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Table talk: Pop into the no plastic cocktail bar

Eating & Drinking
Table talk

Georgina Wilson-Powell

15 August 2017

Neighbourhood bars can be a bit overlooked in London, where it’s all about the next big thing. Taking cocktails down a peg or two and adding a less wasteful approach is Nine Lives.

Nine Lives is all about salvation. Perhaps not salvation of your liver or your bank balance but the focus of the drinks and the decor is about using our resources more wisely. It’s a subtle approach that doesn’t smack of smug superiority the moment you walk in.

The drinks

Let’s face it, a bar’s only as good as its drinks. Nine Lives’ staff have decades of club and bar experience between them, so there’s no need for fancy bottle throwing or a cocktail menu you need a dictionary for, just a laid back list that’s confident enough to restrict the flavours to a few key ingredients.

Nine Lives Pebble Magazine3

Cocktails here cause less waste. It's time to ditch the disposables.

There’s three choices in each of the Long, Shorty, Tarted Up and Lowrider sections - our money's on the Omu Kooler (Campari, cucumber soda and watermelon) and an Alright Blossom (Rose, Raspberry, Prosecco and Hibiscus) for perfect summer sips. 

The cocktails are also how the bar showcases what it’s doing differently. There’s no plastic anywhere, bamboo straws are washed and reused. Garnishes come from the secret garden out the back, where the team have turned what was a dumping ground into a herb and veggie filled urban garden. While they're not as zero waste as Trash Tiki's concoctions they're thoughtfully put together with sustainability in mind.

The drinks make the most of seasonal and local ingredients or ingredients that the bar gets given - like leftover lime pith and shells from another company, with which they made limoncello. A new inhouse distilling machine is going in, one that uses a vacuum to break down the molecules, which will enable them to make their own tinctures and concoctions from their garden’s bounty.

Nine Lives Pebble Magazine1

Zero waste cocktails and dreams at this laidback neighbourhood bar

The vibe

The basement setting of Nine Lives suits it, it’s part Tiki bar (without the garish Tiki kitsch), part hideaway, part secret room of a club you only discover at 3am. The bamboo lounge furniture gives it an 80s soap set feel while there’s a DJ in the corner, bar games are an option and there’s enough private spots behind the bamboo poles to sink into for several cocktails. Almost everything in the bar has been salvaged from other bars or rescued from the many clubs that have died a death round London. The soundsystem is actually the remains of three club systems, wired together to make something new.

The bar describes its vibe as 'Tropicalifornication' - we reckon it’s easy on the eye, wallet and soul.

The sustainability bit

Let’s go back to the garden. The bar’s staff are learning about permaculture, there are tomatoes and herbs growing out of old speakers and monitor shells. The bar wants to learn to make soap from bar leftovers and they’re looking at every aspect of what they purchase to ensure it’s local and/or needed. The bar sticks to spirits brands that work harder for the environment and have even switched to plant based detergents.

When to visit

Nine Lives is open from Tuesday to Saturday, 5pm to midnight (or later).

Where is Nine Lives?

Find Nine Lives tucked down a back street behind London Bridge. 8 Holyrood Street, London, SE1 2EL to be exact.

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