Evil Eye is pretty much the only independent cocktail bar in York that I know of, and it comes with the benefit of having a pretty good liqueur shop out at the front too. To get to the bar you have to pass through the shop, which stocks a great range of spirits and syrups for budding mixologists. Therefore, unsurprisingly, Evil Eye therefore has a huge range of spirits behind the bar, which stretches along one side of the back room. At the end of the bar the room opens up a little, and there’s some outside seating for summertime and smokers.
I hadn’t been to Evil Eye since I was a teenager it used to be a shop, but it’s definitely doing well in its most recent incarnation as a bar – we were greeted by a very busy crowd waiting to be served. It became evident pretty quickly that it was going to take a while get served, unfortunately I couldn’t find a cocktail menu anywhere, which was a shame as I would have ages to choose something! When I finally managed to ask the bartender, he informed me they didn’t have any menus left, but that he would make me whatever I wanted. Now, that takes a fair amount of confidence – a bartender who believes that they could make anything you could think of…I was therefore tempted to be a pain and ask for something really obscure, but it was far too busy, so in the end I went for a Bramble and a Dark and Stormy. As we had waited for so long to be served we decided to order two more rum cocktails of the bartender’s choice.
The Bramble and the Dark and Stormy were reasonably well made, however they both came in near pint sized glasses. A quick look around and all the drinks seemed to be the same, with the exception of the Martinis which arrived in 9oz cocktail glasses filled to the brim (a pet hate of mine as you always end up sloshing it all over your shoes!!). Unfortunately the bartenders’ rum cocktails were a fairly terrible grenadine/wray and nephews concoction which highlighted the lack of palette on the part of the bartender.
While there were a couple of stools at the bar, we would have quickly become crushed by the mob in search of refreshment, and the rest of the place was heaving. There were a few tables near the shop, but there was a pretty dodgy smell so we steered clear. Finally settling on standing in the thoroughfare of the corridor we huddled against the wall with our drinks in hand. Whilst we had avoided the problem of having to queue at the bar twice, we now realised that there was nowhere to put our spare drinks……we therefore so we polished off the rather nasty rum drinks very quickly (which did improve with time but were still pretty grim).
I can imagine that Evil Eye would be great when it’s a bit quieter, perhaps through the week sometime. The bartenders either really know their stuff, or have realised that most of the time they can get away pretending that they do…after the rum ‘cocktails’ I’m pretty sure it’s the latter. Whilst they were having some pretty funny banter behind the bar at first, they became pretty annoying after a while. Overall I’d sum it up as a quirky independent bar which is a bit shabby round the edges but that serves up some pretty good cocktails as long as you stick with simple, easy, classics.
** After checking out their website it looks like they’ve got a pretty extensive cocktail menu, hopefully they will have sorted themselves out and have printed some more by the time I return! **