Tequila Fest Weekend 2014!

The much-awaited weekend finally showed up! Let me mention though, that a 5 day birthday bender is not a good way to prep yourself for this fest – but hey, I got a job to do.

We have an article about the Tequila Fest Press Preview a few weeks ago (Click HERE for Review!), where we covered a good list of tequilas and mezcals that caught our attention (Oh, that Ambar Extra Anejo *sigh*), so today we’ll post a few pics of tequilas and mezcals that were not covered in the previous article!

For one, this massive fest brought a whole new selection of spirits under the same roof, alongside cocktail and food stands, specialty Mexican cheeses and sauces, and of course, London’s La TienditaAy Que Chula! – your source of Mexican candies, randomness and accessories (We’ve met them at the Yelp! Elite Endless Summer Garden Party, Review HERE!). And don’t forget the extensive masterclasses and pairing sessions. And luchadors. Certainly don’t forget the luchadors.

So bring on the snaps! Remember, this is a no salt and lime zone.

TeqFest

 

Cocktails

 

On the left, we have The Lost Steps from the Megaro Bar (Click HERE for Review!)The Lost Steps (Ocho Blanco, cardamom sweet tea, Chartreuse elixir)  is a tequila fan’s dream; the nose is strongly citrus, and since I last tried it at the bar, this creation had a more intense cardamom flavour. The tea allows the notes of the tequila to unfold in a manner to savour the tequila’s various layers, smoothly and pleasantly.

On the right, the Metaxa: Tequila meets white armagnac and Bittermen’s Orange. Surprisingly smooth, the tequila’s edge is dulled for a relaxed drinking experience. The aftertaste of Bittermen’s Orange seemed to be enjoyable to some, but not others. Personally, greatly enjoyed it.

Herradura

 

Herradura, the classic horse-shoe logo, presenting one of the most charismatic blanco tequilas present – the Herradura Plata. A long-rested blanco (45 days), brings out the agave, making an excellent sipping blanco.

Sierra

 

Ah, Sierra. Responsible for the worst hangovers of your sixth-form years. I wasn’t sure what to expect here, but was pleasantly surprised – the Sierra Milenario Extra Anejo was actually a rather decent tequila, priced incredibly well around the 50 pound range for an Extra Anejo. Most notable was a milk chocolate smoothness, you could actually spend quite a while sipping this. As phrased by its representative, Sierra is kind of a victim of its own success, or/subtext, “We also actually make rather good tequilas,”. I do hope it is products like this that highlight Sierra more than sticky-floor-mini-sombrero association many initially think of.

Grillos

 

A young company here in the UK, Grillos could use the attention to get a chance to import their Anejos. Their Reposados were a bit sharp, but delightfully woody. I can sense a rather good Anejo in here somewhere.

Honourable mentions in Tequilas would be Arrette’s Anejo, with its pronounced violet flavours.

Onto the Mezcals!

Qui

 

Course, we can’t talk about mezcals without mentioning one of the most popular ones on the UK market, QuiQuiRiQui, named after the previous name of 184 Hackney Road, who you MUST check out for their Mezcalitas!

San Cosme

 

San Cosme is easily surging to the top of my favourite mezcals. Smooth as the devil, a fantastic introductory mezcal to initiates. I’m keeping an eye on this up and coming company.

Bruxo

 

Okay, Bruxo. These guys are exciting – presenting 5 different mezcals, each made with different – or a different combo of – agaves, creating a wonderful choice of mezcals, and great tasting flights for your cabinet. I noticed one of them being reminiscent of the rarely seen out of Mexico Fortaleza Tequila, only to find that the parent company is responsible for Fortaleza as well! Fantastic job. (For more on Fortaleza, click HERE).

 

And those are the tequilas and mezcals I haven’t covered before, but stood out on the incredible weekend that was Tequila Fest!

And if you had any sense about you, you’d keep an eye out for the next incarnation of the festival in the future.
¡ Salud !

http://www.tequilafest.co.uk/

 

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Floridita Ski Chalet pop-up, Soho

Type of Bar: Pop up, Winter, Tiny
Damage££
Ideal for: Date, Food, Hot Chocolate

 

Alright, first things first, this isn’t a review of Floridita the bar, but of the ‘Ski Chalet’ pop up they have opened at the bar. With its own menu, the chalet presents a very different variety of drinks from the bar.

Floridita Rum Chalet (2)

Alright, rum. It’s in all the drinks on this menu – 6 drinks, one of which is a sharer between two.

Let’s start with the best.

