To the untrained eye, The Book Cover is (no pun intended) exactly what it says on the cover. Bookish, elusive; antiquated-to all intents and purposes, it’s a book shop only Dickens himself could have envisioned.
However, cloaked behind the bookshelves, the curtains, and enigmatic librarian Mrs Lebowski emerges a cocktail bar plucked straight from an F. Scott Fitzgerald novel: a 1920s-themed speakeasy bar, and the latest in Exeter’s burgeoning cocktail scene.
Boasting an array of cocktails, gin and tapas, the options are diverse and versatile, yet come with a hefty price tag. With drinks ranging from £6-12, it’s hardly the prime location for liver-destroying, pre-pull fodder. Yet, if you’re hoping for a classy drink with the girls, or (in the experience of one group) a nun-clad stag do, the staff are perpetually friendly, chatty, and (with a little bit of charm) willing to offer you an exclusive off-the-menu drink. Indeed, if you’re looking to share, the Trap Room punch has the chic veneer of a white wine, with the strength of a liquefied Mike Tyson.
a cocktail bar plucked straight from an F. Scott Fitzgerald novel
Nestled on the corner of Longbrook Street in the former home of Base + Barley, it’s only a stone’s throw away from The Old Firehouse, while sufficiently isolated from the hustle and bustle of the centre of town. It’s this sense of exclusivity which is perhaps so unique to The Book Cover: don’t think you can lollop on in if you don’t know the password. Other rules include not bringing anyone who “you would not bring to your parents’ house for Sunday dinner”, and to the gentlemen, “no brazen come ons”.
Featuring a range of entertainment, The Book Cover boasts live magicians, jazz musicians and burlesque dancers to name but a few. A quick scour of their website reveals their latest events, from lindy hop and tapas, to burlesque and electro swing.
‘20s dress is not obligatory, but is more than encouraged by brace-clad waiters, suited magicians and the jazz musicians crooning over the speakers. For Head of Marketing, Sarah Lacey, “what makes The Book Cover so special is how unique it is. It’s the only proper speakeasy in Exeter, with the added twist of the password. Everyone is in character, even Mrs Lebowski [your host librarian] in authentic 1920s dress. The cocktails, the music; they’re all authentic with a twist; nowhere else is using live burlesque dancers or magicians. People will leave feeling like they’ve had an experience, not just been out for a drink.”
Although perhaps not the cheapest place in Exeter to knock back a gin and tonic, The Book Cover is quirky, classy, and – in a landscape of chain restaurants and uniform pubs – overwhelmingly unique. Perfectly combining a decadent aesthetic with extravagantly friendly service, be you on a first date, a girls’ night out or simply hoping to escape for an evening, The Book Cover is unequivocally inimitable.
To contact The Book Cover, call 01392 279393, find their website at thebookcover.co.uk, or message them on Facebook.
Their address is: The Book Cover, Portland House, Longbrook Street, Exeter, EX4 6AU