The newly opened 51% Bourbon Lounge is quite a masculine place to be.
Its theme of straight spirits, classic rock ’n’ roll and rough-around-the-edges American style seems to attract groups of lads more than anything, although that’s by no means a rule. In general there’s a mix of 18 to 35-year-old men, plus some smaller mixed groups but there is really no age limit here – and bourbon connoisseurs are more than welcome.
This place is 100 per cent bourbon, despite its name. There’s a mammoth selection of 70 bourbons, including normal, small batch and single barrel tipples. They range in age and price and are explained in depth in the menu. The oldest I spotted was aged 23 years, so if you like whiskey this is an absolute gold mine – but there’s not much else. A choice selection of bourbon cocktails and whiskeys that aren’t strictly bourbon are also available.
It’s refreshingly straight forward and unpretentious. As soon as you walk in the rose red lighting, dark wooden tables, chairs and casks combine with the rock ’n’ roll Bruce Springsteen backdrop to make you feel like you’re in some obscure yet relaxed log cabin bar in the States. It’s characterful, a breath of fresh air in contrast to the rest of the bar circuit and the friendly barman’s lumberjack shirt just added to the illusion on our visit.
Tucked away behind Call Lane, this warm little hideaway is above its sister bar, the Miami-themed SoBe Bar, in Hirsts Yard. It’s around the corner from the Space nightclub but far enough from the main Call Lane bars to make it busy but not too busy.
The 51% Bourbon Lounge is open from Tuesday to Saturday, from 5pm until late.
We went for a mix of well presented classic bourbon cocktails and straights, including an absinthe and whiskey Sazerac and bourbon-based Old Fashioned along with single shots of the quite bitter 10-year-old Eagle Rare and a smoother Echo Spring Bourbon, totalling a pretty reasonable £20.40.