This can’t *really* be called a ‘cocktail’ as such, but is enough of a reason to visit: the Ski Break presents rich, dark hot chocolate, with Plantation 5yr and cinnamon. Warm, slightly spicy, slightly bitter, slightly sweet, all indulgent. A very short drink in a teacup – but that’s all you need, this is a very heavy drink.

The other at the top of the list would be After the Storm, a mixture that is essentially mulled wine and rum: Red wine, Element 8 spiced rum, heated with citrus infused agave, mandarin Napoleon, raspberry liqueur and Wray & Nephew overproof rum. Skipping the effort of actually mulling the wine and instead heating it up with liqueurs, a heavily alcoholic drink served with a rim of brown sugar and cinnamon is presented. An excellent winter warmer.

 

After The Storm

After The Storm

A little further down, the White Ice: Brugal Anejo rum, Araku coffee liqueur, Grand Marnier, double cream. Wise to not go for the obvious Kahlua, the Araku makes the drink. Nostalgic, the nose is shockingly similar to the orange chocolate in a box of Macintosh! As far as White Russians go, this doesn’t stand out as much as ‘it is a White Russian’ – the Grand Marnier seems to be more effective on the nose than in flavour – but if a White Russian’s your thing, this is an obvious choice.

 

Finally, the Adam’s Apple: Appleton (geddit) V/X rum, heated with apple cider, apple liquor, sugar and apple juice. I’m sorry to say that this drink just doesn’t work. Especially at it being the most expensive on the menu, it is one that can be easily avoided. With excellent drinks like the Ski Break and After the Storm, it is best skipped. Its attempt to adhere to the apple theme was not thought out well enough.

The Ski Break

The Ski Break

Décor-wise, there isn’t much to be said, it is a sectioned off area with a few ski chalet paraphernalia like furred rugs, etc. Its seclusion from the rest of Floridita is appreciated, but not much to rave about. Considering it is under the staircase, I do wish they gave the underside a new paintjob.

Service was impeccable, on the spot, and very attentive, with Patagonian tapas constantly making its way to the table. On that note, fabulous tapas.

 

In short, the Ski Chalet is a great spot to pop by on an evening if you happen to be in the area, if only for the Ski Break hot chocolate. Simple but satisfying drinks, and excellent tapas. Pop by.

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

 

Floridita Ski Chalet,

100 Wardour Street,
London W1F 0TN

http://www.floriditalondon.com/

Happiness Forgets, Shoreditch

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

 

Hoxton Square is home to a few bars, but none with the reputation of Happiness Forgets. A Shoreditch institution, Pegu Club trained Alastair Burgess rallied up a few spectacular bartenders for the venue.

Happiness-Forgets-6

The opening sentence pretty much tells you I enjoy the cocktails here, and have popped by over the years – the menu is seasonal and alters a bit. So let’s have a look at a classic first: can’t go wrong with a Buffalo Trace Old Fashioned. Smooth, silky, just a little bit of kick, gorgeous.

The Jerezana catches my eye; Manzanilla & Amontillado, sweet & dry vermouths, dash of vanilla and orange bitters. The sherries are the first to assault you, with the light chamomile of the Manzanilla, followed by the wonderfully contrasting dry and sweet vermouths – the scrape of the former, and rounded mouthfeel of the latter. Finally, the vanilla does just the trick to add that little something to round out the drink. The drink is ambitious, but works incredibly well.

The Alter Ego; St. Germain elderflower liqueur, Vulson white rye, dry sherry and Angostura is almost a dry cousin of the Jerezana. You tumble through the flavours of this drink as the open up surprisingly quickly. The spicy fruitiness of the white rye clashes comfortably with the elderflower to settle on the sherry. The drink is almost unsettling, yet addictive – with the perfect name.

Happiness ForgetsCocktail_05-580x386

As much as I love the menu and staff, I find the atmosphere a bit claustrophobic – seats near the exit are the most comfortable with access to fresh air. Dark, loud and surprisingly warm, it can be fun on quieter evenings. On quieter evenings though (hardly ever, mind you), there is plenty seating at the bar for chats. On that note, booking is absolutely necessary, especially if there are more than two of you. I’ve always noticed the strange mix of clientele – it’s like nearby Shoreditch, Liverpool St. and Old St. all fit themselves in.

Service is excellent, polite, and fun – can’t fault it. But one has to account for crowded evenings, too.

 

In summary, the mercurial menu means that one can only comment on the staff’s ability to come up with original cocktails that work and their finesse – which is fantastic. Classics are knocked out wonderfully, too. Happiness Forgets is crowded with good reason.

