Bedford & Strand, The Strand

Type of Bar: Bar/Restaurant, Basement
Ideal for: Date, Small Groups, Large Groups, Food

I’m not sure what it is, but there’s nothing *quite* like the Bedford and Strand in London, and a place the Hoodooist adores. Through a tiny doorway on the corner of (you guessed it) Bedford and Strand, a stairway leads you down to a surprisingly large space for dining and drinking that gets absolutely rammed on weekend nights.

Zinc-bar-inspired, an enormous – beautiful – bar takes all the attention, opposed to the dining area and the few drinking booths on the left, under beams and vines, around random partitions separating the largest table from the rest. I have to admit, I am incredibly biased to the design, in terms of what they were going for, they nailed it on the head. Especially earlier on in the evening, before the place gets crowded. Which is painful since drinks have to be ordered at the bar unless you’re dining.


The cocktail list is fairly simple, not particularly adventurous (not a bad thing, though – if you know your strengths), except for a couple of which stand out.

The star of Cocktail Week 2013 stands out as one of their exceptional drinks, the Foxey Lady #2. Col. Fox Gin, Merlet Fraise, Strawberry Puree, fresh lemon, spicy balsamic vinegar. Soft, smooth, and indeed sweet, the drink balanced wonderful with a bit of balsamic savouriness with a spicy kick following. Very easy to drink, great to relax with.

The Alchemist, I couldn’t really make my mind up on. Pikesville Rye, Kamm & Son’s ginseng, Benedictine and Peychaud’s bitters. The Kamm and Son’s and Benedictine lead to an intensely herbal drink, luckily the slight honeyed note of the Kamm and Son’s help deal with that – but is then followed by the spiciness of the Pikesville, with a gritty finish. The use of a lemon garnish could instead be substituted for orange, because of the dryness of the drink. This one takes time.

Finally, the Ginger Caiprinha didn’t stand out as much as you think it would – but is still a very decent drink. Cachaça, King’s Ginger liqueur, Ginger wine, fresh lime. As much as I love ginger cocktails, it started to feel a bit excessive here, but the Cachaça saved the day. A good drink, but not a great one; decent for 9 pounds.

L-R: Foxey Lady #2; Ginger Caiprinha; The Alchemist

L-R: Foxey Lady #2; Ginger Caiprinha; The Alchemist

Service is swift, polite. Sure, the absence of table service if you’re not eating can be a trial, but it has its charm in a way – I just know that I will be coming in the early daylit hours to avoid the crowd. Not to mention the over-the-counter food is wonderful. All in all, a bar worth recommending, with a unique style this side of Europe.

Drinks: ***
Atmosphere: ****
Service: ***


Bedford & Strand

1a Bedford Street,
London, WC2E 9HH


Bar Americain @ Brasserie Zedel, Soho

Type of Bar: Vintage, French, Bar/Restaurant
Ideal for: Date, Small Groups, Classics


The Brasserie Zedel is so far (up until the Beaumont Hotel, coming soon) Corbin and King’s largest venture, spanning three floors: the ZL Café as you enter, below it is the Crazy Coqs, and finally the Bar Americain and Brasserie. The tiered gastronomicon is a feast for the eyes, and with good reason appeared in the top 10 of Archtectural Digest’s Most Beautiful Venues.
The Hoodooist adores the ZL café as a respite from the bustling Piccadilly Circus, and cannot resist the charm of the Francophone staff and spot-on French café interior – who needs a Eurostar ticket? Especially with the wine list which, though short, has much to offer in quality and price.
Down the stairs, you find yourself in an Art Deco paradise, faced with two very different bars: The Crazy Coqs and the Bar Americain.

The Crazy Coqs Cabaret provides a Lynchian red and monochrome setting for daily cabaret, comedy and jazz performances. Where drinks (10 pounds a pop) are concerned, we find top-shelf liquors served up in classics, suiting the nature of the bar perfectly.

