We found Brighton’s new hidden cocktail bar
The exclusive bar is hidden behind a secret bookcase
From neon lights to indoor plants, The Set Restaurant in Regency Square has a little secret behind its decor. Their bookcase is not quite as sturdy as it looks. Lean against it, and you'll fall into a hidden cocktail bar, but we certainly weren't complaining.
Trashed Panda is Brighton's latest hidden cocktail bar, so we set ourselves the challenge of finding it.
After booking our place at the bar, we were told to "ask around to find us", setting us the challenge to sniff out their bookcase. Having been given a tip off that the secret bookcase was located in The Set restaurant in Regency Square, we put on our detective gear and headed on down.
Making our way through the bar we finally stumbled across a beautiful bookcase, with a strong push, we had finally found the little cocktail bar.
Jake, the owner of Trashed Panda, greeted us as we arrived, sitting us down with a welcome drink to prepare us for our cocktails. We sit right at the front of the bar, surrounded by jars of ingredients, including fresh beetroot and rhubarb.
Trashed Panda's menu changes every week, and even sometimes more often, "I change it whenever I fancy it", says Jake as he prepares our cocktails, aptly named: 'Rhubarb and Custard' and 'That Shit is Fire'.
As we get chatting to Jake he tells us about his menu of original cocktails. "Bar tenders are egotistical people, but no customer wants to watch me throwing and shaking stuff about, I don't give a shit what that guy is doing with a cocktail shaker if it tastes like shit", says Jake.
Trashed Panda's cocktails are all about flavour, fresh local ingredients and a cool friendly vibe.
"I want it to be as friendly as possible", says Jake. "I don't want it to be a place where people think it is too posh, I just want it to be a cool, relaxed place." His menu also changes with whatever local ingredients are in season, "the rhubarb and custard will be on the menu again next week, but it will be a completely different cocktail", he explains.
That vibe definitely comes across in Jake's bar, with him talking us through all the ingredients and prep that goes into our cocktails whilst we sip away.
As always, one always leads to another. Tempted by the 'Marmalade on toast' and 'Appletiser' cocktails, we go for round two. Made from burnt toast gin and Seville Orange the cocktail literally tastes like marmalade on burnt toast, or as Jake describes it "short and sour, just like your mum."
Intrigued by Trashed Panda's name and the fact we become 'sneaky pandas' for sniffing the place out, we asked Jake where the whole panda thing came from. "It's based on something that shows quality but is also silly at the same time, and I think pandas are about that, they're always falling about", he says.
After a few cocktails and some banging conversation, it was time to stumble our way out of the secret door. It was fair to say we got some odd looks as we stumbled out of a bookcase, little do they know of the gem that lies behind.