Drinks: ****
Atmosphere: ** – ***
(Certainly up to taste)
Service: ***

 

Happiness Forgets

8-9 Hoxton Square,
London N1 6NU

http://www.happinessforgets.com/

Dishoom & Permit Room, King’s Cross St. Pancras

Type of Bar: Bar/Restaurant, Indian
Damage: £-££
Ideal for: Food, Small Groups, Large Groups, After Work, Spiced Cocktails

Boy, is this place massive. 9000 square feet makes this the largest Dishoom in town! But trust that it gets packed fast. Décor is incredibly detailed, and somehow intense, considering how it’s not jam packed with decoration. Bollywood tunes from the 80s and 90s make this a fun, upbeat venue.

Serving up Indian, and subcontinental twists on classic cocktails, the cocktail menu in the Dishoom restaurant above differs from the Permit Room bar below.  This review might be a bit longer than usual for the uniqueness of the cocktails on offer.

 

Above at Dishoom, the cocktail list is short, simple and not particularly eye-catching.

The Naughty Chocolate Chai is a fun little indulgence, dark chocolate, chai and a splash of bourbon – and with friends living round the corner, our new coffee date spot.

The Chaijito – a mojito with added coriander, ginger, and sweet-spice chai – essentially comes down to being a mellow mojito. Bit of a blank, this one. Not a fan.

Downstairs at the Permit Room, the whole list of cocktails is available, and it this time, it certainly stands out. 7 of the cocktails down here are served by the Indian measure of pegs – ‘chota’ (small) pegs for 8 pounds, and ‘burra’ (large) pegs for 15.

The IPA Paanch, hop-infused gin (inspired by the IPA), lime, jaggery unseparated cane or palm sugar, English Breakfast tea and assorted spices – now this packs a punch! Okay, that pun wasn’t intended. The name for the drink punch comes from the Hindi word ‘paanch’ for ‘five’, as in 5 ingredients: An alcohol, lime, sugar, water, tea or spices. In favour of keeping both tea and spices, water was tossed out for a short, intense drink.

It took the Hoodooist a while to separate the flavours when this drink hits you so hard – the orange-red colour probably comes straight from the tea and jaggery, and served with large, sharp shard of slow melting ice. Smoky, tobacco, peat come through on the tongue. The intense sweetness of the jaggery help balance it a bit, with a date-sugariness. The gin goes straight for the back of the jaw where hops make their presence known – loudly. We suspect the spices include cumin, probably smoked paprika? Loved this drink, complex, with a wonderful smoky-sweetness.

The Chai Paanch though, throws those rules out the window with 2 spirits, 2 liqueurs and house chai. With the spices of the chai mixing in with the Gosling’s dark rum, Johnnie Walker Black Label, ginger and 80% Cocoa liqueurs. The most prominent flavours are first the sweet rum, then the chai, a splash of ginger, followed by simmering of cocoa in the background and the dryness of the Black Label. Half a glass of this I can enjoy, but then it can become a bit tiresome. Not a bad drink though, it’s one of the few drier drinks here.

 

Background: 1948 Sour, Foreground: Sonia's Negroni

Background: 1948 Sour, Foreground: Sonia’s Negroni

The Tanchoi Fix is one of the few aged drinks here, in oak: mandarin shrub, ginger, Hayman’s 1850 Reserve gin, quinine, to end with Szechuan pepper. I like how the pepper works in this drink, it’s not the predictable throaty burn after the flavour – it hits you on the first sip. The mandarin shrub isn’t too sweet, and expectedly works incredibly well with the ginger, leaving a subtle quinine aftertaste. Not too sweet, not too citrusy, very well balanced. A great intro for anyone who wants to try stronger drinks that they aren’t used to. The 1948 Sour is another of the great introductory drinks here, on the sweeter side, dry Indian Amrut whisky, peach, hibiscus, honey and lemon, layer of egg white. The peach and the honey are potent with the hibiscus rather subtle. A sour that’s not too sour, ‘mellow’ or ‘pleasant’ would be the right word to describe this drink.

 

No worries, there are longer drinks here too on this varied menu: The Toddy Tapper, a copper cup drink in the Julep family, instead of bourbon uses Sri Lanka’s answer to rum: Arrack. The ingredients are blazed and mixed into the ice, first the explosion of chilli to warm you up, through the savoury fennel and finally the sweet berries. A rollercoaster, this drink. There is the Bollybellini, Prosecco, raspberries, lychees, rose and cardamom. Rose and lychee taking centre stage with raspberry on the side.

