A bar that combines cocktail with cheese toasties? Welcome to Loves Company. Somewhat strangely placed (it's right on the edge of Old Street roundabout), stepping into this place for the first time is like stepping into somewhere familiar. A tiny wedge of a corridor funnels you towards the even tinier bar and a few always occupied stools where fellow customers spend hours chatting to the ridiculously friendly and Hawaiian shirt attired barmen.
We went on a Wednesday night and were welcomed in by a cardboard cut out of the absent manager Russell giving us a big thumbs up. Great start. Next, we were given menus with a short array of cocktails to choose from but Ella, Matt and Tim being old timers went off-piste with off-menu orders. Whilst I was deciding what to have, three Mezcal spiked drinks appeared: the guys had rustled up variations of a Negroni and a spritz. When it came to mine, I was asked what I liked (Old Fashioneds) and mezcal Old Fashioned with chocolate bitters materialised. A smoky take on a classic with a bit of bite and simultaneous sweetness, this was seriously impressive.
We didn't try the toasties this time but the smell of the melting cheese had us wistfully wishing we had enough room to fit them in. A relatively quiet but still raucous Wednesday evening, apparently this place is heaving upstairs and downstairs at weekends and yet the barmen still find the time to know your name. Loves Company indeed.
(Photo via Matt The List)