Bar Review: BackCOUNTER Lounge, Vauxhall in London
Hidden under one of the unsuspecting railway arches in Vauxhall, the location of BackCOUNTER is a brave but also brilliant move. This modern bar with subtle New York vibes has transformed one of the derelict arches, smack bang next to Vauxhall station; an ambitious addition to the over looked neighbourhood. Described as sumptuous and an intriguing place, BackCOUNTER is like two sides of a coin. 200 foot in length, one end of this endless space caters to a relaxed and slightly slower paced restaurant, lined with sleek dining booths and the other is the BackCOUNTER bar: live music, flashing hues and American inspired cocktails with a punch.
In an aim to ‘bring cocktail hour back to Vauxhall’, if there ever was one? BackCOUNTER seems a welcome companion to the area lacking with solely a main transport link. Their cocktail list of pride and joy twists the DNA of classic serves poured alongside cutting edge originals. The brain behind the cocktails, which are the backbone of this bar, is mixologist Leon Shephard from Washington DC, he explained to me his aim to bring the real kick and fire of cocktails from the States over to unsuspecting Vauxhall. Their ‘Must Haves’, or in other words, re-vamped classics, start from £9 and include: Cinnamon Fashion – cinnamon infused Grand Marnier coupled with Jerry and Ocean View – a new cocktail which includes Havana 3 year old rum, Blue Curacao Liqueur, coconut syrup and sweetened with the vibrant tropical taste of pineapple juice. A signature is the Vauxhall Vesper – a spin off from the signature Vesper Martini (originally made of gin, vodka, and Kina Lillet), the Vauxhall Vesper is revved up with Bombay Sapphire gin, Cointreau, Tito’s vodka and Martini Sweet vermouth – flavoured with orange bitters and has a real hard kick.
A sure favourite of ours was the Passion Politan, a twist on the traditional Cosmopolitan including chilli infused Absolut Vanilla and passion fruit puree for that spicy punch and garnished with a chilli prepared in house. This innocently presented cocktail was devilishly finished off with a chilli floating on top. More than one was ordered. Alongside, we were also dished up with their signature bar snack platter oozing American indulgence. Deep fried mac and cheese, mini pulled pork burgers, battered anchovies, veggie crisps and more.
Despite being restrained beneath the railway arch it doesn’t stop BackCOUNTER with their live music offerings. We were in on a Thursday which entailed their ‘BackCOUNTER Swing’ night of jazz and cocktails, running from 7-10pm every week. Other dates with live music and entertainment performances that keep the crowds coming in throughout the week is their ‘Friday Night Fever’, a slight contrast in atmosphere with a live set with ‘DJ Chillz’,8pm-1am, and happy hour from 5-9pm. Finally ‘Sassy Saturdays’ is hosted every second Saturday of the month which ‘promises to stage some of the most raucous shows by some of London’s most edgiest and debauched performers,’.
I aim to return and let people know that there is more to Vauxhall than meets the eye (initially!) Keen to go back for their brunch, I was told of a Bloody Mary with garlic infused vodka with the word bacon; a potential contender to the Bloody Mary offerings of London, maybe? BackCOUNTER is dynamic and conveniently placed, on any given day you could find yourself sipping on a cappuccino over a 9am breakfast meeting in their restaurant, and later that day be next to the beat of a DJ or jazz band with a Vauxhall Vesper cocktail in hand.
Address: 1rh, 51 S Lambeth Rd, London SW8 1RH / 020 3693 9600