Bartenders challenge tradition with Festival of Love bar

department of good cheer

A bar that uses bespoke spirits and makes cocktails with mineral water instead of shaking with ice has been set up as part of London’s Southbank Centre’s Festival of Love.

The Department of Good Cheer, a London-based collective of bartenders, have created a bespoke drinks menu for a two-month residency that runs until August 31.

It is in the Southbank Centre’s Festival Village, under Queen Elizabeth Hall, which has been renamed Heartbreak Hotel for the duration of the festival and styled as a 1970s motel.

The space features a neon sign by artist Chris Bracey, an exhibition of responses from Jackie magazine agony aunts Cathy and Claire and the I Think I Love You Lounge – a dress-up karaoke lounge by Jessica Voorsanger with portraits in oil as inspiration.

The bar is described as spanning a pastiche of pop and culture from the 1950s to present day while adhering to their love and respect for boutique spirits and hand-crafted infusions.

Rather than shaking drinks with ice, they prefer to use precise measurements of mineral water to keep the drinks consistent and control the level of dilution.

They have also worked closely with a London-based distiller to create several infusions and blends to bring a unique and dynamic element to each cocktail.

Vangeli Moschopoulos from the Department of Good Cheer said: “We allow the delicate balance of spirits and liqueurs to lead the palette, rather than masking them with syrups, citrus or fruit juices.

“Although much of our initial inspiration comes from literature, music or film, refining a drink for the menu involves a process of flavour pairing, reductions and experimentation that draws equally from the arts of gastronomic cooking and the balance of distilling and crafting a new spirit.”

The bar’s opening times are Sunday to Wednesday 11am to 8pm and Thursday to Saturday 11am to 11pm.

From July 23, the Department of Good Cheer will be hosting a variety of weekly events including food pairings, whisky and gin tastings and cocktail master classes. Details at

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