Next, getting past the dashing host of the Bar Americain: the sumptuous venue, again arrayed with the Zedel’s trademark illuminated pillars, is decorated with images of aeroplanes and Sylvain Chomet-esque sketches in a dim-lit environment. Very easy to relax in; fantastic to bring in a couple of friends, and perfect for a date.

You’re faced with classics and a short, but enterprising list of house cocktails. The selection is varied in style, from the bright and lively French Aperitif and Parisian Summer; to the deeper and darker Chrysler Cocktail and Valentino’s Revenge.

The Josephine is a spectacular accomplishment: Golden Rum, Lillet Rouge, Campari, Benedictine, bitters. The initial assault of golden sweetness sinks into the depth of the Lillet Rouge, finally brought up to distant herbal simmer to balance with the Campari and Benedictine. Smooth, and surprisingly easy to drink, the Josephine is quite possibly one of my favourite drinks here.

Lee Hyde’s expertise creates spectacular drinks, but some of the recipes in an attempt to be adventurous, overload the senses with too many ingredients, for example: the Chrysler Cocktail that has such potential, ends up confused and muddled. The Chrysler, even in theory sounds like it needs to lose something, but would then taste wonderful if it did: Cognac, Chambord, port, Campari, Orange Curacao and bitters. On the other hand, the Metropolis’ simple combination of Crémant, cherry liqueur, Orgeat, bitters and lime is a winning combination.

Not to mention, here, classics rule the roost. A whiskey Old Fashioned to knock your socks off and a Martini for days. Beautifully done.


Finally, the Brasserie Zedel – I’m not going to spend long on this, I’ll just say that French friends quickly took to the brasserie, and it certainly is fun to see a Parisian squeal and swear happily at the sight of the menu. Prices can range between 11 pounds for Prix Fixe menus, or go crazy a la carte. The versatile prices mean a wide range of patrons, and therefore always busy. Booking in advance for a Saturday night is necessary, and pre-theatre dinners are packed. There is a selection of tables kept aside, so if you’re walking in, you might still be lucky with a small party.


The Bar Americain and Zedel are impeccable. The variety in what it has to offer makes it a destination all unto itself – on a night out, we struggle to stay in one venue and normally dine or drink in each one.

I’ve always expressed my fondness for Corbin and King ventures, and Zedel was actually my introduction to them. I was similarly impressed by their Fischer’s, Colbert, and Delaunay (Click HERE for review!). I excitedly look forward to the Beaumont Hotel (2014).

Drinks: ****
Atmosphere: *****
Service: ****


Bar Americain @ Brasserie Zedel

20 Sherwood Street
London W1F 7ED

Cocktails in the City 2014, London

Cocktails in the City came in for 2 days and swept the Hoodooist’s life into a tizzy. Working in conjunction with the upcoming London Cocktail Week and the Boutique Bar Show the day before, CitC brought several bars representing several spirit brands (present at the Boutique Bar Show) together under one roof of the St. Pancras Grand Hall.

Bars and a representing brand set up stalls where bartenders presented the brand in a cocktail of their devising to the public for judging, decided by a single yellow token handed by the drinker to their favourite bar – being there for both days, the Hoodooist had the opportunity of handing a token to two separate bars, and this review will build from the least successful of 14 bars (rated: *), up to the two winning bars (rated: *****) of his opinion. You could scroll right down to the winners, or bask the in schadenfreude of the lowest rated bars.

Bars are judged on the choice and quality of their cocktail, presentation of both the drink and the décor of their stall, and any additional factors working in their favour.

So on with the disasters, rated: *.

The Breakfast Club bar, Call Me Mr. Lucky came in with a concoction called The Rocket Man, Casa Centinela Blanco Tequila, and get this, a different recipe at the stall than what’s on the handbook. This came with, from memory, lemon juice, lemon bitters, rocket, mint leaves and the most bizarre addition of crème de cacao. Which is probably what ruined the drink, a watered down tequila is all that came through, and ended up being the only drink of the festival that was not finished and just set aside.

The Rivington Grill’s Allez Islay is far less Islay than you think. The Botanist Gin, sugar, Port Charlotte, celery bitters with a *spray* of Bruichladdich (5 times fast!) ended up with something that really could have just been made easier with a glass of gin and a stick of celery. Bitter, straining, trying too hard, a mess of a drink that should not exist for its own sake.

