Naughty but (very) nice
By Sarah-Jane Smith - Editor
- Issue 2
Shrewsbury’s Butcher Row is today pulsating to a whole new beat. Sarah-Jane Smith talks to one of those calling the tune . . .
Gone are Butcher Row’s days as a shadowy rabbit run off Pride Hill where passers-by rarely lingered. It has now taken on a continental mantle with a thriving street cafe culture all of its own.
At its heart sits one of the town’s hottest social spots, the currently oh-so-trendy The Libertine Cocktail Bar and Tea Rooms. By day, The Libertine is a character-packed vintage coffee house, oozing continental charm as a resting point to take coffee or ponder over a pot of fine, loose-leaf tea. But, by night, a quick costume change later, when the candles start to flicker, she is transformed into a sultry seductress serving up sexy cocktails – and not just in common-or-garden glasses, as milk bottles and large china cups are used to add spice to an already highly charged atmosphere.
The Libertine is the brainchild of its owner, 28-year-old Sam Taylor. The Shrewsbury businessman says he has selected the best ingredients from the many bars he has both worked in and enjoyed on his world travels to create his Butcher Row baby.
And its name, chosen after brainstorming with his sister, is no happy accident. For Libertine conjures up just enough tongue-in-cheek naughtiness for its proprietor, who received gold in the third Mayor of Shrewsbury Awards held in May for his entrepreneurial achievements.
Many will immediately recall, most obviously, the band The Libertines, while others will think of the erotic French comedy Le Libertin. Some may know the true meaning of a libertine – as one devoid of most moral restraints which they see as unnecessary or undesirable. Notable libertines include Lord Byron, Casanova and the Marquis de Sade . . .
So which did this talented young businessman have in mind when he selected the name of his establishment?
Sam, who talks non-stop about his plans for the future, Shrewsbury’s social scene, what he thinks the town needs, and his own general love of life, draws breath to ponder.
“Well, any of them or all of them – it doesn’t really matter. I just want to make sure the place feels welcoming for anyone who comes in, whatever the time of day or night.
“It’s really important that people feel comfortable and just enjoy being here, for whatever reason.
“Winning the mayor’s gold award was a tremendous boost and I’m still not really sure how we did it. All we are trying to do is make sure everything feels right and create an atmosphere which people appreciate.”
And with that, as suddenly as he appeared, Mr Libertine himself bounds off, out of the sunlight into the darker recesses of the bar to catch up with his trusted team . . .