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Bar Crawler

Wednesday March 11, 2015

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Hosting a ridiculously fun speed dating event last night means that today I have a slight hangover today. This hangover has forced me to re-evaluate my life…

Evaluation complete. I love it.

I’m a writer and comedian by trade. The term ‘by trade’ doesn’t mean I’m any good at these things. It just means I’ve been doing them for a while.

The reason I particularly love my life today is that I now have another string to add to my bow. Last week, the – possibly naïve – folk at Original Dating handed me the mantle of ‘Events Manager’. And yup, it’s exactly what you imagine it to be if you imagine managing events means plenty of exploring London’s best bars, clubs and venues.

It’s my job. I love it.

So let me share some of that love with you and fill you in on some of the places I’ve had the pleasure of undertaking a prolonged course in hangover development of late.

The Dolls House – Islington

Okay. I wasn’t technically supposed to be here. It’s officially a kind of members club – although all that’s required is a gift of their favourite tipple – but I managed to slip in.

And what a glorious slip in it was. A hand drawn (yup) 3 story town house in Upper Street with a pared back style, monochrome décor offset by flickering candlelight and an underlying sense of cheeky debauchery make this a new favourite of mine.

A ground floor parlour, second floor library and dining room and third floor member's bar/ballroom reflect its previous Hoxton pop-up incarnation with a dash more whimsy and a feeling of permanence ideal for the more discerning fellow traveller.
Prepare yourself for decadence.
Cahoots – Soho

I’m always slightly nervous about themed bars. I know they’ve become trendy of late but ever since a terrible – and once only – visit to Mahiki a few moons ago where I was accosted by Mr Pirate Greeter who refused to drop out of character no matter what I asked him, I try to avoid such kitsch wallet burning.

So it was with surprise that I stumbled out of the recently opened Cahoots with a voice in my head whispering ‘do it again!’

It’s a fake post-war tube station. Sort of. Just off Kingly Street a wooden escalator descends into an underground (well duh!) bar replete with retro tube seats, tea chest tables and a rather splendid bar.

The kitsch volume is turned up a little with the inclusion of sandbags and bunting but rather than feel crass, it feels kind of cute. In a good way. In keeping with the theme cocktails are served in (very) hip flasks, old milk bottle and tins.

It ain’t cheap and it feels a little West End posh kid but the staff are great and it’s sure to settle soon.

How long the novelty will last I’m not entirely sure but I’m more than happy to return to find out.

The Imperial Durbar – Tooting

South of the river for this one.

Brothers Alistair and Nick grew up in India and, after returning from a later six year trip they came up with this absolute gem of a bar themed around the Raj era circa 1890.

18 types of gin complemented by a whole raft of tonics combine with a beautifully designed darkly airy bar that just sings lazy Indian summer.

Out back sees a plush Raj era ‘office’, a cushion clad snug and traditional Indian canteen replete with hessian bench covers.

Add to this a vintage telephone with a direct line to the awesome Cardamom club a few doors down –  watch the hurricane lamps for when your food is ready - and you’ve got the complete evening set.

Oh and they’re open from 6:30am for coffee, chai and yoga!




The beauty of Speed Dating London lies in its no-nonsense approach. You take an equal number of single girls and guys, put them in a room and give them a few minutes to chat with every other member of the opposite sex.

When you get there

Original speed dating events in London normally begin at 7.30pm. You will need to register with our hosts and to begin with they will issue you with a score sheet. This will help you to keep track of the singles that you would like to meet again and perhaps go on a date with. After a short period of mingling, your host for the evening who will run through detailed instructions and give you your starting position if you are a guy or table for the event if you are a girl.

Meet & Mingle

A London speed dating event is split into two halves, each lasting around an hour, there will be an interval at half time of about 15 minutes for speed dating London. You will have between 4 and 5 minutes with each person, after which you need to tick a box on your score sheet - "yes, I would like to meet this person again" or "no. Thanks but no thanks". Or "friend" if you'd like to get to know them platonically. Make sure that you do this after each date to keep track. Afterwards there is an opportunity for everyone to meet and mingle informally - this is often where the real action begins, so make sure you don't disappear too quickly!

Complete your score sheet

After the event you simply tick who you liked on the Original Dating website and the site works about your matches automatically. If the dates you have ticked as a "yes" have reciprocated you have a match. You will be able to view the first names and message them via our site online without revealing your email address until you are ready to. You'll be having proper first dates in no time.