Trouble in Dreams
Chad Parkhill, who co-owns the 25-seat Trouble in Dreams with Aaron Donato (Bar Josephine and Pie Thief , located either side), previously worked behind the bars at Eydie’s and Heartattack & Vine. In 2017 he also published a book, Around the World in 80 Cocktails.
This much is evident on Parkhill’s cocktail list, which complements his own creations with cover versions of influential and interesting drinks from bars worldwide, with each cocktail’s creator getting a menu credit. The fresh, spritz-y and slightly astringent Champagne Cocktail, for example, was invented at New York’s defunct Nitecap and blends the bitter French aperitif Suze with passionfruit liqueur, topped up with cava, a Spanish sparkling wine.
Parkhill’s own creations rotate regularly. The Dream Lover is a riff on a sloe gin fizz, subbing out the typical ingredients to create something more adventurous and unusual. It uses grenadine, caraway-infused aquavit spirit, patxaran (a Basque anise and sloe berry liqueur) and a misting of rosewater.
The wine list is natural without being obnoxiously so, listing mostly minimal intervention styles, but with varied flavours and origins. Distinct identity is the brief here, and everything is available by the glass. The bar even has a vacuum-sealed Coravin machine to keep higher-end pours at their best. There are also a handful of nibbles including cheese, charcuterie and Cantabrian anchovies with sourdough.
The space is tiny and rough-hewn (“sprezzatura – a sort of studied carelessness” is how Parkhill describes it), dark enough to hide some sins, and decorated by the original art of local Jess Wilson. Parkhill’s brief for the artworks was “boozy tarot surrealist”, and Wilson’s imagery evokes the tarot cards of the Ace of Cups, the High Priestess, and the Wheel of Fortune. The latter depicts a woman riding a giant slice of citrus like a unicycle, crushing another woman beneath her. A smashed phone, blister pack of paracetamol and slice of pizza also decorate the ground, portending hangovers for those who gaze upon the scene.