London’s New 'Alcohol-Free Cocktail Bar' Is Not a Bar
Juicing is not a conversation. Almonds are not a way of life. And Redemption, a West London bar serving mocktails and "sugar, dairy, wheat, and meat-free" food is not a bar.
Photo via Flickr user Ivana Vasilj
The other day, while languishing in my own filth on a particularly vicious hangover, a kindly friend walked by and dropped a handful of ice and a vitamin C tablet in my pint of water. Between sad but grateful spiced rum burps, I suggested that in the not-too-distant future, I could totally imagine being charged £5 for a "Berrocktail" served by an over-friendly Australian on an upturned oil drum (sorry, "pop-up refueling station.")
"Imagine!" we rofled. "What a world we'd have to live in for a thing like that to happen."
Turns out we didn't have to imagine for very long. In fact folks, it looks like we all fell asleep on the bus and it terminated at cuntsville, because an "alcohol-free cocktail bar" is set to open in Notting Hill. After unprecedented success as a series of pop-ups across London, Redemption will take up residency in West London's smuggest postcode later this month.
Serving mocktails like the "beet-o-tini" (£5), you are now free to consume drinks that taste like soil shaken like over ice and served in (you'd better believe it) a jam jar. Promising customers the chance to "spoil yourself without spoiling yourself" with an array of "booze, sugar, dairy, wheat, and meat" (and joy)-free delights, the bar also does food. Gird your loins now, because Redemption—hashtag lean, hashtag clean, hashtag raw, hashtag gluten free—is coming to an Instagram feed near you.
I'm not really sure how this all happened so quickly. It feels like only yesterday the language of mung bean was strictly spoken by health nut super witches who wanted to wake you up at 6 AM and look at your poo in a Tupperware container. Even the glam green juice squad who swanned in a few years later with their stringy necks and toned pelvic floors couldn't sell it.
But then the young guns rocked up, so deliciously smug and so deliciously pretty that it suddenly became permissible for someone in your office to hold an entire conversation about milking their own nuts, in which not a single person is allowed to laugh. These people don't do a couple of Sunday pints at the pub or a bottle of wine and a massive spag bol. They might, however trick you into attending their booze-free cocktail party where absolutely everyone is talking about activating almonds and absolutely nobody knows what it means.
It doesn't matter how many pictures of symmetrical avocados you liked on your commute, we both know that before bed last night, you ate 17 Chocolate Hobnobs standing over the kitchen sink (there are still crumbs in your collar bones).
It is because of these hot young #grinstagrammers and their nice knitwear that we now inhabit a world photographed entirely from above, soundtracked by the deafening grind of a Nutribullet. It is one that smells inexorably of coconuts and pungent kale trumps. It's birthday cakes that crumble into dust through your fingers and cautionary tales of death by Kingsmill.
Every day, a new lean, clean prophet will pop unexpectedly into your life. Peering around computer monitors, they'll tell you gripping stories about their friend Emily who once had a Boots Meal Deal at Victoria Station and farted herself inside out. When you return home these days, it's not to wine and bread, but to a wreckage of abandoned Spiralizers and the stench of damp, reheated cauliflower "pizza."
It might be very pretty to look at but this world is teaming with guilty part-time vegans in a culture of feast and famine that seems to be running out of interesting stuff to talk about. And I can't help but question whether to enjoy a soft drink, it really needs to be served under a neon sign, tossed in the air, and poured over ice by a man wearing a fedora.
The thing is, we're all weak-willed little piggies who would rather have a bowl of Coco Pops and a bottle of Mondelli Blush for dinner than some wet strands of courgette and green tea. Pretending otherwise is quite a tedious charade and the fact that Redemption plays into a this attention-seeking, Saint-and-Sinner discourse is what makes it so galling.
Because it doesn't matter how many pictures of symmetrical avocados you liked on your commute, we both know that before bed last night, you ate 17 Chocolate Hobnobs standing over the kitchen sink (there are still crumbs in your collar bones). And yes, it was quite silly of you to drink all of the Glenns at that house party, so maybe this weekend just don't drink all the Glenns? If you think about it, a visit to Redemption is quite an expensive way to boast about your hangover.
Pray, please stop talking about Coca Cola like it's crystal meth. Everyone is very interested in what phase of your "raw cleanse" you're in, and I'm sure Susan from accounts is not at all bored off her tits looking at Insties of your "apple mock-jito," but couldn't you have saved her quite a lot of fake enthusiasm by, I dunno, just having an apple or something? And if you were for one second thinking about asking me to sponsor your "Dryathlon," don't. Just don't.
Let us all do our best to remember that juicing is not a conversation. Almonds are not a way of life. And, as God is my witness, Redemption is not a bar.
- Notting HIll