Trailer Happiness has been winning many happy fans ever since it opened its doors in Portobello Road. You can see easily see why. To start with the staff and owners are so friendly and laid back you feel you’ve stepped into a support group rather than a bar. Albeit one with its own unique decor, vibe and supply of rum based beverages.
Because this is a Tiki bar, a perfectly formed example of a phenomena that somehow originated in the post prohibition California of the 1930s. Apparently, as an ever helpful waitress explained, some bars of the time began adopting a Polynesian vibe with bamboo furniture, exotic masks, kitsch pictures, loud shirts and rum based cocktails featuring the flavours of a variety of exotic fruits. Perhaps it was an attempt to brighten the gloom that the recent ban on alcohol had laid over the whole nation. More likely it was intrepid travellers bringing back and integrating the styles and tastes they had discovered during their sojourns in the South Pacific.
Trailer Happiness has resurrected the Tiki bar and taken it to a new level of tasty trendiness that leaves behind your Trader Vic’s of this world (although we can’t help but have a soft spot for Trader’s based solely on a childhood visit to the Hilton Hotel outpost on Park Lane that was so unbelievably different from 70s London it was like being on another planet)
You descend into its subterranean home to find low lighting and low comfortable seating ideal for a little slouching and supping of strong drinks. Trailer happiness, as a good Tiki bar, should, devotes itself to the finest in Rum based cocktails. The kindly barman, wearing a very fetching Hawaiian shirt that belied the cold wet weather, outside recommended a trailer Colada – literally smoking rum concoction, created with the help of a blow torch and served up in hollowed out coconut husk, adorned with a smouldering incense stick. This went down very well with my companion.
After a hard evening’s toil the previous night reviewing bar after bar in Borough I was feeling a little fragile and was kindly pointed in the direction of a Hemingway Daiquiri, which eschewed the traditional cocktail sweetness and replaced it with a little saltiness – apparently the perfect way to counteract the effects of a hangover. I think it worked. After a couple I certainly felt a lot better.
We arrived early and could have stayed very late. As the bar began to fill up we felt more and more at home, unfortunately duty called and more bars beckoned. But to paraphrase Arnold Schwarzenegger, another fan of loud Hawaiian shirts: “We’ll be back”
177 Portobello Rd