|Turn the lights down low - on a Friday & Saturday the bar is quite atmospheric|
So, on with the show.
At 2 am on a Friday or Saturday night (it’s open till 3 am) you’d be hard pressed to find anyone who cares much about the quality of the drinks at the Maze Inn; only that it’s still serving them long after everywhere else nearby has called last orders (and yes both I and Bailey have been guilty of this a few times).
The fact that Southgate, located just a few stops from the end of the Piccadilly Line probably isn’t many people’s idea of a top quality cocktail destination is a problem for the venue. In an area lacking places with a touch of class (glass in the door windows) to drink in, Maze Inn stands out.
|I'm not really this pale, the flash on the camera was set to 'burn retinas'|
It has a relatively nice heated outdoor seating area to the front and while I (Stephen) think the interior is quirky and slightly moody with the absence of bright light, Bailey thinks different. As I may be slightly bias knowing what used to be there before Maze Inn opened I have left the descriptions of the interior design to her.
Anyway, without wandering off topic too much, we’ll continue! On our specially timed early evening visit to sample the cocktails a couple of weeks ago we sauntered in, searching and needing a stiff drink.
Maze Inn is a bar that turns into a nightclub on a Friday and Saturday night. It doesn’t particularly get busy and it’s the kind of place you can do and have a nice drink if you don’t want to be hassled, jostled or bumped around a city centre bar or local boozer.
Every bar or restaurant needs a concept these days – whether it’s playing poker to set the price of your dinner, playing with cats with your cup of coffee or serving nothing but bowls of cereal. And Maze Inn used to have a concept. Sort of (about five years ago). But sadly there is now no sign of the legendary Happy Hour machine where a press of a giant button on the bar brought the random chance of a buy one, get one free or some other money-saving deal on the price of drinks. If the owners are reading this – we want it back and we want it back now.
Now for Bailey’s description of the interior (as there are photos I’m not sure why she insisted on this section). The décor won’t win any prizes for originality. The throne style chairs that David and Victoria Beckham got married in seem to have been the inspiration, along with plenty of red pleather and chandeliers bought in bulk from Homebase. But if you want a fashionable place then go hang out in Shoreditch or Deptford or wherever the cool kids go.
The cocktail menu isn’t massive but size isn’t everything and it does have some interesting options. At £7.50 each they are pretty good value and would certainly be double that if served in central rather than on the edge of London.
I unimaginatively chose a Long Island Iced Tea (vodka, gin, rum, tequila, triple sec and coke). I have these every time I go to Maze Inn as they are the best I have ever tasted. Not just the best in London, the best in the world - they even beat the ones from Las Vegas where a bartender tried to kill my liver with one drink.
Bailey always goes for a vodka martini because they use her favourite Grey Goose vodka and take the time to chill the glass first by filling it with ice. Because there are no mixers in a vodka martini it has to be good vodka or you just don’t get a smooth enough drink. Being pure spirits (just vodka and vermouth) it’s a drink for sipping slowly whilst enjoying pleasant surroundings and good conversation. And at the Maze Inn at least you get the pleasant surroundings…..(that is Bailey’s attempt at humour).
On the advice of the friendly barman Darnell, Bailey chose a Hurricane (a blend of rums, orange, pineapple and over-proof rum) and it was strong. Any drink made with Wray and Nephew Overproof rum (ABV 63%) is going to pack a punch; apparently it accounts for more than 90% of all rum sold in Jamaica!
|Darnell mixing our drinks - he knows his stuff|
The problem was that the fruity taste masked the potency and it wasn’t long before Bailey was grateful that the seats at the bar were the chair types with backs on them.
Our next drink was ordered ‘off-menu’ (if it’s good enough for celebrities it’s good enough for us). Darnell concocted something that he likes to drink himself – from memory (hazy memory) I think it was rum-based with blackberry juice, nutmeg and cane sugar. I liked it a lot – I just wished that I was drinking it on a Caribbean beach rather than sub-zero Southgate in January.
Deciding that we weren’t sober enough to appreciate any more cocktails we called it a night until our next visit: maybe there won’t even be a Long Island Iced Tea ordered too. Now that really would be a Maze-inn (groan).
The Maze Inn
7 Chase Side, Southgate N14 5BP