It’s 9 p.m., Wednesday night, and I’ve already ripped and ravaged five menus. Thirty minutes later, and that number stands at eight. But rather than sticking me in a headlock, the co-owner of Kita Koguta approaches me and hands me a gift – a wooden yo-yo emblazoned with their logo. This is not, you understand, an ordinary bar. Firstly, an explanation: the menu here is paper, and while the front page lists their cocktails, the back page has illustrative instructions detailing how to make a paper cock (as in a rooster, not something rude). Before I’ve even ordered drink No. 1, barmaid Anita whispers suggestively that should I complete such challenge I’ll win a surprise. Game on.
This alone tells you a lot about Kita Koguta: to expect the unexpected. Underlining this is a design that celebrates the strange – the light wood and industrial touches of downstairs are offset by wacky murals of the staff, not to mention a bike hanging from the wall. The bike has antlers… Upstairs though, Kita opens up into a more loungey affair: there are colorful armchairs, plentiful tables and another bar. It’s not the stark, slick look favored by other cocktail bars, rather the sort of aesthetic that puts you at ease. But we’ve already been warned by Anita that she’ll be mad with us if we stray up there, so back downstairs we toddle – the Insider does not let a lady down.
Her end of the bargain is kept by way of a range of cocktails that leave us thrilled. There is the venomous Po Godzinach, an exciting blend of Bombay Sapphire, De Kuyper Crème de Cacao and Absinth. Next up, Pimm’s Sour, an off-menu creation we’re told was invented ‘this morning’. Devoid of fruit, and fixed with a touch of Martini, this is not like any Pimm’s I’ve tasted before. Strangely, it works, in spite of initial misgivings. But pride of place goes to the Kurczak Po Tajkski, a fruity affair in a bamboo-clad glass. Throughout all this, we’re kept constantly engaged in banter with the bar staff. I like this, and I like Kita Koguta. Free from the pompous prattery of Bar Max down the road, it’s the kind of cocktail bar that Warsaw’s been waiting for.
(Words: Alex Webber; Photo: Ed Wight)