Zahra Bar: a Middle Eastern hideaway

Over the past nine years, Shahrokh and Zehra Parvin have been developing their successful eastern Mediterranean concept Del’Aziz to six locations across London. More than just a restaurant, the sites feature delicatessen-cafés and lounge bar areas, but at their sixth Del’Aziz in Clapham, south London, they have gone one step further and opened a separate bar with its own identity.

Tucked away in the basement, Zahra Bar is a cool Middle Eastern hideaway with luxurious furnishings and a good line-up of original cocktails. It has been designed by Shaun Clarkson ID which has worked on nearly all the Del’Aziz sites over the past seven years and is known for creating stunning hospitality interiors, most recently the Oxo Tower bar and the Perrier-Jouët bar at Dukes Hotel in London.

The Middle East and eastern Mediterranean have influenced the décor, including brightly coloured wallpaper that covers both the walls and the ceiling. The luxurious feel is enhanced by silk fabrics on the walls and sofas decorated with silk cushions in bright shades of pink, blue and green. As well as the low copper tray tables, there is a long high wooden table suitable for groups. At one end is a private seating area for up to 18 people, separated by a curtain of chain link.

“The challenge for Zahra Bar was to create a brand within a brand, that stood proudly next to Del’Aziz but could be a ‘stand alone’ bar concept,” designer Shaun Clarkson explains. “We wanted to create the feeling of infinity, with intimate spaces, daring pattern, rich translucent colour, drapes and chain link curtains with clever lighting, and I think I have achieved this. This is contrasted with the chunky monolithic timber bar and chunky furniture and the use of copper and brass tones that reflect the light. It’s a sexy experience!”

The cocktail list is just as sexy, created by consultant mixologists Jussi Kalmi and Lee Read, both from Milk & Honey. They also trained the bar team, which is headed by Sylwia Wysocka and includes Nelson Pedretti Junior. With cocktails priced around £7.50 to £8, the menu features twists on the classics such as an El Draque Mojito made with Germana cachaça, Pampero rum and white sugar. There are also plenty of original cocktails including the long drink Abbie’s Heartbeat, made with Absolut Citron, Midori, raspberry puree and passion fruit puree. Other interesting cocktails are the Del’ight, combining Hennessy cognac with cigar syrup and Chartreuse, and the Zahra, made with Pampero rum, pineapple, spices, lime and absinthe.

Del’Aziz ground floor bar
Wines from Lebanon and Turkey sit alongside those from the New and Old World, while the fridges stock some interesting products such as Anchor Liberty Ale, Brooklyn Ale, Kirin Ichiban beer and Wyld Wood Cider. Soft drinks include Fentimans, Chegworth Valley and Playboy Energy Drink. Open from 5pm seven days a week, the 100-capacity bar also offers mezze sharing dishes while, through the week, there is a programme of live jazz, DJs and even belly dancers, staying open till 1am Thursday to Saturday.

To reach Zahra Bar, you enter through the main restaurant or deli on the ground floor, where there is also an intimate lounge bar for diners – again all designed by Shaun Clarkson ID. While it is tucked away in the basement, the drinks and the décor combine to create an atmospheric hangout that is worth the effort to seek out.

Zahra Bar, Del’Aziz, 55-57 The Pavement, Clapham Old Town, London SW4 0JQ

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