Welcome to THE FUTURE, drinking fans – or a1930s version of it anyway. Vernon Chalker, quirky visionary behind Madame Brussels and Gin Palace, didn’t give himself an easy brief with Ampère: create a modern bar based on a past era that was obsessed with the future? Argh! But he’s pulled it off.
Aspects of Italian Futurist philosophy permeate the menu and dominate the décor. If you’re not au fait with socio-political movements circa 1930, all you need to know is that Futurists were a bunch of hipster revolutionaries who liked to enrage and engage the senses. While eating, they wore outfits made of sandpaper and had perfume sprayed in their faces mid-crunch to blow their enlightened minds. In short, they were nut-jobs – but great role models for a kooky bar.
Looks-wise, the space pays homage to a Futurist’s love of technology and industry, with austere concrete walls, multi-pronged light globe sculptures, metallic hands (glove moulds) reaching out of the walls and a central, chrome, art deco bar. It’s Doctor Who meets Boardwalk Empire, and it’s ace. Grab a pew at this space station or schlep out to the terrace and do some drinking to aid your thinking.
The menu has been designed to power your brain, starting with bitter tonics and aperitifs (pre-drinkin’ drinks) that kick-start your system, moving to wines which carry you through the debating hours, and ending with digestifs (herby liquors like Fernet Branca) to calm you back down, post-verbal fisticuffs.
If you want to play the game, try a bitter-as-all-get-out, quinine-based Dubonnet Rouge with soda, followed by some sensory smacking snacks like crumbling pastry cigars filled with eel (served with a vessel of smoke for inhalation), and chased by aniseed forward pastis. Then again, if you just want a post work beer or martini in a snazzy room with friendly staff, you won’t be alone, and you won’t be disappointed.