They’re not difficult instructions to follow here.
Especially if you draw back the heavy red velvet curtain next to them to find Freddles, an inventive and upbeat new dive bar that – for all its casual trappings – serves some outstanding cocktails.
The space has been newly carved out as a standalone bar, separate from the restaurant, and there’s now a new figurehead at the helm: spirits whisperer Thomas Auger. His bartending journey started at Bethnal Green’s sorely missed NOLA, and continued to make strides at Discount Suit Company and Genuine Liquorette. Now, he’s finally getting the run of his own place with Freddles, and it feels definitively his – chatting away to everyone at the counter as he shakes up the drinks, it feels like the kind of bar where everyone genuinely would know your name.
His signature cocktails are the perfect partner to the Papi ethos: inventive, frequently weird, and consistently fantastic. And aside from sharing a philosophy, they share ingredients, too. Auger’s inventions include the Mont Blanc, riffing on the dessert with cognac, chestnut and Swedish punsch; the Slaw Down, a bracing combination of aquavit, gin and red cabbage; and the Starch Trek, which should be tasted to be believed, with its strangely bewitching marriage of brown butter bourbon, peanut stout, and mashed potato.
Then there are the weekly specials, which edge onto the more traditional side (read: involve less food). They’re twists taken from the lexicon of cocktail classics, albeit less familiar ones like the Panamerican Clipper (calvados, berry, citrus & absinthe) and the Royal Charlie Chaplin (with gin, sloe gin, citrus and fizz). You could ask him to make a mojito – and he’d obviously nail it – but honestly, it would feel like a wasted opportunity.
Oh, and the name, if you’re wondering, was picked by one of Papi’s most generous crowdfunders – one of the highest honours available, after naming the restaurant’s red loo (which, as far as we know, remains unclaimed).
Clearly, no one was feeling flush enough.
NOTE: Freddles is open Wednesdays & Thursdays (6-10.30pm) and Fridays & Saturdays (6-11pm). They don’t take reservations, so just rock up. You can find out more HERE.
Freddles | Below Papi, 1F Mentmore Terrace, London E8 3PN
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