One of the loveliest streets in St Albans, George Street has really come alive this year. The old, quirky buildings are home to a variety of independents, and it is fun to explore at day or night, especially with the new Christmas lights adding atmosphere. The newest addition to the street is Suckerpunch, which is just one month old, and has already attracted a lot of attention.
Described by owners Harley Foote and Joe Holdsworth as a steam-punk ‘London-style’ bar, Suckerpunch focuses on premium spirit cocktails. The menu is a careful edit of the classics, with many from the glamorous 30s. I chose a Bramble – a drink devised by Dick Bradsell whilst working in Fred’s bar in London in the 1980s. The menu explained that his idea was to create a ‘quintessentially’ English drink using English ingredients – London Dry Gin and blackberry liqueur. It was well-made, balanced and delicious, with a price comparable to other bars in the local area. You could also choose a negroni, Manhattan, martini or old-fashioned. Look out too, for the East 8 Hold-Up which is a classic from Milk and Honey in London.
The bestselling cocktail so far is the Skull Puncher, made with three types of rum. Originally made in the 1930s by Don Beach at Hollywood’s Don The Beachcomber restaurant, it comes with a warning to ‘please drink this strong concoction responsibly’. There is a short wine, fizz and beer selection too and a few nibbles on offer, olives and such like. Harley and Joe got their experience of running bars in Watford, and this is their first own-venture. The staff are cheerful and energised, coping well with the busy bar so far.
Suckerpunch is a long, narrow room, with the bar running along one side. Harley told me that he and Joe designed and built the bar with the help of family and friends including his Dad; the results are amazing. Look out for the copperwork and the airship hanging in the stairwell which were made by designer Norse Sky. The whole effect is very welcoming, with a couple of cosy booths, low lighting, vintage tables, sofas and a few bar stools. It isn’t very big, so plenty of people stay chatting at the bar. The music when I went in was swing, and as the evening went on and the drinks kicked in, there was dancing!
The bar has been so busy in its first month that a few people have been turned away at weekends when it meets capacity, but Harley explained that you can book a table a couple of weeks in advance for the weekend, and there is usually space at the bar. There is also a cool room upstairs with sofas, which will be fab for a private party. It shows how much people in St Albans were ready for somewhere new, and I loved it. If you prefer your bars quiet, go during the week, and you can relax and try a few of the cocktails. The weekends have a brilliant atmosphere and I am sure it will calm down in the coming months. In the meantime, there are a few places left for New Year’s Eve and you can book tickets for 20 pounds each (including a welcome glass of fizz). I like what this young duo have achieved already, and look forward to many more visits.
Suckerpunch, 26a George Street, St Albans AL3 4ES