Earlier this week, I had a pleasure of joining @Janan_Jay on a PR visit to the new Dirty Martini Bishopsgate venue. We were treated to a couple of cocktails and a sharing platter as they wanted to showcase the new digs and menu. I hadn’t been to a Dirty Martini in a couple of years as my previous experience being a fairly cookie cutter bar with average drinks – not something I tend to return to in a city full of new and interesting places. And while DM isn’t going to win awards for uniqueness (but what chain ever could?), the new look definitely has its appeal both in appearance and the killer happy hour deals.
Where is it?
The entrance is on Bishopsgate across from the main Liverpool St Station entrance. Depending on which direction you are coming in – actually really from any direction – it’s a bit hard to spot, but if you look just to the right of the Tesco, there should a sign and a door leading some stairs.
What’s changed from the old DM?
The look has gone from the old school dark woods and brown faux leather to a sleek and modern design. The colour palette is lighter with more faded pink and soft greens to balance out the darker woods and the massive wall art has a Japanese flair reminiscent of the Final Fantasy movies. The net effect is more effortless chic rather than in your face cool.
Seating is centred around small tables and booths with an emphasis on sitting and chatting although the area directly in front of the wall length bar is standing room only.
Talk to me about the Happy Hour offers!
Get your drink on with half off any martini, Prosecco cocktail, or bottle of wine. On that last one, there may be a restricted selection on offer but it’s not clear. Given the wines range from £17.50-35 a bottle, they may generously let you target the full menu. If you fancy a beer, Asahi is available for £2.95 a pop.
Martinis and cocktails usually ring in at £9, so half off is pretty much a steal and will set you on your drinking way without too much pressure on the wallet. If we were paying normal prices, our 4 cocktails and sharing platter would have clocked in at £35-40 including service. That’s not too bad for a City catch up.
How are the martinis?
Taste-wise, the martinis are quite good, particularly for the more mainstream bar that DM is. We tried the Mango & Chilli (light and refreshing with just a bit of heat), Blood Orange & Vanilla (very tart and juicy without enough balancing sweetness), Apricot & Grapefruit (a bit bitter but enjoyably so), and the Chocolate Martini (decadent and delicious and Janan kept stealing sips!).
Overall, I found the drinks to be on the weak side, particularly for martinis, so I’d estimate about 1-1.5 shots per martini at the most. But they are very enjoyable to sip while chatting with a friend which makes DM a perfect mid-week spot to catch up. If you feel a bit tipsy, grab one of the sharing platters (we tried the seafood one – excellently cooked and nicely spiced) to help absorb some of the booze.
Ah but it’s full of bankers, isn’t it?
You are on the edge of the City, and the sheer number of offices around means you can’t help but deal with bankers (myself included!) and other suits. Particularly given the happy hour deals, I’d expect to see this place fairly packed with the office crowd on Thursdays/Fridays. From talking to Seth (our host for the evening), Saturdays are busy but with a mix of Shoreditch hipsters and Duck & Waffle suits while the earlier part of the week is fairly quiet. When we were there on a Monday, it was mainly half a dozen groups of 2-3 chatting away and thankfully the music wasn’t too loud as to make it a chore.
As with anything in the City, tailor your expectations to the day you go, but given the relative newness (it only opened September 2013) and the off-street location, I’d say it’s a good place to keep in mind for your mid-week post-work drinks.