Dirty Blonde: cocktails and New York style in Brighton

drity blonde bar

Eclectic Bar Group has unveiled a New York-inspired bar and restaurant concept in Brighton

Tucked away behind a pawnbrokers shop in Brighton is the latest bar and restaurant concept from Eclectic Bar Group. Browse through the guitars, brooches, toys, stuffed owls, cigar cases and perfume bottles or head on through to the new venue, Dirty Blonde, which aims to bring “an injection of vintage styling and 1920s decadence” inspired by New York City.

Covering two floors with a capacity of 320, it has been created within the former Madame Geisha bar in East Street. It was named after a cocktail found in New York by Eclectic’s chief executive Reuben Harley, who started to develop the concept with operations director Lee Nicolson 18 months ago after they and head of development Alex D’Aguiar visited New York.

The bar has an extensive cocktail menu with up to 30 speciality drinks, including recipes from around the time of Prohibition, aged cocktails, Martinis and signature blends. The Dirty Blonde itself, pictured on Bar’s front cover with some of the pawn-shop pieces, is a combination of vodka, sweet vermouth, banana liqueur and pineapple juice.

The bar food offering includes the Dirty Brunch served from midday to 3pm, with dishes such as pancakes, waffles, muffins, truffle-and-chive scrambled egg on a toasted bagel and the Yanki Mini Dog with mustard, smoked ketchup and crispy onions. There are also small plates, burgers, dogs, sandwiches and salads. From 3pm to 6pm, Dirty Blonde hosts the Boston Tea Party, an afternoon tea featuring Moët & Chandon Rosé champagne, chocolate strawberries, spiced lobster blinis and a selection of pastries and cakes.

Dirty Blonde cocktail bar

For a more formal dining experience, the restaurant menu is classic New York fusion, drawing inspiration from the immigrant cuisines of NYC’s five boroughs. Dishes include General Tso’s Sweet and Sour Salmon with Furi Kaki Rice, grilled chicken breast with New York bacon waffles and pan-fried Maryland sea bass. The dessert line-up features baked chocolate fondant Big Chocolate and The Little Apple to Morningside Strawberry Shortcake, with quirky presentation such as vanity cases.

The venue has been designed to transform from a daytime location for eating, drinking and relaxing into a place for dining and cocktails in the evening through to a late-night venue with entertainment, live music and DJs. It opens Mondays to Saturdays from midday until 3am and on Sundays from midday until 11pm.

The “pawn shop” (pictured below) actually sells and trades vintage ephemera, operated as a separate business in the care of specialist vintage buyers. However, after 9pm, it becomes a meet-and-greet area for a late-night experience until 3am, with VIP booths available. The shop leads through to the bar, with steps up to another bar area where the DJ booth has a prime position overlooking the whole space. At the back is the restaurant that doubles up for drinking. On the top floor are a small terrace and the toilets, where the ladies has its own champagne bar. The interiors were developed with leading hospitality design practice Julian Taylor Design Associates, which also worked on Eclectic’s Japanese-inspired Sakura bar concept.

Dirty Blonde is set to be rolled out as a new brand by Eclectic which operates 21 venues including the tiki-themed Lola Lo, Po Na Na clubs and Sakura. Lee says that Eclectic is already looking at several potential sites for the concept across the UK. “Dirty Blonde clearly illustrates Eclectic’s plans to continually enhance and evolve its portfolio.”

Dirty Blonde, 75-79 East Street, Brighton BN1 1NF Tel: 01273 727494 www.dirtyblondebrighton.com

Dirty Blonde pawn shop interior 7872

Behind the scenes
Design: Julian Taylor Design Associates
Main contractor: Sanderson
Sound install: SSE Audio Group
Electrical contractor: TEI Electrical
Kitchen design and install: Safeguard
Signage: Hartbrights

Originally published in the May 2014 issue of Bar magazine.

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