L’atelier Du Vin, 10 St George’s Pl, Brighton BN1 4GB.
L’atelier Du Vin. The “artist’s studio of wine”. The name comes with great promise, evoking visions of bottles upon bottles of delicious intoxicants and this venue does not fail to deliver. The first thing you will see upon entering this art-deco inspired “speak-easy” is exactly that. First impressions, they say, are the most important and the sheerly vast quantity of liquor combined with the 1920’s décor make an exceptionally bold statement.
The owners, proteges of the great Gerard Basset OBE, having worked together for many years have taken great liberties in creating what they consider to be the perfect “bar/studio”. Located just off of London Road, Brighton, this particular watering hole could be easily missed for lack of frontage, instead choosing to sport the namesake of a confectioner that previously graced the space. This really only adds to the mystique of the place, choosing to shroud itself within the building’s history instead of choosing the flagrant neons of some of its competitors and this works in its favour.
The atmosphere itself is muted, offering more of a “living room” feeling than that of a lively club and the patrons here seem to be of the same mind. Conversation is frequent and pleasant but there is thankfully no dancing upon the tables, the music that is played is generally something between Frank Sinatra and laid-back jazz overall leading to a welcoming and calm environment that is authentic to the “prohibition” style cocktails that they are producing.
Coincidentally, the cocktail menu here is extensive. So extensive, in fact, that there is a little leather booklet covering it. Somehow you do not fancy any of these? Ask for something off of the IBA list, it’ll not be a problem. The staff here are impossibly knowledgable, able to share their nigh-encyclopedic comprehension of beverages in ways that not only will leave your taste-buds delighted but also educate you in the history of such drinks and their progenitors. Understandably, a place with a name such as L’atelier Du Vin will also have an ample selection of wine and foreseeably there are in fact two leather-bound booklets for this, showcasing anything from world wines to the best of Sussex produce. If you are a spirit drinker do not feel left out. There is a huge range of anything from single-malts to absinthe (served by means of a fountain; the only place that I know of in Brighton to do so) and even an array of mocktails and soft drinks for anyone who wishes to abstain.
Food is simple. Cheeses and charcuterie. Well-sourced and delicious, it is what you would expect from an establishment such as this. No real surprises here, there are bread and crackers available for those that require them and deals for groups that assist those in groups but for those seeking more filling meals, there are more than enough restaurants in the locale that can provide a hot meal.
All things considered, this is not the cheapest bar in Brighton. This is evidently not the intention of the owners. As one of the more specialist establishments in the area it has been accredited as one of the top 50 cocktail bars within the UK. Ultimately, I believe L’Atelier Du Vin is an overachiever within the world of libation, an aspirational goal for any bar worth its salt-rimmed glass.