There is something eerily compelling about Charles Dickens’ portrayal of the grotty Victorian cobbled streets of London. Although fictional, his stories provide a gloomy insight into an unrecognisable place compared to the cosmopolitan city we know of today. Yet London wouldn’t be London without a good dose of Victorian grit; intrigue surrounding a darkly Dickensian London still remains. With this in mind we decided to explore Victorian London and go on an inspired adventure at The Four Sisters Townhouse – an elegant, intimate cocktail bar tucked away in the cobbled streets of Bow Lane, an area which features prominently in Charles Dickens’ novels.
‘Tucked away’ is almost an understatement when it comes to The Four Sisters Townhouse. After walking around the block several times we eventually discovered this gem of a bar hidden down an alleyway off a side street. Surrounded by neighbouring pubs and restaurants, The Four Sisters Townhouse is intimate and secluded even with being in the heart of the city due to its alley location – both a blessing and a curse for getting punters through the door. Walking down the alleyway we already felt as if we had stepped onto the set of Oliver and excitement built as we entered through the front door.
Elegant yet mischievous, whimsical and honest, the theme of the bar becomes immediately apparent. A Victorian townhouse, somewhere between the old curiosity shop and a sumptuous Victorian gentleman’s club, full of eclectic curiosities salvaged from yards around London. Heavily patterned floral wallpaper bedeck the walls and rich jewel tones of red and ochre give a sense of warmth, combined with the obligatory Victorian candle light. We were led to the raised seating area, complete with a low ceiling, library wall, old leather wingback chairs, sumptuous velvet sofas and plenty of banquette seating. We were in awe at the modern interpretation of Victorian interior design but we eventually got down to the nitty gritty of the cocktail menu selection process. We say process but really it was more a case of wanting to try all of the enticing and unusual tipples and having to make a decision on what we fancied the most. The menu is comprised of expertly crafted drinks using homemade barrel-aged aromatic bitters, tinctures, curds, syrups, foams and cordials so you can understand our indecisiveness.
After much toing and froing we settled on a Tipperary, a blend of Jameson’s whiskey, sweet vermouth and Chartreuse green aromatic bitters and well as a Honeysuckle Daiquiri with sweet hints of orange and honey and a citrus kick with a lemon twist. Both of which went down a treat whilst we whiled away the time enjoying each other’s company. Way past our dinner time, we decided to sample one of their delicious grazing boards. We went for the cheese board, complete with a very generous selection of artisan cheeses, fig chutney, apple slices and delicious pickles. Who doesn’t love a cheese board with a cocktail?! The friendly bar manager informed us that during the day the bar offers a tasty selection of modern British artisan sandwiches as well as slightly more hearty mains which made us want to return another day to experience a secret Dickensian dining adventure.
A few more tantalising cocktails down and 75% of the cheese board devoured, we decided to bid farewell to the staff and make our way back onto the alley. Our experience of this enigmatic Victorian bar left us itching to return to try the venues weekly changing drinks menu with a ‘market-to-glass’ concept. Even though The Four Sisters Townhouse was fairly quiet for a Thursday evening it is still early days. We expect that this hidden haven has the potential to become a favourite local hangout, celebrating all that is great from the Dickensian era – if you can find it. But discovering the mysterious location is all part of the fun…
The Four Sisters Townhouse
5 Groveland Court
London, EC4M 9EH
For more information please visit www.thefoursistersbar.co.uk