Welcome back to the recap of the fifth 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 10th: Where the Hoodooist and friends tackle Soho (Well, Soho-ish) .
Day Five and it’s starting to show. The bodily effects of LCW14 are coming in all their baggy eyed, dry skin’d glory. But there ain’t no rest for the wicked, till this is done and dusted for good.
So it may be a blessing in disguise when at 1.30PM: The Blind Pig at the Social Eating House couldn’t get their work in order for their cocktail, Gin Quininey, Gin Quininey, Gin Gin Yuzu. “Our ingredients finished last night, we can’t make the drink till 4PM tonight.”
Here are reasons why this is silly: Some of us are making our way to you with schedules with slots that you fit in to. Do what you promise, or don’t do anything at all.
Secondly, OVERSTOCK. A Gareth Evans joint changes its menu like every five minutes. Even if your cup runneth over and you have too many ingredients – keep serving it up after LCW is over as a limited edition drink.
Thirdly, if you couldn’t organise the above because forward-thinking isn’t one’s forte, offer another drink as an option. Or hell, maybe choose a regular drink from your menu instead of one with ingredients that might be hard to come by.
A shame since I rather enjoy the Blind Pig as a bar, as I do most of Evans’ bars.
4PM: Lunch done, and the Hoodooist already has a gelato stain on his shirt. But Amorino gelato stains are scars to be proud of. Mmm.
We find ourselves at the Carom at Meza, serving up a ‘Kill Jim’, El Jimador tequila swizzle with chilli, Mozart chocolate liqueur, Velvet Falernum and Navy Strength rum. The sweeter rum flows into the tequila before an explosion of chilli – with the chocolate playing in the background. As you’d guess, it gets spicier the longer you take to drink. The drink seems a bit overthought for me and not my thing, but was a hit with couple of friends at the table with taste for sweeter, longer drinks.
5PM: Opium Cocktail & Dim Sum Parlour (Click HERE for review!), who are serving ‘Down to the Baijiu’ according to the LCW14 literature; Baijiu, Oolong tea infused vodka, fresh lemon and pomegranate juice, almond syrup. Although our server also mentioned the ingredients chilli-infused tequila, and orgeat (instead of almond syrup, I suspect), and didn’t mention pomegranate.
So running by palette, the Baijiu was unmistakable and the opener to the drink, followed by a citrus and almond sweetness I believe is the orgeat. The oolong followed immediately behind, ending on the tequila. This incredibly sweet, but not sickly so, was pleasant and nagged me with a sense of nostalgia until somebody finally yelled “STRAWBERRY LACES!”, which is essentially what it tastes like – scarily similar. I would love this as a dessert drink, with its light mouthfeel and short serving.
6PM: Soho’s vermouth bar, Mele e Pere, presented a twist on their own drink – the Veneton Mess – with the ‘Veneton Mess Revisited’; homemade white vermouth, strawberry vermouth, and ginseng liqueur with a dash of lemonade. I love this. What I enjoyed here was the drink being both slightly dry with the white vermouth, yet having the richer mouthfeel of the red. First, the intense strawberry vermouth, followed by the warm citrus notes of the white, with the lemonade aftertaste. As usual in cocktails with strong flavours, the ginseng hides in the background (which is strange considering its intensity when drunk straight) but helps round the drink out. Made a wonderful aperitif.
7PM: The aperitif done, we found ourselves craving beef tartare at the dark, subterranean MASH. Presenting one of their own drinks, the Woody Woodpecker was walnut infused Buffalo Trace bourbon, maple syrup, peach juice and Angostura bitters. The smooth Buffalo Trace comes in first as you’d imagine, playing lightly with the maple syrup. The peach makes a short-lived appearance, and the aftertaste of warm walnut envelopes. A hit across the table, this drink is highly recommended. The only catch to it is having to drink it quickly, since the diluting ice really does steal many of the flavours if left to melt.
Food was spectacular, service was absolutely impeccable. Clientele incredibly dressed. It’s almost like an American extension of Zedel’s Bar Americain couple of doors down (Click HERE for a review of Bar Americain!)
8PM: 10 minute walk brings us to Benares at Berkeley Square, serving up a Mumbai Martini; vodka muddled over curry leaves, fresh root ginger, lemon juice and sugar syrup. Okay. This was something that, with a couple of changes, can be a very intriguing drink.
At first, there is this absolute slam of curry leaves followed by a powerful lemon, ginger simmering, then suddenly going back to lemon. It runs a risk of tipping between ‘alright’ and ‘unpleasant’. Halfway through the drink, the curry leaves and ginger vanish, leaving sweet lemon vodka behind. At this point, it’s all out unpleasant.
I suspect leaving out the sugar, changing the citrus (Yuzu? As a light spray, not as a juice. But if it demands juice after trial and error, minimal), and infusing the vodka lightly with curry leaves, then muddling with a hint of ginger could change this drink into something wonderful.
In other news, service was confused, the bartender had a better idea of who we were and when we wanted the bill from miles away while three servers were busy running into each other being confused. Or acting it. Whichever. It was more of a fun bobble-head boxing contest.
Midnight: Is there a theme to today? Well, besides all the awesome puns. Maybe there is a moral to the story, but not in the bars. The Hoodooist made it home obscenely early at 9.15PM when he realised that the concept of another drink was almost unthinkable. Five days in a row of LCW meant a full night’s sleep is something necessary.
Ain’t no rest for the wicked.
Alright! That’s our recap of Day Five 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.
#YourDailyDoseOfHoodoo is almost at an end! Be prepared for our LCW14 finale article coming up this weekend!