Public – a Sheffield Bar made out of old gents toilets!
Hearing through the grapevine that a new bar was on the way and going to be the old toilets under the Town Hall in Sheffield, I was intrigued to see how this was going to work. At first, I thought it was the old ladies toilets which I got wrong! I remember going in there in my early days when I used to traipse up to Sheffield on the bus and I always had to pay 20p to go in this public convenience. I know my son will laugh just like he did when I said as a youngster I could get on the bus for 2p, but these toilets will stay in many locals minds as somewhere they just had to drop in on their way to buy Ribena shoes and a Human League record.
So when Tracey from Naughty Forty Diaries knew I was going to be in Sheffield on the day this tiny bar was opening she asked me to come and have a cocktail or two and see what the atmosphere was like. While trying to find the entrance we went down some steps and had actually come in via the exit. Not to worry though because Jon the Assistant Manager was on hand to help us. There were only two seats left and we were put at the end of the bar that sits 4 people. Looking around I really loved this seating area as I imagine there always being a few regulars in this little spot close to the record player and chatting to the bar staff.
The first reaction was wow what an intimate atmosphere. You open the door and feel like you have discovered a secret hang out, a party that you’re not supposed to know about. It has a very old nostalgic feeling about the place. Kind of like an old world war 2 bunker. It’s the first time I have ever gone into a brand new bar and felt like it has been there for years. Whether that is the jazz playing and the look of the cocktails I don’t know. There is a feeling I need to go back and experience more. Only music on a record player is ever going to be played in here provided by Bear Tree Records and that gives a quality in itself.
Looking over the cocktail menu we were given a house cocktail which is on draught. When you get your head around that idea you might think it might taste more like a beer than a cocktail but no it tasted sweet and delicious. I could have sat drinking that all night but decided to order off the menu and ordered a Negroni which came with the biggest ice cube I have ever seen. Using Tanqueray 10 gin with Campari, and Cocchi di Torino vermouth.
There is something special about this place and I have a feeling that everyone will be talking about it for a long time. Crowds of people will want to visit for the novelty factor, I mean what a talking point ooh I am sitting in what used to be a urinal! Then the fact that it sits under 4 feet of concrete and you can get a cocktail on draught, the list of interest in this place is endless. The Interior design was done by one of the owners James O’Hara and the building work by Rocket Design a bespoke Interior company based in Sheffield. My one question for James was why did you do this project? His response was that him and his business partner James Hill have always tried to open bars that they would love to go to themselves rather than second-guessing what people want. James said that Public feels like the most personal project yet because it is really both partners dream bar. What with its tiny intimate space, great cocktails and vinyl records playing, it is exactly where they would want to spend their time. I genuinely capture that as it relaxes you from the word go unless you have a phobia of small tiny spaces that is.
Highlights for me are definitely the atmosphere, the cosiness and feeling that it is a hideaway bar which makes it stand out. Original features are still there like the metro tiles and they look very old but this has a very eclectic feel mixing old and modern together. Neon as a sign as you walk down the steps to the entrance is cool and the fact that the style of drinks made look like you could be in the best cocktail bar in New York. The colours being used are a wonderful Green on the walls and the seating is a luxurious velvet in Blue. The woodwork is a warm colour and the bar area has a soft Pink which gives a classy smooth touch to the interior.
You can only pay by cash as being so far underneath ground the card machines won’t work so make sure you have some cash ready to pay your bill. Drinks arrive on a waiter basis so your bill comes at the end which for me might be deadly as I think I would want a few cocktails eek! It has a very classy feel getting a nice bill and at least your not standing for a long time trying to order drinks.
I didn’t get the chance to order some food so I know I need to go back. Apertivo is the name on everyone’s lips not to get confused with happy hour but more a pre-dinner drink which starts from 4pm till 7pm on a Monday to Friday. Only costing £5.00 it’s a good way to start your evening. There being 5 drinks on the list to choose from as well as the draught cocktail means you have a good choice. I only stayed for 2 drinks as it was open night and there were 8 people waiting to get in I felt I wanted to come back and try a few more drinks another time. My plans were not to blog about this place but just relax and catch up with a friend but I have to say it pulled at the old heart strings and I wanted to tell everyone about it. As you know I talk a lot about Interiors of a place, but I was taking in the atmosphere so much that I didn’t find myself checking every detail and actually I quite like that because it means this bar has got all it’s priorities right straight away, great atmosphere and great cocktails. You have to go see for yourself!
We are getting more and more excited about quirky cocktail bars these days. Did you know there is a cocktail bar in New York called the PDT that sits behind a phone box? You have to use the telephone to call the waitress to come let you in. I wonder what will be next in the cocktail world?
Opening hours are Monday to Friday 4pm till 2am. Saturday is midday till 3am and Sunday midday until 2am.
Gallery Pictures – by India Hobson.
Featured Image – by India Hobson