There's a spirit 'Happening' happening right now on Tower
Bridge. An underground party, an assault on the senses, a bar
that's part distillery, part pharmacy, part lab. So step in, if you
dare, to the Bump Caves.
The ringmaster is Max Chater, a heavily bearded drinks wizard,
who while working at Charlotte Street pub, honed the 'Beer and a
Bump' concept - the pairing of craft beer with unusual
spirits (think pork scratching and blue cheese gin). Next he
had an idea for a bar dedicated to creating unusual spirits on site
using a rotary evaporator, a sous-vide and other bits of
pharmaceutical gear. "I wanted to elevate drinks, and create
a higher experience," says passionate Chater. With gentle-ish
persuasion he got the backing of craft beer guru and founder/owner
of The Draught House and Café Anglais, Charlie McVeigh. And last
week saw the opening of Chater's dream bar.
The dive bar entrance is swiftly followed with psychedelic
wallpapered stairs and into a slick, dark basement with colourfully
lit caves. Behind a cage in the corner is the factory - where
all the mechanics and lab equipment sit - ready to make the
grog. Choose your own tinctures and with the help of Max and
his adept knob twiddling - just 45 minutes later, your very own
bottle of gin is ready and waiting for sampling. (Mine's
delicious, with a strong gentian, peppercorn and lemon
Alongside the beer and bump pairings, (try Pilsner, with a shot
of South London-freshly-mown-grass-infused gin), there are also
wild and fantastic mixed drinks. Go for a Schiz-a-Colada -
made with crème anglaise, distilled fresh pineapple, a mix of two
different rums and on the side… a coconut flavour vapour
cigarette. And not a pink umbrella in sight.
If you're looking to knock back a few, Bump Caves is not for
you. This is a curious, clever, Heston-ish place for those
interested in a full sensory, considered experience. Though
after all that intriguing sensory assault, you may want to retreat
to your own cave the next day.
Bump Caves, 208 Tower Bridge Road, London SE1 2UP
Bump Caves offered all Vanity Fair A-List subscribers
the chance to win a 'Spirit making master class experience' for 6
people, including an assortment of drinks and food on the night and
a bottle of own-creation gin per person (total worth £594).
Don't miss out on future offers, sign up to the A-List.