Cromer bar to reopen with flair

A Cromer bar - which shut down on the same weekend as a town centre pub - is to be given a new lease of life when it reopens as a 'shabby chic' cocktail lounge, complete with acrobatic bartenders.

Buddies in Holt Road closed in September with a final farewell party just a day before the Dolphin pub in New Street served its last pint.

But now the large former station house is to be given another makeover and transformed into the No 98 bar – so named as it will serve a staggering list of 98 different cocktails, including sorbet and icecream concoctions.

The two-storey premises has been taken over by former colleagues Simon Atkinson, Chris Peters and Raphael Rayner, who have invested �20,000 in the premises and believe their new venture will have the biggest cocktail menu of any bar in the east of England.

The trio are all professionally trained flair bartenders, who have worked together both home and abroad in countries including Greece, Holland and America, and will now be bringing their bottle spinning alcohol acrobatics into Cromer when No 98 opens next Saturday .

Mr Atkinson, who has demonstrated his skills for a number of years at Delia Smith's food and wine workshops in Norwich, said No 98 hoped to bring a new breed of entertainment to Cromer, never before seen in the town.

'We'd like to become a real destination, a focal point for Cromer – we'd like to be infamous,' he added. 'I think once people have seen it, it will certainly be something to talk about.'

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The second floor of the bar will continue to host DJs, music and dancing but Mr Atkinson said No 98 would primarily be a bar with emphasis on the displays from its show stopping staff.

He said: 'It's very entertainment orientated so everybody has something to watch when they're in here. It's all about working flair and making the drink in front of the person, they'll be coming in for a quality product.

'It's always gone down well in the past so we hope it will here.'

New staff will be taken on for the bar's grand opening and a lucky few will be trained in the ways of flair, a career which the No 98 trio have honed over more than a decade of serving.

When it launches the bar will only be serving in the evenings but there are already plans to introduce a food menu and daytime openings in the new year – as well adding more creations to its burgeoning cocktail list.

Mr Atkinson said: 'Certainly towards the summer we'll really be show casing our fresh fruit cocktails, we would imagine that we'll be up to 150 by the summer – we'll go crazy!'

He and his bartender partners are now busy overhauling the building's interior with the aim of giving it a 'comfortable' feel ahead of next Saturday's opening.

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