An east London art gallery has been converted into 46 & Mercy, a cocktail bar with a creative edge
Head down a dimly lit staircase at American barbecue restaurant HotBox in Spitalfields, east London, and you discover a sleek bar serving up inventive cocktails. 46 & Mercy has been opened in a former gallery specialising in street art, but the creativity continues in the hands of a team led by award-winning bartender Terry Cashman.
Intriguing flavour combinations such as grapefruit and bergamot run through the bar’s 11-strong list of original cocktails. Signature drinks include the savoury and sweet Blessed Thistle, mixing vodka with an aromatic wine washed in pork fat and thyme, and Rye Me To The Moon which brings together rye whiskey with amontillado sherry, bay leaf syrup and Abbott’s Bitters.
For a refreshing burst of flavour, try the Stormy Monday (pictured above) which mixes Havana Club 3 Year Old rum with the bar’s own homemade ginger beer, fig liqueur and lime. Frankie Says Relax (pictured below) has a base of Aylesbury Duck Vodka, combined with grapefruit and bergamot sherbet, lime and British aperitif Kamm & Sons. The bar also offers wines from innovative and lesser-known producers in Australia, France, South Africa and the US.
The interior is by Shed Design which has worked on other striking bars and restaurants such as Meatliquor. They took inspiration from the space’s former use as a gallery as well as Andy Warhol’s legendary New York City studio The Factory where artists came together to experiment and innovate. The mismatched mid-century furniture, the bespoke ottomans in clashing psychedelic velvets and the layering of different materials and surfaces are boldly put together to create a free-spirited, relaxed and comfortable environment.
46 & Mercy was imagined as an antidote to HotBox upstairs – a white box to contrast with the black interiors of the restaurant. While each floor has its own personality, there are links between the two through elements such as the timber studwork frame, trestle tables and benches, bold red columns and Anglepoise lighting. Shiny surfaces such as the polished bar top and silver-foiled bathroom are a further nod to The Factory, contrasted against raw textured concrete blocks that add to the sense of a temporary, make-do set-up.
With a capacity of 85, 46 & Mercy is open Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 6pm to midnight and Thursdays to Saturdays from 5.30pm to 1am. The venue continues to be an exhibition space, displaying pieces collected by owners Basit and Preeya Nasim, with a regularly rotating collection of original works by rising east London artists. It is also hosting secret gigs and other live music, helping to position the venue as a new cultural hub for east London.
64 & Mercy, 46 Commercial Street, London E1 6LT
Tel: 020 7247 1817
Behind the scenes
Design: Shed Design
Breeze-block wall: Forticrete
High bar stools: Treeslounge
Ottomans: NC Contract Furniture
Low metal frame stools: Cream & Chrome
Basket chairs: Made In Design
Bar installation: Blue Lemon
WC sinks: Alape
Originally published in the May 2015 print edition of Bar magazine.