When the Apollo was first converted from a Methodist church into a theatre a covenant prevented the sale and consumption of alcoholic drinks on the premises, and it was not until 1987 that the theatre was allowed a drinks licence. Until 2000 the bar was located in a small room on the first floor behind the circle, known as the Hancock Room after the theatre’s founder; however, in that year the ground floor of the house next door, now known as Hancock House, which the theatre had bought in 1992, was converted into a new bar and coffee lounge and formally opened by the late Kenneth Kendall, the former newsreader.
The theatre bar, staffed by volunteers, now does a brisk trade and despite very competitive pricing contributes significantly to theatre funds. An extensive range of drinks is available, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic, and a range of cocktails is also on offer – often created specifically for a particular show. Drivers can also find non-alcoholic cocktails, and coffee and tea are always available. The bar has a warm and welcoming atmosphere and is greatly appreciated by theatre patrons. It is open from an hour before the performance starts until 11.00pm Monday to Thursday, 12.00pm Friday and Saturday and 10.30pm on Sundays. During each show an exhibition of artworks by local artists is displayed on the walls.
The idea of making special cocktails for each show occurred during rehearsals for ‘Plaza Suite’ in 2004, when two of the characters were drinking vodka stingers – which subsequently became one of our most popular (check out our range of cocktails for the recipe!). Each alcoholic cocktail and glass of wine has the alcohol content listed in units (one alcohol unit is equivalent to 25ml whisky at 40% proof). Some of our recent cocktails have included: ‘Under Milk Wood‘, music hall, Leading Ladies, The Children’s Hour and Gypsy. If there’s a particular cocktail you’d like to try, our versatile bar staff will be happy to make it for you!
Over time since its opening in 2000, it became clear to us that the bar needed an upgrade. The coffee bar area wasn’t used enough to justify the space it took up, and for popular shows there wasn’t enough seating for our patrons. During 2015, therefore, a dedicated band of volunteers undertook a major refurbishment of the bar area; the coffee bar was removed and a coffee area added to the bar itself, along with new shutters and other practical changes like a dishwasher and lots more chiller space. The ‘after’ and ‘before’ photos below give you an idea of the changes; but come along and have a drink and experience the new ambience for yourself! The bar will formally be named after one of our founders, John Underwood.