uston’s the only area I’ve worked in London where the people
do not fit the horrible city stereotype,” says Simon Deeprose, the charismatic bloke running Shaker & Co, Euston’s longstanding cocktail bar.
“Everyone’s high-fiving down the street; and our neighbour Mestizo has come to me for limes, and I’ve been to them for a box of Coronas.”
Simon held the role of general manager from 2013-2015 here, before moving to Australia for twelve months. When he returned to the UK a stint at Aviary in Finsbury Square followed.
“That was by far the toughest job I’ve ever done,” he says. “After that, I took a year out. Then beautifully, Adam Freeth – Shaker’s owner – posted about a position, and I said, ‘Sign me up.’”
Indeed, the placard in the window states ‘Under New Management’. “In a weird way, it’s essentially telling everyone that I’m back,” says Simon. “It’s a great venue – it’s home.”
The space may be sizeable, yet it feels cosy. A lengthy bar takes centre stage, framed records and music posters adorn the walls, rustic wood lines the floors, and there’s an 1980s themed room in the basement.
“The only way this place is successful is if people feel like it’s theirs,” says Simon. “It’s generally all about regulars. Our retention of business is phenomenal, we get very few walk-ins.”
Simon hasn’t always been in this line of work. “I was a personal trainer for about eight years,” he says. “I focused on diabetics, pregnant women and cerebral palsy – they were my three specialist
From 18-24 I watched all of my friends have the time of their lives at university. The younger brother of one of my closest friends was in New Zealand and suggested I join him.”
Uncharacteristically, Simon handed in his notice and jetted off. “The gym I was working at over there bought a nightclub,” he says. “Of all the things – it was completely bizarre. They sponsored me for my second year and asked me to run it.I’d never shaken a cocktail in my life – this was 2011. When I came home I learnt everything I possibly could – the International Bartenders and the Advanced courses.” And so a new path was forged.
Fast forward to 2019 and what’s Simon’s favourite tipple? “The Aviation,” he says. “Martini-style, served up – which means not on ice – with gin, maraschino liqueur, parma violets and lemon juice. It’s not as famous as a daiquiri or a mojito, but it tastes awesome.”
Simon’s skilled at creating bespoke concoctions. “It’s so much fun,” he says. Tall and refreshing, short and strong, sugary or dry – all of these things come into play.
I ask what he would mix up if I requested punchy and fruity, but not too sweet. “Something with rum – it’s such a big hitter – and mango, with a bit of fresh of lime juice to balance.”
He doesn’t take himself or the venue too seriously, either. “Strangely enough, someone recently asked if I could make them a tequila Lilt drink,” he says.
And when the venue hosted a leaving do for an NHS nurse who turned up an hour early for her own party, “she jumped behind the bar and I taught her how to make a few things,” he says. “People don’t leave until they know my name and want to come back. I love it, it’s almost like a stage.”
Now he’s back at the helm, what are Simon’s plans? “Getting the kitchen back up and running,” he says. “I’ve had so many knocks at the door from chefs asking to have a go for a couple of months. At the moment we offer BYO food, but generally, people go away for dinner and then come back – which means we’re losing out.”
Working six days a week is tiring, but Simon is happy to be back. “There’s such warmth and camaraderie in the area,” he says. “Everyone’s out to help each other: it’s fantastic.”