After Hours

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The Independent Culture
I always enjoy a drink at the National Theatre bar, South Bank, London SE1 (071-928 2252). The trick is to arrive 10 minutes after the performance starts, then you have the whole place to yourself and that wonderful view of the river. There's a wonderful Brazilian restaurant called Oxygen, 18 Irving St, WC2 (071-930 0905). They do a most convincing caipirinha, which is a sugar cane spirit with ice, sugar and fresh limes. You can skip the noisy bar downstairs and eat upstairs; the food is less meat-oriented than in Brazil. In Rio de Janiero itself, it's worth being adventurous and going to Bip Bip, a tiny counter just off Copacabana beach, and having a peanut cocktail called a batida amendoim.

For the inevitable late-night Indian meal, I go to Sartaj, 26 Earlham St WC2, where you can mingle with sweaty actors fresh from performing. The decor's easy on the eye, and the vegetable thali is a classic. Or I might get a takeaway from a Turkish place called Lezzet Lokanta, 330 Essex Rd N1 (071-226 7418), who do Mediterranean dips and a wonderful home-baked bread.

Although I work there, I like the Comedy Store, 1 Oxendon St SW1 (071-839 6642) for a late drink, but two other good places I go are members' clubs. The Players Club is under the Players Theatre, The Arches, Villiers St, WC1 (071- 839 1134) which is used by all sorts of people who work in the West End and don't finish until most things are closed. The other is MacReady's, a bar on HMS President, which is docked at Victoria Embankment, EC4, at the bottom of the pontoon (071-583 1597). I can't tell you how to become a member because I don't want everyone to know about it. But it's great, especially in the summer, sitting out on the deck.

Richard Vranch is a Comedy Store Player, Suns & Weds at the Comedy Store, and co-stars with Paul Merton at the London Palladium 21 Mar-2 Apr

(Photograph omitted)

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