While the city of Liverpool might be awash with chain restaurants, swanky eateries and the kind of cocktail bars that require legal proof of a curly blow within the last 24 hours to the untrained eye, it is actually a hive of hidden gems. As I said in my recent review of Blind Tiger, Seel Street, Liverpool is positively riddled with incredible independent bars and restaurants beneath that mainstream surface. All you gotta do is look for them… or follow me on Twitter and Instagram to make sure you stay in the loop with this here food and drink blog where I do all the rooting out and reviewing for you.
Next in a long line of fabulous backstreet finds is a place that has had me humming the All American Rejects for weeks. It goes by the name of Dirty Little Secret (I’ll keep you my…) and is nestled in a slender spot on the cobbles of Wood Street. This particular road houses some of the city’s most notorious nightlife spots – I’m looking at you Krazyhouse, Pop World and Ca Va – and formerly, the legendary Camel Club.
The Camel Club was an Aladdin’s Cave of cheap drinks and retro R&B soundtracks where my gal pals and I spent many a debauched evening slut dropping to Sean Paul. I’m still suffering the ankle injury even three or four years after its departure. Its closure has left a hole that is yet to be filled so when I went along to see what is now in its place, I have to admit, I was harbouring a smidge of resentment.
Yes, for any locals or Liverpool regulars reading this, Dirty Little Secret is now where Camel Club once was but let me start by saying, you won’t be disappointed. The North African-style décor and cave-like vibes have been given a swanky refurb but I can confirm the spirit of the Camel Club still lives on, if only very subtly. I was pleased to see a selection of low-slung upholstered booths, bar stools and various tables to afford plenty of seating room around one whacking (and well endowed) bar.
In case you haven’t already gathered from the image above (which were lit by iPhone torch light on account of such sultry ambiance), Dirty Little Secret is home to the Cereal Thriller cocktail (£8). This kitsch little concoction has been making its way onto Instagram profiles in their droves since the bar opened earlier this year so I just had to see what all the fuss is about…
It’s a mini box of Coco Pops into which vodka, Frangelico, vanilla liqueur, Crème de Cacao, cream and Nutella are all poured – cereals and little plastic packet ‘n’ all. It’s topped with whipped cream and a chocolate dust to create a positively orgasmic mixture that I don’t quite know how I survived this far without. Sure, it’s indulgent and no you probably don’t want to have ten gallons of cream-based alcohol swilling around your gut on a night out but if you’re just catching a couple of drinks with a friend and are as much of a sucker for novelty or a dessert cocktail as I am then you’ll love it.
Those who feel queasy just reading that beverage biography above might prefer the Dirty Old Fashioned (£7) or the Secret Sailor (£7) we went for on our second sampling of the cocktail list. The former was a sterling interpretation of the classic using Bulleit Bourbon Frontier Whiskey, sugar cane syrup and Angostura Bitters. The latter was a sweet muddle of Sailor Jerry’s rum, vanilla liqueur, passion fruit syrup, strawberry puree, Coco Real and pineapple juice. It looked more like a Sex on the Beach but tasted a lot like the love child of Piña Colada and strawberry jam – a combo I can most definitely get on board with.
What I did love about the Dirty Little Secret cocktail menu was that it shows the measurements for each ingredient in the drink so you can make them at home too. Cute, no?
With a car parked just up the road and a busy weekend ahead of us, we decided to cap the alcohol consumption there but we couldn’t leave without road testing a DLS pizza. The bar offers a choice of two flavours: Margherita and Dirty Pepperoni, both of which are about 14” in diameter and an absolute bargain at £5 for the whole thing. Had the illogical cost implications not totally ruled out my theory, I’d have suspiciously accused the guys of ordering a sneaky Domino’s through the back door. It shared the same delicious floury crust and generous toppings as our good friend, Dom and was a bloody good quality pizza for the price.
I’ve recommended Dirty Little Secret to work colleagues, groups of friends and couple alike since because it’s just one of those great places you can fall back on when you want somewhere to sip nice drinks, maybe snack a little and actually be able to hear each other speak. I believe the atmosphere doesn’t get a lively as the night unfolds but hey, when there are Ribena Daiquiris (£7) and 4-for-£10 shot deals on the table, I’d expect no bloomin’ less.
I was very kindly invited to review Dirty Little Secret but all words, photographs, opinions, teeth, hair, boobs and nails are my very own.