Cuisine: Cocktail bar
Address: 46 Deptford Broadway, SE8 4PH
Nearest Station: Deptford Bridge / Deptford
Tel.: 07792 205 375
Good For: Good cocktails, Friendly conversation, Chilled evening, Eccentric night, Nostalgia, Party times
If you were planning a birthday party, what would you do? Bear in mind that the previous year, you’d thrown a pretty banging house party with a whole roast lechon as its centrepiece (naturally, that part was amazing; I’ll just give myself a pat on the back), and you were thinking that you wanted something a little bit different.
If you live in Southeast London, more specifically the golden, er, diamond that is New Cross–Brockley-Lewisham-Greenwich–Deptford (okay it may not be a diamond), you should check out Little Nan’s Bar on Deptford Broadway.
Many are the times I’ve walked past a non-descript door with an old balloon-bedecked chair standing watch outside, wandering what pleasures/terrors lurked down that dark corridor to Little Nan’s Bar. It was just begging me to find out.
And so I did.
The concept, from what I saw, experienced, and gleaned (and liberally interpreted) from top grandson Tristan, is that Little Nan’s Bar can sort of be summarised as the result of an alcoholic grandmother deciding that she wanted to open up a speakeasy in her twee living room. Really.
You have rickety coffee tables covered in porcelain tat and old magazines, battered arm chairs and musty sofas, vintage pieces and art hanging from the walls, and giant teddy bears propped up and looking for some hugs; cover up the exposed brickwork with some heavily-patterned wallpaper and maybe freshen the air and smell a bit, and you could be back in my gran’s front room in Cowes on the Isle of Wight. I wouldn’t be surprised if Tristan had a good rustle through Abstracticus next door, in the Deptford flea market or in Aladdin’s Cave on Lewisham Way (big up Southeast London yo) to get all these items – they all add up to make quite the atmosphere.
To top it all off, cocktails are served in mugs, porcelain cups and even teapots – yes, teapots. And with names like Queen Victoria, The Queen Mum and even Princess Eugenie of York (“I’ll have a little bit of Princess Eugenie, ooh err”), Little Nan’s Bar has one foot firmly planted in old-fashioned monarchist granny territory.
That’s not to say that Little Nan is not open to new things and experimentation (oooh errr): as I made a booking for my birthday, I was offered to have a cocktail made in my honour. My exact instructions were, “I’m a fan of gin-based or rum-based cocktails – something a bit zingy and fresh and crisp but not overly-sweet (think Tom Collins or Dark and Stormy)”, and the resulting concoction was the Lord Mark. Dark rum laced with ginger beer, and topped off with fresh lime wedges, fresh mints and a hefty handful of blueberries; that sounds pretty spot-on, no? Chilled with ice and served in a teapot, it made for a very welcome birthday drink.
Indeed, all of the cocktails I was able to sample were lovely – though as I was exercising my birthday rights by stealing/accepting offers of drinks from different, unlabelled (as far as I could see… perhaps some tags would be a good thing to use in future?) teapots, I am unable to offer any good opinion on specific Little Nan creations. I do wish I was able to try the signature cocktail of the bar, the appropriately-named Little Nan Loves You, but alas it was not available that night.
It was a very fun evening overall, with me and my friends making a raucous racket of ourselves (we were not the ones who knocked over the cabinet, I hasten to add!) as we soaked up the eccentric atmosphere. They’ve done a thorough job in creating a unique and fun space and in coming up with a drink offering that is both cheap and cheerful and good quality too – and as Little’s Nan grandchildren are on hand all the time, it’s very easy to build those relationships and connections that make you feel a part of something special that you won’t find elsewhere.
Places like Little Nan’s Bar are why I’ve come to quite like living in New Cross and Southeast London in general – we’ve got cafés with well-made food, pubs with character and good taste in beer, cheap and cheerful Vietnamese without the crush, apparently one of the best Turkish restaurants in London (and other really decent offerings too), food and produce markets that still feel like your local neighbourhood affair, Filipino supper clubs offering something tastily different (did I just big up mine and my brother’s venture? I think I just did!) and now bars that offer up something fun in an eccentrically inventive manner. AND there’s enough exposed brickwork for all who want it.
Who needs East London, eh? It’s all about SE postcodes, babeh!
VERDICT – Highly recommended. I had a spiffing good time for my birthday, and I’m sure others would too. It would certainly add a touch of something unique and different to any proceedings taking place there. With a creative mix of cocktails and a rather fun vibe to it, all packed into a very ‘cosy’ environment, it’s definitely a place to party on with friends. Stay a while for the drinks and the atmosphere, and then come back again because, quite simply, it was fun.
Currently listening to: Open Hand – Tough Girl