Perhaps it’s not surprising that one of the best rum bars that London has to offer would be found in an area that has a strong Caribbean influence. Notting Hill can at times feel like a self contained village of pure “coolness” nestled as it is in busy West London. The world famous Notting Hill Carnival loops around the hub of Portobello Road and it’s in the centre of all this that you can find Trailer Happiness. I think it’s an absolute must see for any rummy visiting the UK’s capital city.
Trailer Happiness is a basement bar located on the corner of Portobello Road and Elgin Crescent and is fast approaching her 10th birthday. For a bar to last as long as that in the same format means it must be doing something right. It’s popular with a base of loyal regulars and invariably has a member or two of the drinks industry there too which further alludes to the reason for its success.
With one of the biggest selections of rum to be found in any bar in London and probably the world, Trailer Happiness reveals its spiritual heart in the form of educational “Rum Club” sessions that are regularly held there. If you want to learn about rum, then Trailer is the place to be. The current Bar Manager is Jim Wrigley, previously the international Brand Ambassador for Santa Teresa – that’s not bad eh? Owner Richard Hunt is a massively well respected mixologist (a term I use sparingly as most don’t deserve the self-appointed title) and can often to be found imparting knowledge and wisdom to eager bartenders all over the world.
It must be stressed that Trailer Happiness is not a Caribbean themed bar, but it’s fair to say it may draw some Caribbean influence here and there for sure. It’s styled along the lines of an intimate lounge bar and den with the e-z-boy feel of a low rent, mid-60s California valley bachelor pad. Tending towards the kitsch and has a reputation for being a proper Tiki bar. It’s not overtly island styled in the archetypical Tiki way, it’s more relaxed and subtle to make the experience more inclusive and less theatrical. Regular DJ nights add a fantastic vibe and you can expect anything from “The Harder They Come” meets “California Psychedelica” to West London Ska and Dub Lounge Beats, mixed up with the best rich and exotic funk and swinging beats from the ‘in crowd’ and beat generation. Rockin’ blues and independent hip hop may sound eclectic, but spend a night at Trailer and you’ll understand why it works.
The cocktail list these days is not overtly rum orientated, but that shouldn’t put you off as you can always go off menu. If you have a desire for a Tiki classic like a Mai Tai or a Missionaries Downfall all you need do is ask… I find a daiquiri suits most occasions and if a mixed drink seems too fancy, then one of the hundreds of rums available served to suit you will surely tick all the right boxes.
A recent trip to Trailer one Friday night found the bar full of happy, partying people obviously enjoying themselves. The DJ had the best tunes playing and it struck me that Trailer Happiness didn’t really feel like a bar, it felt more like a house party and that made me feel even more happy…