 

Foreground: Viceroy's Old Fashioned, Background L-R: Bollybellini, Toddy Tapper

Foreground: Viceroy’s Old Fashioned, Background L-R: Bollybellini, Toddy Tapper

Two aged Old Fashioneds are on the cards too: The Viceroy’s Old Fashioned, bottle aged, Woodford Reserve Bourbon, bayleaf reduction, green tea and orange bitters, needs to be served far shorter than it is. Not my favourite, the aging of a sugared drink really emphasises the almost cola sweetness of it all. Green tea eventually gets overpowered half way through the drink, and the bayleaf only comes in too late. The Horniman’s Old Fashioned is a good choice for a pineapple fan, a very well-constructed drink (unfortunately I’m not that pineapple fan, but I recognise a decently made drink when I taste one). Oak aged, rum, pineapple syrup and bitters yield a very intensely pineapple drink with loud rum sweetness.

 

But as you can imagine, there are also drinks that don’t work. The Sonia’s Negroni makes a great Negroni, but I don’t see the Sonia bit. Made with Dishoom vermouth and macerated vanilla, cinnamon and ginger, the Campari heavy Negroni yields none of the added flavour till the ginger in the last two sips. Finally, for us Martini fans, neither on the table took to the Bombay Martini which, predictably, had far too much going on (you can guess this was our last ‘hey, what the hell, let’s see what happens’ drink). Stirred Tanqueray Rangpour gin, Noilly Prat, Antica Formula sweet vermouth (unexpected), and bitters made with *deep breath* vanilla, cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, ginger, sandalwood, cassia bark, and wormwood *exhale*. What you get goes way past fragrant into drinking-perfume territory. No.

 

The IPA Paanch

The IPA Paanch

Service has to account for incredible busy-ness. Was annoyed upstairs that there seemed to be no communication among the staff, no one had any idea if the queue was for the upstairs dining, or the bar downstairs, who was going where, your table is ready –but we didn’t ask for a table, yes you did, no we didn’t, where’s your pager, etc etc etc. The increasingly terribly presented (oh yes, arts university next door, let’s dress *interestingly*) waiting list fellows seemed to have no idea what they were actually doing. Those outfits are enough to second guess going in, you start wondering if it is a cocktail bar or a half-arsed uni drinking den with sake, red bull and sparkling wine as an ironic special. But once we settled at our table, things started running more smoothly. Downstairs, service was polite, attentive.

 

Dishoom upstairs may not provide a great list of drinks, but downstairs, the Permit Room opens up a huge pathway into bringing in subcontinental flavours to cocktails – not an easy task – many have tried and failed. And true, some cocktails here can be hit or miss, but the ones that hit, do it very well. Ambitious, well-constructed, well done!

 

Take advantage of the soft launch running till 19th Nov 2014, all the cocktails except large burra pegs are half price.

 

Drinks: Upstairs: **, Downstairs: ****
Atmosphere: ****
Service: ***

 

Dishoom King’s Cross

5 Stable Street, Granary Square,
London N1C 4AB

http://www.dishoom.com/2014/09/in-which-an-irani-cafe-finds-a-home-in-a-godown-behind-victoria-terminus-c-1928/

Three Eight Four, Brixton

Type of Bar: Tiny, Industrial
Damage£
Ideal for: Small Groups, Classics

 

For the past couple of years, Brixton has taken off for some of London’s most exciting food and bars, from pop ups to permanent residences – one such resident is the Three Eight Four on 2 minutes away from the station.

A non-descript shuttered venue, 384 is crowded on a Saturday night with its industrial-chic décor. The music is oddly slow and chilled out for a venue that seems to demand something a bit more upbeat and was repeatedly distracting people on our table – the Hoodooist was pleased it wasn’t just him being weird. Nonetheless, 384 is comfortable and buzzing.

Two menus are provided, the house cocktails and the classics, coming in a large leathered, weathered tome. House cocktails are a short list, but a healthy mix of long and short drinks.

 

The star of the night: The Smoked Manhattan was an obvious first choice: Pikesville Rye, Punt e Mes, Luxardo Maraschino, stirred and smoked with cherry. The Maraschino and Punt e Mes work well to present a Perfect Manhattan, the smoke initially adding a rich mouthfeel further back on the palate before dissipating. An excellent Manhattan any fan would enjoy.

Then, the Negroni Sbagliato; Campari, Punt e Mes and sparkling red wine – was certainly Campari heavy. Though the Manhattan appealed to me more, the Sbagliato has been well executed with its bite. The classic Bramble, though still sweet, was far less thick in texture, with more of the gin coming through – a Bramble for those of us with less of a palate for sweet drinks.