Call Me Mr. Lucky's "Rocket Man"

Call Me Mr. Lucky’s “Rocket Man”

Rated **, make way for mediocrity.

Shaker & Company (Click HERE for their bar review!), working with D.O.M. Benedictine, presented a different drink from the handbook, a ‘misprint’. Which was a shame, since the handbook’s Orchard Fall, with cognac and apple juice would have probably worked better than the herbal Aperol/Benedictine drink presented.

The Alchemist was an odd one, good service, but ended up being more image than substance. The Loire Lady heats Chambord, Finlandia Grapefruit vodka, sweet+dry vermouth, citric acid dilution, Angostura bitters and gomme, then poured over dry ice in a conical glass, served on the rocks – was more of a spectacle than the purely raspberry drink that resulted. For a sweet tooth, this might work, but it felt imbalanced in flavour and could do without the gomme and perhaps the sweet vermouth. The ‘Mad Hatter Tea Party’ table addition seemed a bit too demanding when working with the alchemical presentation of the drink, it came off a bit desperate.

And here is one I still feel conflicted about: The Lucky Pig surprised with 3 G&T’s by Bombay Sapphire. Their Almond and Coriander G&T was an underdog drink with decent flavour, but no character. And after questionable service and the fact that was, well, a G&T, it fails to impress – an event like this should present the extent and push the reasonable limits of your bartenders’ imagination. And the presentation was depressing.


The Alchemist's "Loire Lady"

The Alchemist’s “Loire Lady”

Rated ***, the recommendations:

See the PortSide Parlour’s Daiquiri Belotta with El Dorada 5yr Rum, on their bar’s review HERE.

See the Powder Keg Diplomacy’s Henry Martini Rifle with Whitley Neill Gin, on their bar’s review HERE.

The Edition Hotel’s Punch Room presented us with their Teddy Hook Punch using Martini Gran Lusso – which was odd since perhaps they should have represented the less commonly known Ice Most Grappa, which has been developed to be smoother, and therefore more versatile for cocktails. In this case, the Gran Lusso and Grappa met Hibiscus tea, Basil water, lemon juice and sugar syrup to make a delightfully smooth, light punch, with a silky sweetness that did not tip into sickly like the Loire Lady, thanks to the subtlety of the Hibiscus’ sweetness.

The Hawksmoor Spitalfields Bar presented two drinks using Appleton Estate V/X rum. The first being the Afterlight, Appleton V/X + Appleton 12yr, Poire liqueur, cinnamon syrup and lime for a sweeter, light long drink. Not my style, but certainly successful in balance. Their second drink could deal with being shorter than it was, but was certainly prepared better on the first night than the second: the Butter Infused Rum Old Fashioned is exactly that, and on the first night was far less cloying with butter than the second, so loses points on the second night – but displayed excellence on the first.

Trailer Happiness' "Prime Minister"

Trailer Happiness’ “Prime Minister”

The following 5 bars are the ones I had to choose 2 winners from, they all succeeded in presented fantastic drinks worthy of winning, but the 2 winners had to excel on all fronts – and a little bit extra.

Rated at ****, runners up were:

Trailer Happiness, who doesn’t love a bit of them? Lamb’s Navy Rum, house tiki vermouth, Bergamot syrup and tea tincture made the Prime Minister, a take on the classic El Presidente. The distinct caramel of the rum needs it to be stirred throughout the drink to prevent it from settling to a cloying finish, but the Bergamot and tea acidity come through beautifully to a sophisticated cover of the classic.

