What? American-style saloon bar called Aces & Eights
Where? Tufnell Park, literally right opposite TP tube station
What’s good about it? The ‘vibe’. The place has easily hit the rock bar style, with dimly lit booths and album artwork covering the walls. The owners also boast Slim Jim’s in Islington among their portfolio, and are opening a new bar with Rolling Stone magazine in LA; yeah, big time. We stationed ourselves in a booth next to a Jefferson Airplane poster and opened up with a few cold ones and some impressive pizzas (also available to take away from the in-house pizzeria). Then FHM did the hard work for you and sampled the hoppier ‘Brooklyn’ lager, much lighter ‘Blue Moon’ beer with a slice of orange and an ‘Old Fashioned’ whiskey cocktail, each of which increased our foot tapping to the classic tracks. Be warned, this isn’t primarily the sort of place you nip in for a flying drink, with our £8 cocktail taking eight minutes to make, but that gives you time to sift through the Lynyrd Skynyrd on the jukebox. There are some good deals during the 4-8pm happy hour too, such as a bucket of four Sol for a tenner.
We found out about a few past nights of live music - including a Blues guitarist by the name of ‘Dollar Bill’ - and discovered not just anyone can play, this is a saloon bar in the very sense: a guy named Joe was kicked out after two songs for playing Bill Withers. The manager likes to keep the mood of a night flowing (he’ll skip tracks on the jukebox if it’s a killer) and FHM tested their patience by following Baba O’Riley with Jungleland, but somehow got away with it. More live music is next on the agenda, with a downstairs room currently being converted to include a small bar and performance area – it will make an intimate live music venue, but it’ll be Christmas before it’s functioning.
What’s bad about it? It’s not the cheap dive bar you might expect, with beers on tap typically at around £3.60-£4.00 a pint (although happy hour sees them around the £3.00 mark). It’s not overly expensive, just might make you hesitate before dropping another nugget in to the jukebox. And it’s in zone 2, so not quite within easy reach for a post-work drink if your route home doesn’t take you through Tufnell Park. It’s only been open four months, which might not seem like an issue – but plenty of good ideas and plans are ‘in the pipeline’ so the bar is still building its image. They’re careful not to compromise the style, so nothing’s being rushed. A projector means sports coverage is about to be installed, and a movie night in the week is planned, but neither are available just yet.
Verdict: Definitely a bar to start the night with some good music and atmosphere during the week before heading on to Camden, and a good watering hole for those looking to enjoy some different beers or whiskey’s with a classic soundtrack. It was a bit quiet for our liking (even for a Thursday) but the 10-15 customer’s bras hanging above the bar pointed to lively DJ’d weekends – though we were disappointed the manager’s hope of a fresh bra donation while we were there didn’t materialise.
Visit the Aces & Eights website