The Handbook
The Handbook

It may have been over 40 years since TV show Abigail’s Party charmed the nation, but it still has the power to captivate audiences and inspire everything from fashion to tongue in cheek dinner parties and comedy shows.

If you’ve no idea what we’re on about, Abigail’s Party was a Mike Lee devised and directed televised play, which managed to capture the zeitgeist of the time, creating a satire of the aspirations and tastes of the new middle class that were emerging in Britain in the 1970s.

The quintessentially British cult hit has inspired a bar in London Bridge’s Vinegar Yard, aptly named Abigail’s Bar, and since its opening late last year, the 70’s-inspired interiors have become a go-to Instagram hit, nailing character Beverly Moss’s style perfectly – dodgy sofas, spider plants, lava lamps and retro records. While it might sound like a bit like a low rent version of Annabel’s – “just off to Abigail’s!” – we love it for the sheer fact that it doesn’t take itself too seriously.

It’s also set to a suitably 1970’s soundtrack and serves up classic cocktails like their signature Negroni and now-famous Espresso Martinis. You can also expect a lot of spritzers and vermouth-based tipples in keeping with the ’70s theme.

But that’s all about to change, for a weekend anyway, as fellow London Bridge bar Nine Lives, is about to pop up inside Abigail’s. Now, we know London has little shortage of pop-ups but this one is really rather good.

The décor may say “1970” but the message of the pop-up could not be more 2020, as Nine Lives founders, Allan Gage, Emma Hutchison and Tom Soden, who are dedicated to sustainability, have created a clever cocktail menu for the Abigail’s residency using some of the surplus ingredients from Vinegar Yard’s food traders – think discarded pomegranate husks, lemon rinds and leftover mint stalks.

Three cocktails will be on offer, each inspired by and intended to be paired with three of the bestselling dishes from Vinegar Yard’s neighbouring street food vendors. First up, The Beverly Moss (suitably named after the main character in the show, played by Alison Steadman) is based on the popular ​Aubergine Kofta & Rice ​dish at ​Nik’s Kitchen and uses Ketel One vodka –  infused with discarded pomegranate husks – soda and a sherbet cordial, made using Nik’s spent lemons and sumac.

Then there’s The Susan Lawson – a twist on the classic Bloody Mary and inspired by ​Nanny Bill’s signature burger, The Jam – a double beef patty with smoked bacon, cheese, lettuce, pink onions, hot sauce, bacon jam and burger sauce. The cocktail is made using kale-infused Ketel One vodka, a tomato and kimchi juice, a chimichurri and tomato sauce, and smoked bacon jam that’s also featured in the burger.

Finally, The Angela Cooper, inspired by the signature poppadom nacho dish at ​Baba G’s​, ​Pachos​, which is topped with tomato coriander salsa, mango pulp, mint raita and chilli pickles. The cocktail combines Ketel One vodka with tamarind, turmeric, Baba G’s mango pulp and a Fino sherry that has been infused with leftover mint stalks from the raita.

Sustainably wasn’t really a thing in the 1970s – if it really were Beverly serving up the drinks, they’d be topped with those little paper umbrellas and a heap of maraschino cherries plucked fresh from the jar – but Abigail’s and Nine Lives have found a way of doing their bit on sustainability at what isn’t just another London pop-up.

ABIGAIL’S BAR X NINE LIVES WILL BE OPEN FROM THURSDAY 12TH – SUNDAY 15TH MARCH 2020

Visit www.ninelivesbar.com or www.vinegaryard.london for more information

The Handbook has teamed up with The Grill at The Dorchester for an exclusive competition. Entrants will have the chance to win a dinner for two at The Grill at The Dorchester when it re-opens! www.dorchestercollection.com