The Rivoli Bar came in with their own little section boarded away from the public, presenting their Beluga vodka Caviar Martini every 15 minutes to 4 drinkers each session. A splash of house vermouth, homemade caviar tincture and celery salt certainly presented a smooth Martini with the distinct flavour of caviar and an accompaniment of caviar/thyme foam on a seaweed cracker. The drink and the bartenders reflected the quiet confidence of the Rivoli, and they excelled in their drink and technique – but the addition of the ‘sessions’, with the bouncer and assistant taking ‘reservations’ for 4 people at a time tipped their quiet confidence into arrogance; this was not a venue for this take on presentation or style of hospitality. Predictably, people were late to ‘reservations’, messing up the timing, and the session itself was just the bartenders explaining the ingredients of the drink (as at every other stall). Fantastic drink, bizarre and unsuitable presentation.

The Megaro Bar (Click HERE for the bar’s review!) presented us with a drink to make their menu from November 1st 2014, the Evans Angels, Evan Williams Extra Aged, Sauternes, D.O.M. Benedictine, Angostura bitters and green tea tincture. I adored the richness of their drink, which maintained a slight dryness which would have been emphasised with a bit more of the green tea tincture, which I would’ve appreciated. This came with apricot compote and foie gras canapé, and the Megaro’s signature cinema seating, simple and quintessentially Megaro (down the road!).

Rivoli Bar's "Caviar Martini"

Rivoli Bar’s “Caviar Martini”

Now, the winners on each night! Both bars presented not only drinks that excelled with their cocktails, but also in their presentation of the drink and stall, their service, and their additional something-something.

Rated *****, we have:

The Gilbert Scott (from across the street!) made an appearance with an odd little number called The Illusion. I shrugged off the silly Matrix pill reference to find an excellently concocted drink of spectacular originality and personality. Presentation of the stall was impeccable in the Gilbert Scott’s typical finery, with the strange ‘choice’ posed to customers (which the Hoodooist obviously sorted by having both, what I liked about this is that they were not two separate drinks, but the same drink that emphasised different flavour notes of the ingredients). The unique silky softness of the Martin Miller’s gin meets West Country ingredients like intense samphire, cinnamon, and cassia bark; lemon, sugar and then charged with CO2. The ‘Red’ variety of the cocktail focuses more on sweeter cinnamon, which pales in comparison to the ‘Blue’ variety, a clear winner with its focus on minerality and herbal flavour.

And our second winner, and probably the one I favour a bit more, is the Reverend JW Simpson with their Larder Batch: Four Roses Small Batch Bourbon, Pinot Noir and pink peppercorn reduction, cardamom bitters and angostura bitters; with a steak accompaniment. In terms of presentation, it stuck with the theme of the bar and the Four Roses bourbon, without turning into some kind of mish-mash like The Alchemist’s table. And the service was conversational, fun, and effervescent like the event itself, unlike the surgical coldness of the Rivoli stall. The accompaniment suited both the intense aspects of the drink, the bourbon, and Pinot Noir/pink peppercorn reduction – here the Reverend presents us with a steak dinner in a cocktail format and a nibble; the natural spiciness of the Four Roses Small Batch, and that of the peppercorn and cardamom suits the steak perfectly. The Reverend excelled on all fronts and more.

Reverend JW Simpson's "Larder Batch"

Reverend JW Simpson’s “Larder Batch”

And that’s a wrap! Cocktails in the City was an excellent amuse bouche to the carnivale of London Cocktail Week October 2014, and here we are, already salivating. God knows I can’t wait till CitC again next year.

Yelp’s Elite Endless Summer Garden Party

Quite a mouthful, no?
Yelp has an edge over competitors with it giving back to users in the form of its occasional parties, open to press and the most proficient Yelp users, called the Elite, for loyal participation. This year’s Endless Summer Garden Party was hosted at the recently opened Isis Education Centre at the Hyde Park LookOut, a former police observation point which is now an education centre where children learn about nature and wildlife.

Kooky Bakes!

Kooky Bakes!

Tuxes donned, the crowd traverses up to the LookOut where Yelp hosts stalls of the likes of the popular MeatLust brand serving up spicy beef sliders to Louisiana lamb chops, sharing the spot light with the travelling London market stall: Colonel Tom’s Gumbo.

Highlight in the gastronomy department was still Kooky Bake’s (popularly present at KERB events, click HERE for review of the KERB Ice Cream Adventure!) S’mores, going down fantastically with Biju Bubble Tea’s boba cha!


