Welcome back to the recap of the third day of London Cocktail Week 2014! Wield a red or white wristband and enjoy the discounts/events that LCW has to offer!
This year the Hoodooist will be bringing you #YourDailyDoseOfHoodoo, a daily review of each day of London Cocktail Week ’14.
Today we look at October 8th: Where the Hoodooist and friends tackle Shoreditch. The appearance of a dear friend who has returned from a far off land left the Hoodooist bit distracted and he forgot to take many pictures. Soz.
5.30PM: Who can turn down a French Rib at the Hawksmoor Spitalfields bar? I’ve rated HS pretty well at their performance at the Cocktails in the City 2014 (Click HERE for review!) for their Full Fat Old Fashioned, and Afterlight, and I’ll take their Dandy any day of the week; but the ambitious Big Macquiri may be a bit too ambitious. Kept fairly mysterious in the LCW14 literature, it turns out that the drink meant to be ‘reminiscent’ of a certain burger we all know was a mix of Havana 5yr rum, Fernet, Cynar, and Dill syrup.
I guess, if you take the actual meat out of a Big Mac, you’d get something similar? Perhaps they should have worked on this with Peg + Patriot (Click HERE for review) for a beef reduction of some sort. In any case, we got a drink that brought up both extremes of sweet and bitter – initially the hint of dill, which intensified halfway through the drink. After the initial dill, the sweeter Cynar, eventually ending with the herbal Fernet hitting the soft palette with a bang. I can certainly imagine somebody really enjoying this drink, but that person isn’t me – it’s a very specific flavour.
This doesn’t alter my generally very positive opinion of Hawksmoor Spitalfields though.
6.30PM: We’re standing in the rain. See, Angostura’s press event for the Butterfly House is a large space, but us early birds (by which I mean, its 4 minutes after the arrival time) are standing outside in the rain. My opinion of this event is already dwindling.
Once in, I have to admit, the actual exhibit is wonderful – Luke Brown the Butterfly Bloke did an amazing job; and it was an honour to have the Master Distiller in the house. Unfortunately, I can’t say the same for the drinks. Bartenders seemed a bit scattered – but it was humid as all hell, to be fair. Beginning with 2 drinks, The Owl Butterfly: Angostura rum, Monin Passionfruit syrup, sugarcane sugar syrup; and the Heliconius Dream: Angostura rum, Antica Formula red vermouth, Campari, whole egg, nutmeg dusted.
The Owl Butterfly was what it was, passionfruit and rum. The Heliconius Dream was a much more wintery drink, but I honestly couldn’t find myself enjoying it – initial honey sweetness from the rum clashes with the fruity sweetness of the Antica, blows straight into this bitter Campari. A few sips in I had to find a place to put this aside.
And hey, one can’t go wrong with a Daiquiri, right? Well, apparently you can.
7.30PM: Casita! We heart Casita, we all know this (Click HERE for review). Will Foster was a gem as usual, and as one of my favourite bars in town, and always a must visit in Shoreditch for me – we had a list of drinks to go through for the Hidden Ibiza – Gin Mare pop up. Instead, I went for a twist on the Casita signature El Fenix – Ocho Tequila (yum), lime, ting, grapefruit, agave, chilli. I have had the El Fenix before at Casita’s 8th Birthday (Click HERE for Casita’s 8th Birthday event article) and enjoyed it immensely – but it was really missing something tonight. To be fair, bartenders were guest bartenders tonight, so I can forgive it being a rookie situation – the chilli and agave flavours initially were lovely, but the following taste (of newspaper?) was a bit less enjoyable. Nonetheless, Casita’s legendary atmosphere and excellent service made for a fun visit.
8.30PM: NOLA. I swear, how do I keep finding myself here? Okay, I love NOLA as seen in my previous review (Click HERE), but what was with service today? NOLA’s LCW14 offering is a daily war between two bartenders in a specific spirit, and tonight (keeping in with today’s theme), was El Dorado 5yr rum. NOLA’s local bartender vs… Well, according to our server, the legendary Tiki master Jeff Beachbum Berry. Except it was not Jeff Berry, it was the lovely Chris Dennis of Trailer Happiness. The server insisted I was incorrect. Now, I love Chris Dennis’ work enough to recognise the man when I see him. And greet him. So this was odd.
Anyway, the said drink was a mix of El Dorado 5yr rum, tepache spiced pineapple spirit, coffee liqueur and you must be wondering why I’m stumped on the ingredients and brands. That’s because our second server, this young fellow I haven’t seen before, seemed insistent on this conversation:
“Hi, could I have a look at the menu again please?”
“Is it about the LCW drink?”
“Yeah, I need to have a look at the ingredients again.”
“Oh, it’s rum, tepache and coffee liqueur.”
“Okay, can I see the menu?”
“Oh no, that’s it in the drink.”
So yeah. I apologise I can’t give a decent review of this drink, but service was a disaster from entrance to exit, and honestly, NOLA as a fantastic bar, needs to vet its employees a bit more. In any case, Chris Dennis won this cocktail battle hands down, with a stronger focus on the coffee liqueur working well with the caramel and woody spice of the El Dorado 5yr, with the tepache playing a more background role. A very good drink, but best served short.
Honestly, I think about the spectacular service at Cecil’s the night before, and this just downright offends me. (Click HERE for a look at Cecil’s the night before!)
9.30PM: 184 Hackney Road – once called QuiQuiRiQui, the legendary Mezcaleria speakeasy is the first place to do ‘speakeasy’ right. Literally just a tiny room under a kebab shop, with a massive collection of mezcal, 184 presented us with a Mezcal Margarita, QuiQuiRiQui smoky mezcal, hibiscus and cardamom syrup, lime juice and agave nectar. Probably the best drink of the night, simplicity won out in the end. The mezcal is the dominating flavour, beginning with the momentary agave sweetness to the deep smokiness, but quickly resting on the hibiscus, with a slight hint of cardamom in the distance. Short, simple, exquisite.
Midnight: the Hoodooist is typing this article and ponders why bars he normally loves have faltered today, and realises: a lot of it is in taking major risks. Hawksmoor took a huge risk with an ambitious drink, but are still a strong bar. Casita risked with guest bartenders (though I think the regulars joined in later), and though are a fabulous bar, did not get the best ‘tenders at that hour. NOLA risked it all with frankly, deplorable service – though the bartenders were strong.
Alright! That’s our recap of Day Three of London Cocktail Week 2014! I do hope it may have helped you one way or the other, dear companions, on our quest through the most magical week of the year. May the LCW shackles on your wrists take you to fantastical vistas through this glorious city.
Come back tomorrow for our NEXT RECAP of LCW ’14, and #YourDailyDoseOfHoodoo!