After Hours: Oxygen
Stars and Stripes May 14, 2008
LONDON — An unusual bar in Leicester Square, one of London’s nightlife spots, serves up something to its clientele that’s quite different from food and drinks. It has no substance, no odor, no taste and no color. Customers can’t even see it, let alone feel it.
It’s oxygen, of course, and if enough is inhaled, the invisible necessity can give you a natural high.
That’s the premise behind Oxygen, a three-floor bar and dance club that tickles the nostrils with fresh oxygen and soothes the throat with alcoholic drinks.
A 6-liter bottle of compressed oxygen is 12 pounds while a 6.9-liter bottle costs 14 pounds. All containers are handheld and come in flavors, such as peppermint, lemon and lime.
"It gives you a little natural boost," said Marc Julius, the bar’s marketing guy.
Those who would rather not pay for something they can breathe for free can head to the venue’s bars to swig down drinks.
There’s a list of cocktail fusions to order, such as a cosmopolitan, Long Island iced tea, mojito and mai tai — all about 6 pounds each. Patrons in a party mood can get cocktail jugs for 14.45 pounds, and during happy hour (between noon and 8 p.m. every day) the price drops to 8.50 pounds.
In addition, the bar has a few selections of martinis (7 or 7.50 pounds) for the more sophisticated types out there.
To overcome the munchies, the bar also dishes out snack platters — calamari, chicken nuggets, chips and vegetable spring rolls — for about 5 pounds.
Once patrons get that drink in hand, they can park it in the cocktail bar, which is the first area seen when walking into the bar. Multi-colored lights cascade from the ceiling and a disc jockey booth sits above a seating area and bar. Live DJs are showcased every night, Julius said.
Upstairs is the bar’s lounge, a more relaxed atmosphere complete with a fireplace. From here, smokers can head outside to breathe in toxic air on an open terrace overlooking the square.
And finally, all the way down in the basement is the bar’s dance club.
Although the bar has multiple floors and rooms, the narrow venue holds about 300 people, Julius said.
"It’s quite the boutique here," he said of the place. "We have a feel of intimacy here."
People who tend to flock to the bar are not the loud, annoying types of partygoers. Customers are typically 25 years and older, many of them women, Julius said.
"We get lots of chicks here," he added jokingly.
Location: 17-18 Irving St., Leicester Square, London WC2H 7AZ.Drinks: Cocktails, martinis and the usual suspects. The place also serves up pure oxygen to stimulate the nostrils.Food: Snack platters to overcome the munchies.Dress code: Dress to impress. No hats, hoodies, sportswear, white tennis shoes or ripped jeans.Music: Hip-hop, rhythm and blues, and funky house and electro dance music.Hours: Monday to Saturday, noon to 3 a.m.; Sundays, noon to 12:30 a.m.Cover: 10 pounds starting at 10 every night.Web site:www.oxygenbar.co.uk