12a is bringing a new concept to Cambridge as a members only champagne and cocktail lounge. Hidden amongst buildings on Market Square the unobtrusive doorway takes you upstairs, above Don Pasquale, to a whole new kind of bar experience. After being buzzed in, guests are welcomed by the host for the evening. Coats are taken and chairs are pulled out. There is a lovely long bar to seat yourself against.
The interior has been tastefully decorated and provides a cosy yet uncluttered feeling. The well-stocked bar is impressive to look at: I can't imagine there being any type of alcohol that is not stocked here.
Alternatively, settle into one of the comfortable leather armchairs or booths. Upstairs are two more rooms which can double up as meeting space during the day. The interior has been tastefully decorated and provides a cosy yet uncluttered feeling. The well-stocked bar is impressive to look at: I can't imagine there being any type of alcohol that is not stocked here. Once we were settled at the bar, we perused the drinks menu while water and breadsticks were provided without us having to ask. Menus are neatly tucked in the back of classic hardback novels, speakeasy style. There is a good list of wines and champagnes, and a small bookmark detailing some suggested cocktails. But the bartenders are keen not to work from a recipe book, and if you can answer a couple of questions about what you do and don't like, they will make you a drink of your choice. I really enjoyed this method, as I end up trying new mixes of things I wouldn't normally choose. I tried a "Cambridge Butterfly" to start with, and voiced some concern about the drops of Absinthe that would finish it off. The bartender insisted it would work, and of course he was right. The result looked -and tasted- fantastic. I also tried a non alcoholic Mojito, which was delicious, and I must admit I couldn't really taste the difference without the alcohol. Our host provided the right mix of conversation and privacy. The atmosphere was relaxed, with dotted conversation and music floating at a level that was just low enough so as not to intrude on our conversation. One of the best points about 12a is that full capacity is considered to be when every seat is taken. Not having to stand in a queue to get served at the bar on a Saturday night is a big selling point. It is a real pleasure to know you will never fight for the last seat in 12a. Members are allowed to bring guests, giving them a chance to review the club before perhaps taking the plunge into membership themselves. Booking ahead is always encouraged; especially more so now that Friday and Saturday nights are regularly a full house. What may go unnoticed is that 12a also opens during the day to provide a much needed coffee haven to those who want a break from the bustle of town. 12a has definitely found a niche in Cambridge. I'll certainly be back. From the range of drinks, to the atmosphere and top class service, it's good to find somewhere that really understands what its members want. Whether you're looking for a daytime coffee, or a Saturday night out with friends, the hosts at 12a will be ready and waiting to welcome you through their door. Single, Joint, and corporate membership prices are available on request at the clubs discretion.