Alcohol and the church often mix quite well.
Jesus’s first miracle was to do an instant booze-run at a party. He later started a winery in his own bloodstream.
But this place is taking that loose relationship to the next level – in what feels like a fairly transgressive move – by opening a cocktail bar with live music inside what used to be (and really, still is) a one thousand year old church.
It’s called Amazing Grace, and it’s housed in St Thomas’ Church opposite Borough Market, a building that was first erected in 1192. If you’re wondering how it’s still standing, that’ll be thanks to the periodic restorations that it gets given every few centuries, most recently being updated into its current English Baroque style, complete with soaring bell tower, back in 1703.
And last year, it got updated into a bar.
Inside, they’ve swept away the pews to create a dance floor, clamped banquettes to the walls, and thrown surreal, shimmering light displays on the walls. The altar has become the stage, flanked by the green-tile main bar, and the mezzanine level overlooking the cavernous space has been filled with chairs & tables for you to lounge on and do a little overlooking yourself. They even have an original Banksy (Christ With Shopping Bags) framed, and hung in pride of place above the mezzanine bar.
It’s all free to enter, even on Friday & Saturday nights, and the stage sees a wide range of up and coming live acts and DJs with no particular marriage to genre or culture – just whoever’s an emerging talent.
Given that it’s predominantly a bar for dancing, the drinks list skews towards beer and wine (which we know somebody will approve of). But there’s also a short and sweet list of classic cocktails, from negronis to Tommy’s margaritas.
Soaking all that up there’s nourishment from a rotating series of street food-style vendors, currently being represented by Da Ja. They’ll provide you with several different types of fried chicken or halloumi burgers (with Korean or Japanese twists), as well as crispy pork & prawn wontons, corn ribs with togarashi seasoning, smacked cucumbers, curry salted fries, and more.
It beats a communion wafer, let’s put it that way.
NOTE: Amazing Grace is open now, with live music every Friday night and for weekend brunch. You can find out more, and make a booking at the website right HERE.
Amazing Grace | 9a St Thomas St, SE1 9RY
Like drinking in churches? Mercato Mayfair would like your attention…