As someone who does not make a habit of frequenting champagne bars this Barfly was not too sure what to expect on a midweek visit to Epernay in the Electric Press building in the city centre.
Although a confirmed sparkling novice, this cosy corner drinking spot impressed me from the off with the bar staff happily explaining the different flavours of a pinot noir blend to those made with of the chardonnay grape.
After a sampler of a few, I settled for a glass of the Louis Roederer, a smooth choice for an after work drink.
Champagne glasses were hung from above the bar counter where menus are to be found listing 13 different champagne options by the glass, priced between £7-12. There is even more choice if you are staying for a bottle.
Red, white and rose wine all get a look in too, reasonably priced from £6 a glass and £18 a bottle.
Turning to the cocktail section there is a plethora of options including long and short drinks. The opening page promises that any classic cocktail can be recreated for you at the bar if they aren’t among those on the menu.
The list has Epernay’s own stamp on it, with house-concoctions proving tempting.
An ‘Auld Allies’ caught my eye. This whisky drink contained Scotland’s Monkey Shoulder, France’s Gran Marnier and a spoonful of marmalade, all served up in a frosted, ice-cold glass and it hit the spot.
Other combinations included ‘Storm in a tea cup’, a cup of tea with a ginger twist - think Earl Grey, Hendricks gin and ginger beer.
Any bar specialising for premium tastes had to be good if it is to stand the test of time and Epernay is now into its 11th year serving its discerning clientele. On my visit, there was an after work party and a middle aged couple, music unobtrusively adding to a relaxed atmosphere.
Down lit, candles were placed in empty champagne bottles on round sheening dark-wood tables; a leather backed bench along one wall. Fairy lights are fixed above the bar and on a wall dotted with small black framed pictures of the champagne-making process. This is the kind of ambiance that suits a date or a hangout for couples.
Wooden floorboards, turquoise painted walls and yellow flowers protruding from more champagne bottles complete the look.
The longevity of Epernay speaks for itself and it is easy to see why it remains a fixture. For a champagne bar there is little pomp and pretension, just a cosy spot with great service and lots of choice whatever the tipple.
Finishing off with a bottle of Curious IPA, made in Kent using three different types of hops, the bill came to £22.10.