Menu: Brilliant cocktails, with a tequila bias
Vibe: Casual, friendly bar
Great for: When you want truly great cocktails without the pomp
Vegetarian/vegan friendly: The snacks are more vegetarian-friendly, but you should be able to find something for everyone
Signature dish: Aunt Zoë’s vintage English cheddar cheese spread and sourdough chips
Signature cocktail: FAM Margarita – a blend of highland and lowland tequilas, house citrus and Devon flower honey
Because It’s Cool:
Finally there’s a bar with soul in Oxford Circus.
Set on a side street behind Selfridges, FAM feels like it’s always been there, thanks to a vinyl playlist and dozens of photos of great bartenders – past and present – gracing the walls.
Run by Megs Miller, a kickass woman (bonus points) who is originally Canadian (can we give bonus points for this?), the vibe is chilled, but there’s buzzing energy pulsating below this.
The cocktail menu prioritises flavour over brand promotion, with drinks crafted from blends of gins, vodkas and agave. The non-alcoholic cocktails are brilliant, too – this is definitely a bar to come to if you don’t want to drink alcohol and don’t want everyone to know about it.
The snacks are the side show, but they’re no less carefully created and served with pride. Aunt Zoë’s vintage English cheddar cheese spread and sourdough chips is – and it’s a compliment when we say this – just like that cheap liquid-y-plastic-y gooey cheese dip and nachos you used to gorge on, but doesn’t leave you feeling dirty and regretful. In fact, I was satiated and glad I’d had it. And I’d have it again, damnit.
The ham in the comforting ham and cheese toastie comes from Dingley Dell and is served in homemade bread with tomato compote.
And this is exactly what you want when you’re in a bar to drink cocktails, right? Food you can eat with your hands gives you the fat content you need to absorb the alcohol (not a scientific fact) and continue to have a great night.
You might tell yourself you’re just popping in for one drink and a snack, and you might leave it at that. But don’t be surprised if you find yourself propping up your bar table, loudly singing along to Elton John several cocktails later. The underlying energy means it has the potential to be that kind of place.
Because It Matters:
Behind the scenes FAM’s focus is on community, culture and family.
Impressively, every member of staff has profit share. This means staff genuinely care about the day-to-day operation of the bar and the people that frequent it.
They choose ingredients by understanding where they have come from and the processes through which they are made. Plus, the team take it in turns to do a weekly Borough Market shop because they like to have personal relationships with suppliers. The Devon flower honey for their FAM Margarita comes from Field & Flower, the cheese for the cheesy cheesy queso dip is from Alsop & Walker or Sheringhams, foraged ingredients come from The Wild Rooms and their bread is made in-house.
When it comes to drinks, the focus is on seasonal and local ingredients with products made in the UK and/or coming from a place that is doing something good for the earth. “Not everything is perfect, but like a lot of our products we can all try to do a bit better,” says Miller.
Finally, all the furnishings were recused from Sunbury Antiques Market out In Kempton Park. Their sound system is between 40-50 years old from Audio International Studios. And I can tell you it still rocks those Motown hits.
Images: Paul Winch-Furness