (Monday to Wednesday), 4pm-12am (Thursday to Saturday). Closed on Sundays.
Price: cocktail pricing is still TBC, but expect it to be similar to the chain’s other bars – starting from around £9.
More information: from their website.