Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Cardiff Crawl 1 - Mocka Lounge, BunkHouse and Cafe Jazz

While I'm still a massive clubbing enthusiast at heart, I respect that sometimes everyone wants to tone things down a bit, heading out on the town for beverages crafted with care, drinkable while sprawled in a cosy chair! As such, I've come up with a new concept which will hopefully latch on, that I've decided to call the Cardiff Crawl. Informed by my own knowledge and recommendations from the capital's beverage enthusiasts, I'll be heading out on various nights of the week to different parts of town in order to sample the various delights of Cardiff's many watering holes.

The first crawl took place last night, seeing us taking a trip from Mill Street up St. Mary's to some of it's quirkier locales. Read on for our thoughts on what's on offer for your alternative Tuesday nights!

Mocka Lounge
We started just off St. Mary's at Mocka Lounge, a bar with a reputation for fine quality cocktails and an almost balaeric atmosphere. We sat outside bathed in a soft neon glow, candle flickering in front of us on huge sofas and after asking for reccomendations, ordered a couple of their signature drinks, the Berry Mocka and Cherry Mocka. Nothing to do with the chocolate coffee mixup, these two drinks were a wonderful pair of creations, melding fresh fruit juice with raspberry vodka, amaretto and cherry brandy in the case of the Cherry Mocka.

The Berry Mocka was based around gin, apple schnapps and lemon juice to give it a slightly sharper, refreshing tang that I preferred, however both were delicious and as the Cardiff night closed in a little we headed inside. The interior decor was fabulous, a blend of futuristic surfaces, gentle illumination and bizarre fishtanks all marked out by their refinement. We got a couple of free and very tasty Brownies brought over (a huge plus) and finished off before calling it a night there. Mocka holds up as one of my favourite places in Cardiff, it's an independent in a street of great bars and thus has to fight it's corner against more established brands and thus it's the fantastic quality that keeps it going so well.

While Lewis Carroll's Alice In Wonderland is sadly a work of fiction, BunkHouse is as close will you come to experiencing something similar. The ceiling was strung with 1000 fairy lights while customers reclined on beds, drank amongst indoor umbrellas and perched on quasi-doll house decorated furniture. The bar was long and dark, with a huge range of whiskies adorning the shelves and a great range of beer on tap, of which we selected my nostalgic favourite, Singaporean Tiger Beer that arrived in glass tankards.

It's almost as if Cath Kiddson had a fair ground, the lockable trunks, model railways in the roof and a blend of european swing and piano lounge tunes piped in through hidden speakers. While it has an early closing time (the one bar woman informed that she wanted to go home), it adds to the unusual charm of the place. A crowd in patterened shirts and shampooed beards slowly finished their various drinks and we reflected that while this place does cater to a certain hipster vibe, it's appeal runs far deeper than that. By Cardiff standards, it's definitely a unique experience.

Cafe Jazz
Where BunkHouse may have been for aspiring hipsters, Cafe Jazz is a place for those who are really in the know. The place was unassuming, despite retro decor plucked straight from the hedonistic days of Weimar Germany, but where it thrived was a deep love of the music that was being performed live and of jazz culture in general. We sat down with pints of Sharps DoomBar Ale, which came in at a great price and enjoyed the closing pieces of live music.

The jazz band 4 piece were very proficient in their own brand of catchy pub jazz and while their may not have been a huge crowd, they were very entertaining nonetheless and despite the cliche, you really couldn't help but tap your feet along. As they finished up, we sat back and drank slowly through the crisp pints and made our plans to leave.

While the hardcore club fanatics may swear by Revs Tuesday and it's still my favourite party tunes of the week, it was refreshing to take a step back and try something a little different.

Check out BunkHouse, Cafe Jazz and Mocka Lounge on facebook and head on down there sometime for a quality evening's entertainment.

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