Biju Bubble Tea, now on Old Compton St!

Biju Bubble Tea, now on Old Compton St!

But when not stuffing your face, you could instead grab drinks prepared by Chambord raspberry liqueur’s sponsor, while playing croquet and overlooking the Serpentine, or giant Jenga – if not shopping for Mexican snacks and wares at La Tiendita (Who deliver!), or Ay Que Chula. That is, when not wandering round the myriad of ponds and look outs meandering through the thickets of trees decorated with shimmering mirrors. But the twilight beauty of the venue reminds us of the purpose of the Isis Education Centre as well, to provide students in a city, though one of the greenest cities in Europe, one so separated for nature, a place to develop their understanding of it, and further the preservation of the Royal Parks.


For information on becoming a Yelp Elite, see

The Royal Parks Foundation accept donations, for further information, see

GNH Bar, King’s Cross St. Pancras

Type of Bar: Hotel
Ideal for: Small Groups, Meetings


The Great Northern Hotel is home to three separate bars, two being intimate and snug, and then the more open, group oriented GNH Bar.

A few table oriented around the central bar under two enormous crystal chandeliers and a mirrored ceiling, the bar is certainly attractive, but also somehow repetitive in terms of style – a danger hotel bars across the city need to be careful of. We all know that ‘hotel bar’ look.

Service was generally attentive, but our first issue was asking about the ‘Afternoon Jaunt’ (a 2-for-1 cocktail deal for Saturdays 2PM-7PM), which they then told us was for a limited time only; until we pointed out it was still on their website. As of 14th Sept ‘14, their website still advertises their offer. But the good-natured staff decided to go ahead and offer the 2 for 1 anyway.

2014-08-30 16.57.13

The style of drinks is also distinctly ‘hotel’. We began with the Japanese Negroni, Nikka Japanese whisky with Aperol and Antica Formula is an interesting twist on the Negroni, but I must argue is more of an Italian twist on a Manhattan in terms of flavour. A relaxed drink that may not be a spectacle, but a decent drink nonetheless.

The following French Attitude was a bit stranger. Rhubarb infused cognac, lemon juice, gomme syrup, Crème de Cacao, Rhubarb bitters and topped with egg white ends up being a generally sweet, but otherwise flavourless muddle; probably by breaking my general 4-ingredient rule. This could probably make a better long drink.

Finally, the Old Chilli Monkey. I was really excited for this one. Oh my. Monkey Shoulder whiskey, home-made chilli and cinnamon syrup, Angostura and Rhubarb bitters. At first sip, two of us looked at each other thinking “Well, nice and spicy” until the burning started.
Mind you, we grew up on spice. But if after one sip your lips still feel that they’re hideously chapped with someone rubbing chilli powder into them for 10 minutes; YOU’VE GONE WRONG.
The drink could only be finished with a straw, even then, carefully.


Old Chilli Monkey (L); French Attitude (R)

Old Chilli Monkey (L); French Attitude (R)

The GNH Bar wants to appear experimental – except it is failing at it, I feel like classic cocktails it should stick to. The halfway decent Japanese Negroni is somewhat reliable with its almost classic quality; but the following drinks were a mess.  Imbalanced, and made with almost an amateurish excitement – paired with the initial advertising debacle, I can’t see myself returning to the GNH Bar soon, but look forward to the other bars and restaurants the hotel has to offer.

Drinks: ** (Ought to get * for value for money, but the Japanese Negroni favours)
Atmosphere: ***
Service: ***



Great Northern Hotel,
Pancras Road,
London N1C 4TB

Mission, Bethnal Green

Type of Bar: Wine Bar, Bar/Restaurant, Italian
Damage: Cocktails –£, Wine per glass: £-££
Ideal for: Wine, Food, Small Groups

Wine legends of Sager+Wilde are back with a new venture, Mission, presenting primarily Californian wine (by the glass, bottles from round the world) alongside (primarily) Italian cuisine.

Décor is simple, efficient, and fairly sparse – with the beautiful bar dominating the scene (although the palm tree, though channelling California, could be done without), and an excellent outdoor area.

