Have you ever been waiting for a train at a crowded station only to notice that everyone else is doing the same and becoming increasingly annoyed which feeds a growing tension that feels like it might explode into complete chaos? You’re not the only one. 

Fortunately, if you’re waiting for that train at Clapham Junction, there exists respite not too far away, respite whose name ironically represents the building tension that you just escaped.

Powder Keg Diplomacy interior

Powder Keg Diplomacy, a Victorian-era venue, sits a few hundred metres up the road in St. John’s Hill. The term “powder keg”, apart from its literal definition, came to mean “a potential source of violence or war” particularly referencing the beginning of World War I in which a complicated series of seemingly minor events built up until the assassination of Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo. In the bar’s case, Powder Keg Diplomacy is a nod to the British Empire and its superior Navy which is said to have employed the tactic of starting a battle to claim a territory it wanted, the battle fueled by the powder kegs whose contents lit the Navy’s canons. 

In bar form, PKD is nothing but diplomatic with its guests, entertaining them with music and magicians, feeding them scrumptious fare and sourcing the best drinks it can find.

Although it can’t avoid them completely, PKD tries to stay away from high street brands in favor of beers, wines and spirits more delicately distilled. If, say, an old English protectorate, a South Africa or India, comes out with something new, the bar will try to get its black-powdered hands on it and spice up the menu. For instance, they enjoyed the Craft Gin Club’s November Gin, Burleigh’s, so much that Master Distiller Jamie Baxter is popping in for a visit and the bar plans to begin carrying Burleigh’s regularly. 

powder keg bar

Guests can enjoy a cocktail as well as a meal, as PKD doubles as a restaurant, serving only fresh ingredients meaning that the menu may vary from day to day. As it is a Victorian establishment, PKD features mainly British fare such as pheasant with horseradish mash and venison with stout sauce. Even if the day to day varies, the official menu changes seasonly for food that accommodates the weather. 

The cocktail menu takes a similar approach, and the chefs and bartenders work together in an effort to pair drinks with nosh. Cocktails are often mixed with homemade syrups such as grenadine, drinks such as ginger beer, and liqueurs made with bases such as almonds. The bar staff is even making its own limoncello which will be ready for Christmas.

So if you find yourself waiting at Clapham Junction in a crowd of people stewing over late trains, the tension building, get out before that powder keg explodes and head up the road to a more diplomatic spot for a drink.