The Old Ropery
Fenwick Street, Liverpool, L2 7NT
Jenny’s Bar in Liverpool isn’t the kind of place you just stumble upon – this place takes seeking out.
Like so many good discoveries in life, the existence of Jenny’s Bar was revealed to us by word of mouth. “Have you been there yet?” A friend asked, in an undertone. “It’s amazing. Best of all, not many people know about it – it’s hidden in plain sight.” So, armed with our old friend Google Maps and a thirst for elaborate liquor, we ventured to Liverpool’s Fenwick Street. There we spied the suspiciously incongruous Jenny’s fish restaurant (also the home of Whisky Business) and descended a staircase into one of the most exceptional bars in Liverpool.
Owned by the people behind the brilliant Berry & Rye, Jenny’s Bar is a boozery of two halves. Walk in and you’ll find something akin to a prohibition-era speakeasy – all stained glass, elegant tiles and eccentrically attired barmen (handlebar moustaches and leather aprons, like BDSM butchers). It’s all a bit odd, and not a little hipsterish. However, step beyond the velvet curtain that divides the venue in two and you find yourself entering a den of iniquity – something like The Great Gatsby meets Studio 54 in New York.
One of those places that you’ll love for its inventiveness or loathe for its pretentiousness
The walls are patterned with intricate loops of green and gold, cosy booths are lined with crushed velvet and, if you look up, you’ll find your reflection staring back at you from the mirrored ceiling. While we were there, one couple necked furiously in a corner all evening, as if in thrall to the atmosphere of unbridled disco hedonism. Our leopard print coat now seemed like a strong choice.
The booze is as stylish as the decor. Our barman didn’t even flinch when we tested his skills, asking for a Boulevardier – the bourbon equivalent of a Negroni. He aced it, mixing with a real flourish and delivering a cocktail as dry as a Stewart Lee joke. A “Blood and Sand” was so delicious that it could only have been improved by Rudolph Valentino himself rising from the grave to make it. According to our waitress, the cocktail menu changes every month, as their mixologists think up more wild and wonderful combinations. Regretfully, we didn’t try a concoction recommended to us involving vodka, coconut milk, plum juice and hoi sin bitters, which came served with a fortune cookie, but it’s definitely on our “must-try” list for next time.
There’s only one thing letting Jenny’s Bar down – we’re not the first reviewers to note it, but it does bear repeating. Double toilets in the ladies. Why people, why? We’ve never really seen the appeal of weeing in tandem and it poses a bit of a conundrum for the solo toileter. Do you valiantly stride in on your own and put your feet up on the other cistern, or do the sisterly thing and ask the others fidgeting in the queue if they’d like to join you? We’re fairly sure this isn’t covered in Debrett’s guide to etiquette.
Jenny’s Bar is one of those places that you’ll love for its inventiveness or loathe for its pretentiousness. Personally, I love it, and foresee many more visits to sample its charms. And I’m still up for that fortune cookie cocktail.