Gone are the days where a classic cosmopolitan are enough to satisfy my cocktail desires. No no I want theatrics. I want entertainment. I want wow. Drinks with disappearing candyfloss, staff that burst into song, bars that are built in last century’s toilets… I’m seeking the strange, bizarre and unexperienced. I still thoroughly enjoy an Old Fashioned in a gold marble hotel but if I’m looking for new… I’m looking for more.
So you can imagine how my intrigue rose to the occasion when I heard about The Last Tuesday Society, a secretive London bar with its own tiny museum of curiosities. As well as serving a creative variety of drinks and light bites, the bar acts as the headquarters for the official Last Tuesday Society organisation, which devotes itself to filling the world with ‘beauty, wonder and imagination’. Led by Viktor Wynd – a unique character known for collecting and creating art – the society hosts a variety of experiences from fantastic parties to forgotten literacy, many events taking place at H.Q.
Warning: if you are squeamish about bugs, taxidermy, or skeletons I suggest you either buckle up or sadly skip this post... instead read this one for quirky cocktails or this one for a menu with a view.
Located in London Fields, the museum-cum-cocktail bar is only a matter of minutes from our flat and so quite rightly we had no excuse not to cure our own curiosities.
Upon entry, a narrow room is packed with taxidermy characters – workshops being their most regular event – with a steep spiral staircase secretly leading to the museum below.
Allyn and I decided to prepare for the unknown with a cocktail and cheese board, a mix of soft, hard and blue cheese from Raw Cheeses Power who sell their fromage at our local Broadway market.
We took a seat at the obvious choice table, where a somewhat intimidating chap was waiting for our company. Now I know you’ve all been dreaming of drinking cocktails with a lion in a top hat… well guys now you can make those dreams come true.
Scanning the menu I was already torn between a number of dangerously strange choices. Chilli pisco, cactus liqueur and a scorpion garnish?! This was even a little daring for me. And that was just the drinks. Other edible snacks included insect platters, Chinese red headed centipedes and chocolate superworms. My confidence in my ‘I’ll try anything!’ approach was weaning.
Sticking with our cheese board we picked less intense sounding potions.
First a Coconut Freak; a mix of ELIC vodka, sake, apple, lime, elderflower and of course coconut. Now if you’re a regular reader of my bar reviews you’ll know that my partner in cocktail crime can’t resist a fruity number, and boy he’s had a few. Well hand on heart, Allyn declared this was his best yet. It was strong but refreshing, sweet but not too creamy, and deliciously tropical with an English aftertaste of elderflower.
Again you may have also realised that me on the other hand likes a strong, some would say ‘manly’ drink. Whiskey, bourbon and spiced rum… with an Old Fashioned my weakness. With that said, the This is Not a Brothel cocktail was an obvious choice. Old Grand-Dad bourbon, rosemary infused sugar and old time bitters served on the rocks was like liquid gold. A surprising sweetness took the edge of the strong liquor, a herbal infusion bringing an earthier taste.
As we sipped our concoctions, repeatedly saying ‘we must come back here!’ the various wild heads on the walls became less intimidating and more approachable. Our dear Leonora kept us wonderful company before we moved on to explore the rest of the bar. Cabinets of bizarre objects lured us in, a tiny sample of what was to come downstairs in the museum.
As I stumbled down the griddle steps (trying not to get my stilettos caught for the millionth time that day), I became claustrophobic-ally encased within walls of small skulls, books, creatures and, well, odd things. A two headed lamb, a shrunken head from South America, squirrels playing cards… I was disturbingly encapsulated with intrigue.
After travelling the world, Vyktor Wynd returned with masks, heads and erotica. Some of the most incredible curiosities included a gold plated hippopotamus skull, once owned by Pablo Escobar. Where them Narcos fans at? The infamous Columbian drug lord built himself his own private zoo, filled with smuggled giraffes, elephants and his favourites, hippos. However one lovely beast didn’t make it through the journey and in true Escobar fashion, he honoured his lost pet by plating him in gold to be displayed in his office.
After his death, Pablo’s three remaining hippos bred to become a now estimated seventy animals. They still roam their original home and beyond, giving Columbia the only wild hippo population outside of Africa.
Other incredible finds included a genuine skeleton of a ‘wolphin’, (whale, not wolf mind…), teeny tiny fly-winged fairies that made havoc among the displays and a collection of art, sculptures and cakes by Magnus Irvin including a human size baked Pamela Anderson and Paul Robeson.
These are just a tiny insight into the hundreds of treasures among the cabinets. It was an influx of fascination.
Overwhelmed by the sheer amount of monsters and beasts adorning every gap, we escaped for a mere moment towards the back of the room where the monthly petting zoo was taking place.
Perhaps the main reason I had so wanted to visit The Last Tuesday Society was for their ‘Menagerie at the Museum’ event where a family of (live!) reptiles and bugs take over the space. An extremely friendly natural historian talked us through his lovable pets, showing us their impressive skills.
I was immediately drawn to Gizmo the chameleon who strut across the carpet before fixing her eyes on a wiggling worm.
Up above were Professor Green the python and Delilah the boa constrictor, sleepily wrapping their way around a male sculpture. Bob the bull frog hopped along the floor whilst Sophie the tarantula rested in her box, secretly enjoying the fact that us humans were too afraid to let her tickle our hands.
As I peeked into another part of the museum yet to be explored, I noticed a small pair of eyes watching me behind a row of written on shoes. Winston the bearded dragon, my soon to be best friend for the evening. As I picked him up to say hello, he jumped on my chest, snuggling in for some warmth and affection.
Allyn and I stayed there for the next half an hour, stroking these lovable creatures and glancing across to each other with eyes that read ‘oh please can we keep him?!’
Dragging ourselves away from Winston and Murray the praying mantis, we expanded our eyes to soak in every last object before making our way back up to the bar.
“How was it?” our waitress asked. “Wow… just… amazing!” was all we could stutter. We stepped out back into a world that now seemed so calm, so ordinary and PG. I already wanted to return. My curiosities had not been cured. In fact they had just been awakened.
Thank you to The Last Tuesday Society for hosting us on such a wonderfully curious evening. We will be back, again and again.