So it’s interesting to look at how things have changed for Londoners looking for a drink, meal or fun after midnight. The bottom line is that it’s not making money for Transport for London despite passenger numbers having increased from 7.8m in 2016-17 to 8.7m in 2017-18. However, it’s what happens overground that was always the impetus for the initiative and the effect of the night tube is still on track to add £1.54bn to London's economy during the next 10 years.
However, if you wander around the central London after midnight there isn’t much evidence of a late night revolution. Exactly why operators have been relatively slow in exploring the potential of later trading is not immediately apparent – although the process of getting a late night licence is not easy. Certainly if you find yourself in jam-packed places like Bar Soho or Primo, it does seem that there’s money to be made trading into the early hours.
Maybe some of the reticence is because it seems that Londoners are beginning to drink in a different way. The search for an after-hours watering hole was invariably driven by the need for another – alcoholic – drink. However, Londoners are apparently less in love with the hard stuff while Government stats show that people under 25 are more likely to be tee-total than older generations.
A new pop-up bar called The Ministry of International Specialist Concoctions will open in Hackney at the beginning of October. It’s the brainchild of Shinyoung Lyu and a look at her drinks list shows how far ‘mocktails’ have come. The menu combines ingredients like wolfberry, beetroot, and coffee, or Kombucha with Shikhye — a sweet rice drink found in Lyu’s native Korea.
Even in more traditional bars, there’s more of a trend for long cocktails with a relatively small alcohol content instead of wine or shots.
It’s certainly a far cry from the ‘drinkers’ charter’ that some people feared that the night tube would become – and it also opens up a whole new range of possibilities about what you should be offering if you’re business is staying up late in London.
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