Contrary to what you might expect, Boho is not a part of London just below Soho, but a small neighbourhood bar in East Dulwich. I ventured there last night on a quest – not the kind where brave deeds win fair lady, although a certain degree of bravery was in fact involved. No, after a few weeks of extravagance I was on a quest to see if I could get a decent drink during happy hour and I was going to do it locally.
As I resolutely placed foot after foot East Dulwich bound, all my senses were screaming for me to turn back. ‘Remember past experiences’ they cried. ‘You’re throwing away good money to drink ice water. You’ll be exposed to bad art and zebra skin. They’ll be playing Rihanna. It’s going to rain…’ But common sense and self-preservation could not prevail. The recession might technically be over but the world was still in need of a safe place to buy cheap drinks and it seemed it was my destiny to seek that place out…
I confess, it wasn’t as rash as it sounds. I’d had a fairly reliable tip there was a decent bar to retreat to if the happy hour adventure went sour but it wasn’t required. Boho turned out to be an earthy kind of den, with stone floors, untreated woods and aglow with amber lights. The overall effect was vaguely tropical without being the least bit Tiki. Apart from tables with inspirational messages on them (also featured on the website and a marketing mistake – the nausea they induce does not promote extended drinking) it was so far so good.
Classic cocktails were all at £3.50 and although the menu featuring gems such as Sex on the beach did not inspire confidence, we thought we could play it safe by ordering a Mai Tai (white rum, Curacao, orgeat, lime, gold rum float) and a Manhattan (whisky, vermouth, bitters). Our laid back bar tender waved us to a seat before bringing our drinks over.
The Mai Tai didn’t live up to the origins of its name – apparently when it was invented one of the tasters exclaimed, ‘”Maita’i roa ae!” which can be translated as “Out of this world!” – but in spite of omitting the dark rum, was quite nice. It was reasonably authentic too having also omitted the frequently and erroneously added pineapple juice.
The Manhattan was advertised as sweet but came on the dry side which pleased me as my preferred vermouth ratio for this drink is 3 dry: 1 sweet. It was somewhat inexpertly mixed and lacked smoothness but again was an enjoyable enough drink. At £3.50 a pop this represents pretty good value for money.
While I wouldn’t suggest Boho was worth trekking to East Dulwich for alone, if you are in the area and on a budget its happy hour is a decent option. So there you have it, world. Choose wisely as we did and you might find that poverty and cocktails can go hand in hand.