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 now it’s been 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 acts with no particular marriage to genre or culture – just whoever’s an emerging talent. Every now and then, they’ll have DJ nights, but when they don’t it’ll “just” be a bar.
The cocktail menu features seven drinks, each named for a deadly sin – the ‘Prideful’ Mai Tai comes with two types of rum, the ‘Gluttonous’ Sidecar is made with Cognac, etc. But if you’re not into immoral imbibing, then there’s an in-house lager or some wine (which we know someone will approve of).
Soaking all that up, there’s food from Peckham’s Mr Bao, whose Taiwanese street eats stretch from charred flat iron steaks and dandan noodles, all the way to fluffy steamed buns filled with beer-marinated ‘Drunken Prawns’, teriyaki-blanketed shiitake mushrooms, and classic slow-braised pork belly with peanut & coriander.
Bao down and worship.
NOTE: Amazing Grace is open now, with live music every Thurs-Sat. 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…