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Simmons (Bar)

Picture of Simmons in Kings Cross, London

32 Caledonian Road, Kings Cross, London, N1 9DT
Cuisine: [Other/Unclassified]
Tel: 0207 278 5851 | Email to Simmons | Transport: Kings Cross St. Pancras | Write review

Simmons Review

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Best for: tea parties with a difference.
 
Great: kitsch, quirky décor.
 
Tea is a quintessentially integral part of British society. No doubt if you want to pass your British citizenship test, you probably have to make a semi-decent cup of tea for the immigration officer to get your stamp of approval.
 
It was almost my civic duty, therefore, to explore Simmons bar in King’s Cross. It is a tea party with a difference, perfect for a model citizen like me.
 
Before I proceed any further, I do have to clarify, we are not talking about the kind of well-mannered afternoon tea one can enjoy at the Ritz; and not even a cup of tea with that lonely looking Tetley’s tea bag in the cupboard. The tea cups and teapots at Simmons bar are all filled with alcoholic cocktail concoctions.
 
Walking in, the first thing that catches the eye is the wall which displays shelves adorned with endless beer cans; upwards of one hundred beer cans, collected from all over the world. Then, you notice the assortment of pastel coloured lampshades, the vintage typewriter, the retro posters and the old school desks.
 
Everything in Simmons bar could have been bought in a car boot sale, but somehow they have that knack of arranging it to look like something out of Alice in Wonderland. I am the Mad Hatter and I’m here to find that tea party.
 
One thing you can’t buy is the bar’s centrepiece: the skull-shaped disco ball dangling from above, oh-so-suitably kitsch and eccentric. An ordinary tea party this is not.
 
We had actually walked in to someone else’s party, a late running event promoting various skincare products. There I was chatting away about anti-aging creams and skin masks whilst sipping on cocktails from teacups. Who said having afternoon tea with the ladies must be an insipid affair?
 
The star attraction was, of course, the cocktails. The list of cocktails - in keeping with the afternoon tea theme - includes such sweet delights as Toblerone, strawberry cake, chocolate cake and pineapple upside-down cake. Mary Berry, drink your heart out.
 
As in the great British bake-off, simplicity is the key to success. The chocolate cake is a shooter consisting of vodka and Frangelico (yes, it does taste of chocolate). The pineapple upside-down cake is a shooter consisting of vanilla vodka, pineapple juice and grenadine. Unlike the real thing, these cakes have a lower calorie count and there’s no bloated guiltiness afterwards.
 
Of all the “tea” options offered, the must try is the jamble, made with gin, Chambord, fresh raspberries, raspberry jam and cranberry juices. The presentation is superb: two shapely raspberries placed on the edge of the teacup. Plus, it has an interesting backstory: Elliott, the bar manager, created this cocktail after meeting his dream lady in the States. It’s one of those rare examples when description, presentation and taste are matched to perfection. I can safely say this was the sexiest cup of tea I’ve ever had.
 
If you come as a group of ladies (or men), order the teapot; it’s a great cocktail serving for 3-4 people. At the time we went, the French martini seemed particularly popular with the skincare crowd.
 
The menu is written in an irreverent, jokey manner – “The Chinese Whisper – loads of crap in this drink”, “Toblerone - this cocktail is disgusting” - which makes you feel like you are amongst friends discussing tea varieties (Chinese tea – strong, the Swiss don’t have a clue about tea).
 
Unlike an actual afternoon tea set at the Ritz, beverages don’t cost the earth. Their ultra-long happy hour from 4-9pm includes £2.50 beer, white or spirits with mixer. I had to rub my eyes a few times to make sure it said TWO pound fifty and they have an offer for most of their cocktails served in a tea cup by offering two for £10.
 
My only complaint, which is also a compliment, is that the cocktails are drunk far too easily. Without the multitude of crushed ice in normal bar cocktails, it really did feel like I was drinking tea; as we all know, tea is dangerously easy to imbibe.
 
It really made for a welcome change from the lazy nights out in the pub having a pint of lager and watching football. Simmons is a great bar for chatting with friends, exploring new cocktails, and even hosting the odd skincare event. It's kitsch, it’s quirky, it’s what I imagine the Mad Hatter’s tea party would look like.
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