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Friday, 22 January 2016

Caipirinha Bar at Cabana, Brixton

(one familiar face looks happy- Sandra from Gogglebox )

No sooner had the Champagne corks popped at midnight; 2016 began to shape up as an annus horribilis. "Serves you right for buying your Hogmanay fizz from The Co-Op, you cheapskate!" you snark. But at £16.99, or whatever its current offer price, Les Pionniers beats many a bigger Brut, I'll have you know. First upset: Michel Delpech, the French pop star that soundtracked my Blé En Herbe years, croaked his last. Next, the markets went into mega-meltdown mode; 'informed insider' punt on China as shonky as most everything those Asian a'holes mass produce; and then ..the unthinkable: BOWIE! Cue an emotional tsunami on a "Princess Di just died" scale; the slight difference being that Bowie's talent went far beyond rocking a frock and cleverly manipulating the media. Drawn or by coincidence; ostensibly to check out a new bar; I'm in Bowie's native Brixton, at the shrine to Ziggy (who'd surely scoff at such sentimentality) where a generation grieves the glue that held it together - the Thin White One's (truly) unique Sound and Vision. Can forty years really have passed - "sordid details following" - since this precocious show-off was excluded from prep school for showing up with a rainbow-died feather cut and a streaked face? My bronze shimmer, kingfisher blue and 'Flaming Flamingo" flash (courtesy of Miners and Rimmel from my sister's make-up bag) less The Prettiest Star, more a lad insane. The Golden Years - when I span the man at Boys Keep Swinging, a post-punk disco night I hosted at The Fridge, just yards from his makeshift memorial - dead and buried...or cremated, in his final brilliantly orchestrated act to prevent the mawkish media circus his funeral would have surely otherwise been. Tonight, I'll drown my Sorrow (his cover of The Merseys' hit, a personal favourite) and toast the Starman in caipirinhas in the Victorian bowels of Britain’s first purpose-built department store; the now-defunct  Bon Marché, the unlikely setting for a much needed blast of Brazilian sunshine in  sad SW9. At Cabana, surf boards as tables and Castrol oil drum as tub chairs - among the recycled furniture that benefits the poor of Brazil’s favelas - set the tropi-kitsch, beach bum scene for this mid-market chain’s standalone cocktail lounge. Here, the classic Rio cachaça cocktail comes in various fruity flavours along with Ipanema Iced Tea, boozy batidas, coladas and hurricanes such as Carmen Miranda and Red Parrot - juicy at £7.95 - and snacks of gloopy guacamole, salt and pepper squid, and crispy, melted cheese pastels. DJs spin electro-bossa and power samba and by 10pm, this Copacabana carnival is steaming. An excited girl is proudly showing off a selfie taken with Olly Murs. "Shame it wasn't Zayn!" sighs her friend. "Or Justin" adds another. In years to come, I imagine the girls will, like my chums, be just as inconsolable when the visionary, talented, truly original, not-at-all manufactured epoch-defining Messrs Malik and Bieber depart this mortal coil.
201 - 207 Ferndale Road SW9 8BE 7326 5760