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Baroque Bar (Northampton)

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Address: 31 St. Giles Street, Northampton NN1 1JF / Tel: 01604 627 217

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      04.02.2011 10:55
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      A place to be seen

      Britain shifts £37 billion pounds of booze a year, a healthy chunk going to the exchequer. Apparently a typical young bloke drinks nine pints a week on average (according to Which Magazine) and the likewise female can get through around five glasses a week down the pub. If you live up north you can probably double that number. But the pub trade is in a double recession right now, that of the one we are all in and that of the smoking ban one, the collapse of day trade seeing one-in-five pubs close down because of it. Its chick town centre bars like the Baroque in Northampton that have the biggest worries, high rents and no beer garden for the smokers costing the now vital weekend trade, and so have to adapt very quickly to this non smoking world, this particular bar literally having to convert the fire escape and rubbish area into a smoking zone or go bust, which, rather ironically, turned out to be a very cosy and snug little place to hang out, even in January. Most thin pretty girls with great legs stay sexy because they smoke and so all the totty tends to slip outside for a quickie, so the best pace to meet girls. Maybe its time to start smoking chaps! Smokers and non smokers at work and play are definitely forming alliances on those doorsteps and in the smoke free canteens. Like most trendy young peoples bars the Baroque policy is to pack em, assault their ear drums with cheesy chart music and get them up to the bar as quick as possible and buying booze, the high turnover concept, the concept being shut up and drink. You wont find Jenga and Buckaroo on the tables here guys! We are all drawn to these bars as they tend to be full of attractive vibrant people as that thumping music suggests an in-place to go, the heating also cranked up with the 'urban tunes' to keep you thirsty, again more tactics to keep you drinking and not talking, lots of vacant stares and fingering of beer bottle labels and mobile phones as we wait for the last one of the group to drink up. It's the same deal in nightclubs as DJs are often told to drop in dodgy tunes to clear the dance floor just to get people back to the bar. If smokers are not allowed to smoke in bars then, inevitably, they will drink instead, the combination with the 24 hour drinking law seeing hospital casualty rates explode due to excessive boozing at the weekends. It's cynical but the treasury want that lost tobacco revenue from increased alcohol sales. The Baroque is a small intimate bar where you go to be seen but not heard above the booty shaking Beyonce and Rhiana. A small and cramped bar like the Baroque operates the 'three second rule', one all bartenders know about. Punters tend to make up their mind on what they want before they get to the bar but if the beer or alcopop isn't there then they will take - on average - three seconds to choose a substitute, major brands willing to pay pub chains for big bucks for strategic positioning in the customer eye line. In the Baroque, like many other bars in Northampton, bottled beers like Beck's and Budweiser that used to get those spots have somehow lost their status and news boys like Peroni and Magniers sparkle in their spaces, proving it works. I had never heard of Pironi this time last year, the power of subliminal advertiser. Queuing is common here on Friday and Saturday nights, as it will be in pretty much all popular bars, intimidating to some and irritating to all, and so why we want to have a quick decision ready before the bar person makes eye contact. And, as expected, young peoples bars that have attractive bar staff , as the Baroque indeed does, apparently sell 20% more booze than ones that don't have bar 'totty' according to that Which Magazine survey. The Baroque is a noisy and busy bar at weekends, awkwardly placed tables and pillars as sharp as the customer's elbows and the stilettos precariously holding up those tipsy pretty girls. If you nudge a geezer with a pint prepared to be nudged back. Cocktails are popular here, a bit of sophistication on offer for the girls after a hard week's tertiary work, but at seven or eight quid a pop you will need a bloke to buy them. Its believed cocktails are making a big return because kids can buy cheap alcopops from the offy now and so the old fancy drinks are no longer fancy, the Cuba Libre's and Sex on the Beach, alongside the extortionate ripp offs known as 'shooters', big earners for the trendy pubs. For some reason drinking has always been an exercise in showing off in Britain, somehow a machismo right of passage for the boys and so an abject surrender by girls to those drunken boys, the lads willing to shell out to impress. The Baroque do expensive wines and champagnes to compliment the sparkler in the blue liquid, one brand of Champers nudging £100 a bottle on the menu. Try and be impatient as it takes about 5-10 minutes to be served as the bar is cramped. Seating stays for the night trade and so space to be had to consume your chosen tipple, some groovy leather sofa chill out areas squeezed into the corners for only the coolest of cats. In the day time the Baroque is a far different beast, modelling itself as a mid-market coffee bar, relaxed and cosy, the 'clink' of porcelain cups on saucers reassuring. But that coffee doesn't come cheap, nudging three pounds a cup for some of the more upmarket froths. It does do a rather pretentious list of teas if you're not into cappuccino, ranging from Pure Assam to Organic Chamomile, all for £1.55 a cup, so grannies and granddads few and far between. It's a stylish and relaxed atmosphere in the day with brisk knowledgably service. The menu is mostly nibbles and salads (three different options) alongside the standard main course pub grub like Rump Steak and peppercorn sauce, a sprig of red cabbage on the side-salad (£1.50) to make it look fancier than it is here. It's not the sort of place you would eat at night though. It opens at 11am so they do a breakfast, but a £8 a pop. Someone will have to enlighten me why exactly the breakfast in pubs tends to be so expensive compared to the rest of the grub in pubs. Across the road on Fish Street the local Weatherspoons does a brekkie for just three quid, and with mushrooms. I would recommend this bar to young people between the ages of 21-40 at night and ideal for a classy quick half or coffee in your lunch break or after a hard days shopping in Northampton. It is an in and out bar for a quick drink at night and a round of three drinks will set you back a tenner. Its smack bang in the middle of the town centre so not hard to find. But I will never pay three pound for a coffee unless a beautiful woman is attached t it. http://www.baroquebar.co.uk/ - Opening Hours - Monday to Thursday 11.00 - 23.00 Friday & Saturday 11.00 - 24.00 31 St. Giles Street, Northampton NN1 1JF Our Telephone 01604 627 217

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