Three Sip Martini

Three Sip Martini

To the important bits: Mission may primarily serve wine, but there is a short selection of (primarily aperitifs) classic cocktails at a shocking 4 pound 50. Though short, said cocktails were of spectacular quality that are difficult to rival. A Three Sip Martini, exactly what it sounds like, caught me by surprise since I certainly wasn’t expecting one made so well – considering what a snob I tend to be with them. Especially with Tanqueray, which isn’t usually my first choice.  The Rum Old Fashioned came enviably delicious, simple and effective, the highlight of the night’s drinks. A definite order.

Enormous Globe Artichoke and ‘Nduja Arancini put away, a fantastically crisp, peppery Californian Gruner Veltliner, and an Italian red blend entertained a main course of rabbit leg cooked to perfection with polenta, pancetta and girolles. The evening ends with a rather short list of desserts – but I couldn’t complain about the Dulce de Leche cheesecake with Master Obayashi’s Hijiri Hojicha – a roasted Okinawan tea, strongly tobacco and toffee – necessary to help with the overwhelming sweetness of the cake. Not to mention these guys certainly aren’t stiffing you on portion size.

Dulce de Leche cheesecake, with Hijiri Hojicha

Dulce de Leche cheesecake, with Hijiri Hojicha

Service was impeccably polite from beginning to finish, food and drink served with incredible swiftness. Unfortunately, on the more than one occasion the Hoodooist has visited, there have been errors on the bill and delays or confusions with orders. Nonetheless, it all gets sorted out, and certainly does not dilute the experience of wonderful food and drink.

Essentially, with cocktails – there often isn’t much one can add to elaborating on classics, but the delightfully dry gin Martini and rounded Rum Old Fashioned are worth coming down to Mission almost exclusively for – and what value for money! A cocktail, wine and tea for 15 pounds, I’m certainly not complaining.

Mission runs a soft launch till 14th Sept 2014(reservations only); opening on the 15th Sept.

Drinks: ****
Atmosphere: ***
Service: ** – ***



250 Paradise Row,
London E2 9LE

Basement Sate, Soho

Type of Bar: Basement, Dessert Bar
Damage: ££ – ££££
Ideal for: Desserts, Date, Small Groups


The major positive about Basement Sate showing up in Soho? They got rid of The Player.
You know, the lot where servers didn’t know the difference between a Margarita and a Daiquiri.

ANYWAY, yes, the basement space has been repurposed with 60s Chesterfield sexiness. With that enormous bar and benches in the back, I could honestly see a studio apartment here I’d love to move into. There isn’t much to say about the décor, since there isn’t much, but I do like the openness of the space – which leads me to: though I like the design, the open space and low tables make eating the desserts the bar prides itself on a bit inconvenient, but not much so – it just seems counter-productive at first glance.

Service-wise, fantastic. Servers were attentive, our bartender wonderful, no complaints here.  Besides one odd comment from a server about “This drink is heavy, you might not like it.”
Which was odd, but we ignored it.

L'Entree Des Artistes (L); El Pampa (R)

L’Entree Des Artistes (L); El Pampa (R)


Regarding drinks, our first was the El Pampa, a citrusy concoction of Pisco, almond and champagne syrup, and Granny Smith juice. Unfortunately, the dominating flavour was the Granny Smith, with a hint of the pisco in the back. The drink needed some kind of umph at risk of becoming a spirit+mixer. That umph in a way comes as the intense aniseed on the nose from the star anise, but that is about all. It’s not a bad drink, but it can do a bit better – especially at 12 quid.

As for the L’Entrée Des Artistes: coffee infused rum, sherry, salted caramel and milkt. Friend loved it, personally not my style of drink, but as far as dessert cocktails go, this was pretty decent (and I rarely say that outside Volupte’s dessert cocktails). If I had to have my way though, I would go a bit more in the salted caramel direction and lose one of the others. But for fans of the sweet cocktail, this is it.

