FRESHLY SQUEEZED: LIFE AT THE BRINK
Not many bars in the Ropewalks offer your five a day, and an alternative way to kick back with mates. Then again, as Tori Hywel-Davies discovers, Brink offers bar life, but not as we know it.
It may be a sobering thought for some but it’s easy to see why The Brink, the new foodie bar in town, is going to go down a storm. Even aside from its daring concept (and Liverpool always loves one of these), its assembly has a winning combination stamped all over its juicy DNA.
And talking of juices… they’re one of Brink’s freshly squeezed specialities along with a selection of Mr Fitzpatrick’s tempting cordials and mixers (like Acai Blend No7 or Elderflower and Bramley Apple). Then, there’s the mouth-watering selection of local and organic food created by Tom Gill, former head chef at the Everyman.
For his faithful fans (and Lord knows he has them), Tom needs little introduction given his 11-year reputation for scrumptious grub at the city’s much-loved Hope Street venue. Similarly, his new daily menu at The Brink won’t disappoint – only this time, add breakfast into the equation. But Tom isn’t The Brink’s ‘unusual concept’ – he is the venue’s good fortune. The concept that makes it one of a kind for our city – and to a large degree, the UK – lies with its booze-free ethic. That’s right: The Brink serves no alcohol.
“The idea was to provide the recovering communities with a home or a base to meet that was substance-free as well as offering a great venue to a whole host of people from the local community,” explains Damien Kelly, The Brink’s community engagement manager.
“As well as food and drink, we have wifi and we’re starting our events on 6 October with an improvisation collective called Impromptu. They say they’re a bit ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’ but British and better than ‘Whose Line Is It Anyway?’!”
And the future programme of events looks set to bring in everyone who’s anyone because there will be bands, spoken word nights, bike recycling, Zumba sessions and bread-making lessons (they make it fresh on-site for punters). And amazingly, and possibly another first, a dog club!
A former garage, The Brink is a funky little venue with a good vibe tucked into Parr Street just down from the 3345 bar. And it houses all the contemporary trappings you’d expect from downtown urban stylists Natalie Haywood (Leaf), Richard Eastwood (R2A) and Benji Holroyd (SB Studios) who have lent their might to its owners and managers, Action on Addiction.
Anyone familiar with the aesthetically pleasing surrounds of Leaf on Bold Street, Alma de Cuba, Panoramic, Noble House to name a few will recognise Richard Eastwood’s input. He’s the man who’ll rub his beard and smile when all you’re showing is a ramshackle space thirsting for love.
Industrial features are layered with quirky, homely tables and chairs, trademark feature lampshades (this time with plants) and a sunny courtyard that no-one could have believed would be full as an egg for its hot September launch.
The branding comes from Benji Holroyd at SB Studios, a Liverpool-based company that’s responsible for as much international as regional work.
The Brink’s peppy, spirited brand helps to challenge the stereotypical image that could saddle a venue associated with recovering addicts. But The Brink is different and actively wants to increase awareness about the recovering community without being, well, stereotypical and by that, I mean evangelical village hall – apologetic?
The excellent copywriting throughout the bar, like a slap in the face, adds a certain mellow cockiness to The Brink:
DOCKERS SHOCKERS OLD PUNK ROCKERS and ALLEYS SCALLIES DILLY DALLIES MAKERS BREAKERS
“During its inception, Benji and Richard joined focus groups with members of the recovering community and the uniqueness of these great characters really stood out; they came from all walks of life. “Benji quickly grasped that so the branding was influenced by these revelations,” says Damien who has been free of addiction for three years.
“There are thousands of people in this city whose lives – including my own – have been decimated by alcohol dependency and drug issues.
“Luckily, I’m free of it and there are always more people coming through but it’s still stigmatised. I hope The Brink will help change that by opening its doors and providing a space where the recovering community can hang out side-by-side with people who haven’t experienced that.”
As the venue’s nice-looking newspaper says: “The Brink is not a charity, it’s a recovery social enterprise.” Step forward Natalie Haywood – founder of Leaf on Bold Street – whose business support and mentoring helped Jacquie Johnston-Lynch, head of service for Action on Addiction (and woman at the helm) to help her breath life into The Brink.
So the venue, with its winning combination of good food and drink, stylish interior and brand, prerequisite wifi and no doubt interesting heads about town will be a much welcomed addition to the Ropewalks’ family of hang outs.