As hospitality comes to life once more after the Covid shit-demic, a bold new aesthetic is appearing in bars and restaurants around the world.
Variously known as Apocalypse Chic or Anti-Glam, it’s been described as ‘Bladerunner meets 28 Days Later… plus Mojitos’.
At the forefront of this trend is the new Barpocalypse, formerly a light and airy gin-specialist bar in East London that made a name for itself with elegant cocktails garnished with edible flowers.
‘Before we came out of lockdown, I was kept awake at night wondering how to get the musty aroma out of the place,’ says proprietor Jen Teale-Poverty. ‘Not to mention the 50 pizza boxes from staff pulling all-nighters to fulfil our hastily-created mail-order cocktail business.
‘But then it hit me. Customers are so desperate for a night out, they’re not going to care about little things like peperami slices on the floor or a minor vermin infestation.’
Lived in atmos
The Barpocalypse team are adding to the ambience by wearing the same drinks-branded t-shirts for days on end.
‘People love it,’ she told Fake Booze. ‘Most of our customers’ personal hygiene and fashion sense has totally gone to pot over the last 12 months as well, so they feel comfortable here.
‘Before we were A-list. Now we’re more Decay-List.’
Glasses are sustainably sourced from the local petrol station, and the team have worked to create a drinks list that ‘reflects the soul-crushing misery of the last 12 months.
‘So we’re working a lot with grappa and baiju.’
Another bar to embrace the new Apocalypse Chic is the Dead Duck, whose website says it ‘subtly blends the feel of a zombie horror film with contemporary design cues’.
‘We were flooded in February and just couldn’t be arsed cleaning up afterwards,’ said bar manager Dom Estos. The bar’s name, he said, was ‘part of their rich heritage’, stemming from an incident last year when a kitchen porter found a dead bird in their ventilation.
‘It was actually a pigeon but we thought Dead Duck had a better ring to it,’ said Estos.
‘Plus it also sums up the survival chances of your average hospitality business nowadays.’
Some critics have praised the new anti-glam approach, saying that the former era, with its emphasis on quality of experience, was ‘contrived and wasteful’.
Cocktail bar purists, however, are not so sure.
‘I don’t see Apocalypse Bars as being anything to get excited about,’ said bar consultant Brian Jetty of Metaphor Mixers.
‘Frankly, the whole concept of malodourous staff, gimmicky venue design and badly conceived cocktails is no different to what we had before.’