Opinions on desserts were split: the Vacherin was a winner with lime meringue, basil cream, strawberry sorbet, cranberry and orange coulis. Tart, surprising, pairing well with the El Pampa. On the other hand, the Raviole – cocoa ravioli, raspberry ginger cream (instead presented as filo flutes), cassis chocolate truffle with gin and citrus gel – was a little less successful compared to the Vacherin, appearing rather doughy. I do wish I went for the Mille Feuille Fromage and Truffle instead.


The Vacherin

The Vacherin

My ambivalence regarding Basement Sate is making it difficult to make a decision here. The drinks, whereas not terrible, I wouldn’t pay the prices for. 8 to 10 pounds? Sure. 10 to 14? Not so much. This impacted my strictness in judging the most.

Two suggestions I could make are: First, pairing the drinks with desserts instead. Second, a tasting menu of the food and drink would be something I would enjoy bringing friends to try out. I can see myself returning for a tasting menu (take a page out of The Pudding Bar’s book here, guys).

Drinks: ** (based on value for money)
Atmosphere: ****
Service: ****

Basement Sate

8 Broadwick Street
London W1F 8HN

69 Colebrooke Row, Islington

Type of Bar: Tiny
Damage: ££
Ideal for: Small Groups, Live Music

More officially, “The Bar With No Name”, is another masterpiece by Tony Conigliaro of The Zetter Townhouse Cocktail Lounge (Click HERE for review!). Followers might know that I’m already a major fan of Tony C’s work, whose style is always original, without being over the top, usually short and intense, and always impressive. 69 itself isn’t ‘hidden away’ like The Zetter Townhouse, but is certainly out of the way, but you can’t miss the little lantern and wrought iron gateway that marks it.

Let’s get down to biz: the venue itself is miniscule, if not cramped. The crowd is nonetheless presentable and polite, even though you’re plastered next to them. The large opened windows help, certainly. The 1940s pour in through the speakers as incredibly attentive servers hover in the small space. Considering the quality of the drinks, I’m half tempted to give a bit of leeway here, but it certainly isn’t a venue one could spend too long in (besides that rotation for a table is 90 minutes).

Port Habana

Port Habana

On a positive note, though; drinks wowed. The Soy Cubano bursts onto the scene with its Soy Pedro Ximinez and Havana 7yr, intensely sweet, almost sickly, with vanilla and woody notes, before being tempered by the musky ambrette, giving way to the simmering Rooibos bitters in the background. Though incredibly intense, an excellent and (thankfully) short drink, which is almost reminiscent of NOLA’s Slightly Sinister (Click HERE for review!) on steroids. The drier cousin of this drink appears as the Port Habana, Havana 3 yr, White Port reduction and Grape Honey – the intensity of the grape honey on the nose is unmistakable, reflecting the honeyed flavours of the Havana 3yr. The white port reduction initially takes centre stage before the honey comes in full force and blindsides you, readying you for a distant wash of fruitiness.

The Aerial was certainly unique. The Hoodooist certainly struggled trying to get this one, short, incredibly so, yet the strongest of the lot. Perfumey, almost risking it to a fault, the distilled bergamot is the primary flavour and scent, tempered by the ambrette and dried lemon. The Aerial is one of those drinks that must be made absolutely perfectly, or else it falls apart. Risky, ludicrous, and wonderful.

Finally, the star of the night: the meeting of Bacchanology, gastronomy and hangover cures that was the Prairie Oyster. Before you get turned off by the name, the Prairie Oyster is essentially a deconstructed Bloody Mary of horseradish vodka, Oloroso cherry, shallots, pepper sauce compacted into a ‘tomato yolk’, dusted with celery salt and micro herbs. Served like an oyster, one downs the ‘shot’ which climaxes in an explosion of hangover curing flavour.
I swear that was not meant to sound as erotic as it did.

Prairie Oysters

Prairie Oysters

The drinks list being seasonal leaves much space for experimentation every month, which is fantastic since this is a venue I can see myself returning to time and time again.

Drinks: *****
Atmosphere: **
Service: ****

The Bar With No Name

69 Colebrooke Row,
London N1 8AA