Working on a consultancy basis for site owner Delwar Matin, Fluid Movement has created a 34-cover bar predominantly serving a range of punches that feature rum and traditional Indian herbs and spices.
Designed by regular Fluid Movement designer Suzann Bozorgi, VOC resembles a 17th Century tavern with subtle maritime influences, featuring exposed brick and wood.
Its main feature is a suspended rail of cask barrels; all containing a variety of punch cocktails. Behind the bar are a number of barrel and bottle-aged cocktails sealed with wax and given a “date of birth”. The older the bottles become, the more their price tag increases.
While VOC does not currently have a food offer, Fluid Movement plans to eventually introduce a simple menu of grilled steaks.
“The menu is adapted from a historical reference,” said Thomas Aske, co-founder of Fluid Movement. “A group of aristocrats in 1735 called The Sublime Society of Beefsteaks, would get together on the last Friday of every month at 7pm as a ritual and only eat grilled steak with condiments, and only drink port or Arrack punch. So building on that we’ll only serve grilled steaks with a side, which comes with a 200ml bottle of punch or a port of your choice.”
While Fluid Movement is working with Matin in a consultancy role, the team will continue to oversee the project from a distance, allowing bar manager Alex Palumbo, formerly of Zuma and The Lonsdale, to run the operation.
The team also run speakeasy-inspired Purl in Marylebone and the new, gin palace-inspired The Whistling Shop in Shoreditch.
Aske added that while the team’s third bar was also based on a theme, their creations are by no means “tacky”.
“All our creations have a place in history,” he said. “We’re reviving a concept that was a way of drinking - the norm at one time. Trends change but they also come back. All we’re doing is reintroducing people into something that’s already been done. I don’t see them as themes, more a reference to history. There’s a big demand for authenticity now and people can see that with our bars. With the concepts we do there’s such history – it’s about giving people the ability to experience something from 400 years ago.
“There are a number of people who’ve done gin palaces and speakeasies now, as we have with Purl and The Whistling Shop, so it felt natural that the next progression was to go further back to the 17th Century where punch was the first style of mixed drink in the world. It’s where cocktails came from. It has a big historical meaning.”
The Dutch East India Company (Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie, or VOC), was a chartered trading company founded in 1602 to take advantage of the Malukan spice trade. Based in the port city of Batavia (now Jakarta), it established additional ports as trading bases and became arguably the first multinational corporation in the world.