London Cocktail Week ’14, Day FOUR: Angels Unawares

Welcome back to the recap of the fourth 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 9th: Where the Hoodooist and friends tackle Clerkenwell and Farringdon. The theme seems to be the importance of service, where fantastic service and come venues clashes with terrible service at others.

Buffalo Trace Bourbon's Pickle Jar event

Buffalo Trace Bourbon’s Pickle Jar event

6.30PM: The Well’s basement, Pickle Jar, is busy as all hell. The PR company sure did know what they were doing when they handled the Buffalo Trace event here, but hell, Buffalo Trace always does do the best LCW pop ups, so it’s bound to be busy.

You know when you know you’re at the best place? Yup, that feeling right there. We started off with a Rosemary Sazerac. Buffalo Trace, rosemary gomme, atomised absinthe that is sprayed over the drink. THIS SOLVES IT. The problem that so many bartenders have with washing a glass with absinthe when making a Sazerac, this solves it, preventing from there being too much or too little. The absinthe still comes through, mainly through smell. The Buffalo Trace with its smoothness and light flavour of the rosemary. A beautiful drink.

The Maraschino Manhattan is equally brilliant. Though it uses a notoriously sweet vermouth – Antica Formula – the Manhattan still manages to be served Perfect instead of Sweet. Success.

We ended with a trio of Picklebacks – first with pickled gherkin juice, then beetroot, then cucumber.

Cucumber was out least favourite; gherkin the most familiar; and finally beetroot being surprisingly pleasant, and in fact – wonderful. I look forward to finding a way to do this again! Time to start pickling beets. All in all – Buffalo Trace really succeeded in organising this event, with a wonderful bartended from the Cadogan Arms. A fabulous piece of work.

Pickle Jar's 'Maraschino Manhattan'

Pickle Jar’s ‘Maraschino Manhattan’

8PM: I honestly wish I stayed at the Pickle Jar. Why? Because I made the unfortunate decision of stopping by the Bistrot Bruno Loubet.

Serving up ‘The Fallen’ meant to be somehow reminiscent of Biblical fallen angels (yeah, I know.), Martell VSOP and St. Germain is primarily orange citrus, followed by a slight ginger – ending with elderflower in the background. The mediocre drink aside, this happened:

Anastrophe&Cheese: “We’ll have a second for him, as well.”
The Hoodooist (immediately): “No, I’m fine, thanks, cancel that!”
5 minutes later;
Server: “Hi, yes here is your drink. I already made it, and I can’t keep it aside since it will lose the flavour, so you have to have it. Or you have to pay for it anyway.”
The Hoodooist: “But we asked to cancel it as soon as it was mentioned.”
Server: “Well, I already made it in that time.”
Anastrophe&Cheese: “We literally cancelled it instantly.”
Server: “Well, nothing I can do.” *shrugs indignantly and leaves*

NOTE: BBL invited us back with an apology for the service, and a full review can be found HERE

8.30PM: We entered St. Bart’s Brewery for a minute, where a drink was served when all we asked for were the ingredients to their Kentish Stinger (Cider brandy, Pinot Noir, sugar). Nonetheless, the bartender apologised and didn’t mind taking it away when our faces betrayed our opinions. One could have a sherbet or a Tokaji instead of this, really, if it is your thing. Incredibly sweet and should be served short, in personal opinion. But a fantastic display of good service, in comparison to the Bistrot Bruno Loubet incident.

COLD's 'Cristal Clear Martinez'

COLD’s ‘Cristal Clear Martinez’

9PM: City of London Distillery (C.O.L.D.) is a comfy, dark, leather becouched basement venue at Fleet Street that distills its own citrusy (primarily pink grapefruit) gin, with a gin institute as well.

Serving up a ‘Cristal Clear Martinez’, Cocchi Americano, City of London Dry Gin, Luxardo Maraschino, dash of Regans Orange Bitters, maraschino cherry garnish dropped in. This is excellent, but also very sweet, even in comparison to most Martinez’. The orange bitters really does come through with the grapefruit of the CoL gin; combatting with the thick sweetness of the Cocchi Americano and Luxardo Maraschino. Further down the drink, the cherry gets a chance to release its sugars into the drink for further sweetness. Somehow still a wonderful drink regardless of its intense sugariness.

This paired with the incredibly knowledgeable and polite servers who are genuinely concerned about you and your drink is highlighted by the horrible service at BBL earlier. Servers here at COLD are wonderful. We went on to have more drinks and samples which I will cover in a full review next week or so.

Midnight: The Hoodooist is typing this up and contemplating how perhaps the hospitality of a venue might trump everything else about it. Feeling at home is what makes a bar what it is (Click to see Hospitality Rant HERE), and not living up to that ruins what you stand for. And it isn’t about being a reviewer; it’s about being a customer, and indeed a guest. Anyone of you bartenders and servers could be entertaining angels unawares.
Alright! That’s our recap of Day Four 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!

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3 comments on “London Cocktail Week ’14, Day FOUR: Angels Unawares

  1. […] up of the evening goes to Buffalo Trace Bourbon and their excellent Pickle Jar event in the basement of The Well, Clerkenwell. Presenting the painfully smooth Rosemary Sazerac to […]

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  2. […] the Hoodooist and friends a round after the London Cocktail Week debacle couple of weeks ago (Click HERE for recap) – except this time, service was blameless. Our *new* server was polite and had none of the […]

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  3. […] ‘caves’), the Hoodooist was pleased to find a bartender whose drinks he greatly enjoyed at the Pickle Jar launch in London Cocktail Week ’14 (Click HERE for article!) dishing out the drinks. And just as the last time, service was impeccable, friendly and […]

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