This is a guest post written by Peter and Pauline Holland of The Floating Rum Shack. Peter and Pauline are avid rum enthusiasts and great friends of both this site and its humble author. They live in the UK, where they have a much easier time making it down to Trailer Happiness to enjoy what Rikki Brodrick has wrought there than I do.
To quote their website “Trailer Happiness is an intimate lounge bar, den and kitchen… with the e-z-boy feel of a low rent, mid-60’s California valley bachelor pad.”
Well, after reading that, I wasn’t really sure of what I was expecting to find the first time we visited Trailer. A below street level bar which is filled with so many kitsch items that it’s like stepping back in time (for those above a certain age). It is without question easy-going – there’s no dress code, it’s just all about having a good time. There’s always a DJ to add a cool/crossover/eclectic vibe – especially when there’s a tiki DJ in.
Trailer Happiness is located at 177 Portobello Road, Notting Hill, London (if you’re in London and heading there in a taxi – asking for the corner of Elgin and Portobello drops you right off outside). The nearest tube is Ladbroke Grove which is to the north, or Notting Hill Gate to the south (approximately) – a bit of a walk in either case. Trailer Happiness is generally quieter during hot summer days as the underground bar doesn’t get any sunshine and this keeps people away. There are a few smokers seats at street level. As soon as the sun goes down, expect the party to begin. Trailer Happiness is located within a veritable hub of top quality bars – this area of Notting Hill is really nice – I’d love an apartment there, but then a lottery win will be required to fulfil that ambition.
So go on… ask me what are the drinks are like.
Top quality, I’m telling you! This is a Tiki haven in the trendy, cosmopolitan surrounds of Notting hill. Combining fantastic flavours with interesting drinking vessels, and more importantly it’s not going to blow your hard earned cash. Drink prices are very good – £9 for a great Mai Tai. The Zombie experience is something I’ll hint at, but leave to you to experience first hand… Trailer Happiness isn’t afraid to set fire to things! Anyone who keeps a mister filled with Wray & Nephew Overproof is a serious firestarter.
[Note: Peter may not want to describe it, but I have video of my experience there in 2008]
The menu is a starting point really – the knowledgeable staff can pretty much whip up anything from their well stocked bar. There’s all manner of other classic style and rum based cocktails suggested – more than enough to guarantee you’ll find yourself becoming pleasantly inebriated.
Mixed drinks side, Trailer Happiness has one of the best rum collections in London. It’s not the largest, but it’s certainly very impressive. The menu shows about forty key rums in the collection, but the back bar must have over a hundred, probably two hundred present. It looks very impressive I can tell you and, if I could, I’d be there more often, working my way though them.
So why did Pauline and I head there for the first time?
Well our early days of rum researching when we launched TheFloatingRumShack.com, we turned up references to the Rum Club which is located there. It was just a regular Saturday for our first visit and although busy, the hostess was just fabulous ensuring a very positive first feel.
A cocktail or two later, I was ready to try the rum collection – I may have chosen one or two, but I then started saying “I’ll have whatever the bartender recommends.” This is when the true measure of Trailer came out. It was a long time ago, but through the haze, I recall that once an interest in rum was shown, our bartender, James (as it was at the time), got interested. A few minutes after we got our drinks served, he left the bar to come and talk about the rum and to make sure I was happy with the selection. A couple more suggestions later and I was being introduced to rums that I’d probably never have picked from the menu. This is surely the best way and I’m happy to thank Trailer for encouraging my early inquisitive forays.
We visit whenever we can, but it is Rum Club that gets us there most regularly. The first Monday of the month (normally) is Rum Club. It’s the opportunity for a particular brand to take the floor and tell the enthusiastic, knowledgeable, geeky rum fans all about what separates their brand from the others. This is the key thing for me – it’s so easy to generalise with a spirit, but there really is so much variation with rum in terms of flavour and history. I find it absolutely fascinating and can inspire a passion that general manager: Rikki Brodrick and bartenders Matthew and Inko will do all in their powers to encourage.
So get yourself down there and tell them that The Floating Rum Shack sent you. You won’t get a prize or even a free drink, but you might get an education in rum!
For more of Peter and Pauline’s adventures in rum, be sure to check out TheFloatingRumShack.com!
Question of the Day:
Have you ever been to Trailer Happiness? Care to share your experiences?
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We love that Trailer Happiness in the great little London neighborhood of Portobello road near Nottinghill. Fantastic drinks menu, great bartenders, crazy cool specialty drinks, a nice mix of cocktail enthusiasts and locals find their way into this basement den of fine rummery. Just a few doors down, Jake’s Portobello Star is another incredible watering hole.
Hmmm. Think I’ve been there once or twice. My memory is a bit fuzzy from that night. Too much Appleton 12.