Hidden down a side street off busy Old Street in east London is a luxurious new lounge bar, Golden Bee. Pass through a single door, with a brass bee on the front, and you climb a staircase dominated by a large gold-chain chandelier. It prepares you for the décor of the main bar which its designer Darren Grapes of Grapes Design aptly describes as “theatrical”. It is altar-like in appearance, decorated with shocking pinks, crushed velvet drapes and neon.
With references to the golden bee’s hive, the interior has champagne gold accents and displays finished with hexagonal mirrors. Behind the bar, tiered bottle trees from floor to ceiling allow each individual bottle to be lit through LED, flanked by electric blue drapes and copper chain mail. There is more gold in the screens that separate the main bar from the “club lounge”, which features decorative black acrylic CNC panels on the walls and suede furniture with gold stitching.
A major selling point for the venue is a rooftop bar offering views over London – a new competitor to Shoreditch’s popular rooftop bars such as Skylounge. Seating up to 100 people, it has an open-air bar, sofas and outdoor screens for showing sport. “The terrace will rival any rooftop bar such as The Boundary or Shoreditch House but without pretention or membership restrictions,” says Billie Chandler, who owns the bar and is the “B” that inspires the name. “The bar’s sheer presence has already boasted many private-hire events and been used as a top location for film and music videos, a testament to Darren Grapes’ design.”
Grapes Design has also created the bar’s lighting system made of shot glasses, in collaboration with Universal Fibre Optics. “I’ve always wanted to pursue the idea of utilising glassware,” Darren explains. “Glasses lend themselves as a decorative shade. Facets on the glass reflect and refract the light in a seductive manner when lit, perfect for a bar environment.”
Alongside a select wine and champagne list is a broad range of spirits, especially vodkas and whiskies, plus a cocktail list created by bar manager Julian Bolenz, formerly at Kings Club and McQueen. Martini-style drinks match the luxurious setting such as the Golden Bee Martini made with vodka and gin shaken up with white wine, honey, cardamom syrup and orange bitters.
Twists on the classics include a Re-Fashioned: biscuit-infused Woodford Reserve bourbon stirred with apricot- and plum-infused Jameson whiskey, Angostura Bitters and brown sugar. For the sweet-toothed, there is a Nutella Martini, a Strawberry Cheesecake Martini or Made in Old Street – a cocktail made with Haribo-infused vodka shaken with mango juice, apple juice and blue curaçao, garnished with Haribo sweets.
On the site of former bar Aquarium, Golden Bee is open Tuesdays to Saturdays from 4pm until midnight during the week and 3am on Fridays and Saturdays. Michael Jones adds: “Golden Bee cocktail bar is fun, fresh and stylish, offering people the chance to escape the hustle and bustle of London life, either inside away from the rain or on the rooftop where they can enjoy the panoramic views of Shoreditch.”
Singer Street, London EC1V 9DD
Tel: 020 7253 1110 www.goldenbee.co.uk
Who did it
Design, project management: Grapes Design
Banquette seating: Fitz Impressions
Main contractor: Malcolm Charles Contracts
Bespoke tables: Sam Ogilvie Design
Loose furniture: Republic of Living
Main chandelier: Grapes Design
Shot-glass chandelier: Universal Fibre Optics, Grapes Design
Ceramic wall tiles: Solus Ceramics
Artwork: Dylan Lisle
Glasswork: Osborn Glass
AV consultants: Middlesex Sound & Lighting