New Cocktail Bar Opens in Kingsmead Square
A former brand ambassador for Hendrick’s Gin and Sailor Jerry rum is hoping to shake up Bath’s drinking scene with the launch of a new cocktail bar.
The Dark Horse on Kingsmead Square will serve beers and ciders from the south-west, cocktails created from locally foraged ingredients, and English wines and liqueurs.
Louis Lewis-Smith, who spent 17 years working in the drinks industry visiting bars all over the world, hopes his venue will offer something a little bit different.
“I’ve worked hard to create something that’s relevant here, that offers something unique and interesting.
“I hope it will be welcoming, comforting and, most importantly, unpretentious.”
Bar manager Sam Kershaw has worked in high profile bars in New York and Edinburgh, and, closer to home, at Babington House and Bristol’s Hyde & Co. Mr Lewis-Smith is also working with award-winning drinks historian and writer Anistatia Miller.
“We’re creating some bitters, liqueurs and hopefully a vermouth that will fit our house Manhattan style, so this may end up as one of our signature drinks. I love a well-made Manhattan and it suits the dark-old-basement-drinking-den style.”
The team has also put a great deal of time and effort into the quality of its ice.
“We’ll be using four different ice machines to create different kinds of ice for our drinks, including large blocks that we’ll be making on site. We’ll use local water but we’ll filter it as well as use a few science tricks to create crystal clear blocks that won’t flavour the drinks as they melt.
“It’s really geeky stuff, and could easily come across as pretentious nonsense, but as any great bartender will tell you, ice is the most important ingredient to get right.”
Mr Lewis-Smith, who grew up in Pembrokeshire, settled in Bath seven years ago and loves the city’s history and architecture.
“Whenever friends visit I love walking them around the city and showing it off. I truly believe Bath to be one of the most beautiful cities in the world - and I’ve seen a few of them so I feel I can back up that claim.
“It goes without saying that location is crucial. I spent days just walking around trying to find the right spot. I missed one site by a couple of days so I called Tim Brooksbank at Carter Jonas.
“He was incredibly helpful and got me the site on Kingsmead Square. It’s so perfect for what we’re trying to create and I couldn’t be happier here.
“I love the feel of the square and the atmosphere the lit tree gives in the evening. It’s a great spot.”
The Dark Horse has signed a 10-year deal with landlord HPH Ltd for the 1,000 sq ft unit in the heart of Kingsmead Square and will open for the first time on December 4.
Mr Lewis-Smith added: “Everyone I’ve dealt with at Carter Jonas and HPH has been incredibly helpful and friendly, which is how I always try to do business. They’ve been on-hand 24/7 and helped to make this happen with minimum fuss.”
Tim Brooksbank, of Carter Jonas, which acted for Bath-based commercial property firm HPH Ltd, said: “The Dark Horse is a welcome addition to the Bath bar scene.
“Finding the right property for our clients is key to what we do and we’re pleased to have been able to assist Louis and his team in finding the perfect premises.
“We wish him every success in his new venture.”