The Smoked Manhattan

The Smoked Manhattan

The Cherry Bakewell Caipiroska; Luksusowa & Davna Cherry vodkas, orgeat syrup over muddled lime and sugar was an odd one – you have to keep the ingredients in mind compared to the misleading name. It starts off with the intense cherry before suddenly warping to the strongly citrus lime and orange of the orgeat, the almond of the orgeat doesn’t come through – strangely enough.

Finally, the drink of the night that didn’t quite work: The Mr. Flambastic; Blackwell’s dark & Red Leg spiced rums with Cointreau, shaked with flambéed peaches in Gran Capataz brandy. I think I was expecting a dark drink served short (think of the Detroit Bar’s Stingwray: overproof rums, fruit liqueur, flambéed red fruits, served warm), but was served a tall, ice-filled bright orange drink that was both too sickly sweet and too tart for myself, and for most present.

 

The characteristic Classics menu

The characteristic Classics menu

Food, generally excellent. You can’t go wrong with sweet potato fries/chipotle mayo. Pinchos Maruno Moroccan spiced pork skewers work a charm, as do the ‘Nduja, Ricotta and Quail’s Egg on toasted bread. Ceviche could definitely come with more fish than cucumber.

Service was excellent. No complaints here. Crowds can make delays, but not obscenely so.

Summary? Three Eight Four is a great addition to the growing Brixton environment. Food and service is great, small venue means I’d recommend a booking. Cocktail wise, they’re excellently priced, with great handling of the Classic drinks, or twisted classics. In regards to experimental drinks, they can be a hit or miss, and also really up to the taste of the drinkers. Personally, the Classics really do win out here, and are a bargain – which is what makes us want to return. A star in Brixton.

NOTE: The ‘Drinks’ score get 4 stars for the Classics and value for money. The experimental drinks would get 2 stars otherwise.

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

 

Three Eight Four

384 Coldharbour Lane, Brixton
London, SW9 8LF

http://www.threeeightfour.com/

Gaucho Winter Terrace, Broadgate

Type of Bar: Pop Up, WinterTerrace, Bar/Restaurant, Tiny
Damage££
Ideal for: Date, Small Groups, Food, Rainy Days

What timing. The Hoodooist runs through the rain with an umbrella that is dying on him to Gaucho Broadgate’s launch of their Winter Terrace. Curious to see how the outdoor terrace stands the downpour, he shakes some of the rain off and fell in love.

Mind you, it’s tiny. If you can book a space, do it. But on a cold rainy day, I can’t say I’d be anywhere else than under that canopy with the scorching heaters, snuggled in the couches with friends and the blankets and hot-water bottles Gaucho provides. Yes. Blankets and hot-water bottles. Entirely enclosed by plush ferns and twinkling lights, this city centre oasis offers a wintery haven complete with a stunning hand-carved ice sculpture.

Gaucho Terr

Wanna make that deal sweeter? How does a Hennessey Hot Chocolate sound? Hennessey fine de cognac, chocolate liqueur, hot chocolate. It ain’t inspired, but it’s what you need. Served in a tall tumbler with chocolate shavings, it defines the venue for being a warm snuggle-haven as the rain pours down just inches away from you behind the thicket of bushes.

Two more hot cocktails on the menu: the first is the traditional Hot Toddy; Glenmorangie 10yr whiskey, fresh lemon, honey, orange marinade and cloves, though still a good hot drink, remind me too much of having the flu to really get into. What really did the job for me was the incredible Hot Smoked Apple; Belvedere Vodka, fresh pressed apple juice, a touch of Ardbeg 10 yr, and a cinnamon rim. Hot apple and cinnamon is always a good winter warmer, the vodka giving it the right alcohol content and that warmth of the whiskey is just right to not overpower. A favourite of the night.

 

Assorted melange of cocktails

Assorted melange of cocktails

Two cold spritzes were presented as well. The Spritz Rose mixes Argentine sparkling Rose with Torrontes white wine, elderflower and blackberry liqueurs. This was very well balanced, sweeter yes, but the blackberry helps mellow down the elderflower rather well – the preferred of the two spritzes. The second is the Spritz Blanco, Sauvignon Blanc/Torrontes, Aperol and fresh grapefruit juice, topped up Domaine Chandon; bit heavy on the grapefruit, this drink wasn’t a winner across the table, but one you can work with.

Drinks here are approachable and nothing too complex, but very well executed, and all at about 10 pounds.

A carefully chosen selection of Argentine wines is also available.

Domaine Chandon Brut NV

Besides that, the food served – spectacular. Canapés of rare steak, ceviche, sliders, and dulce the leche cheesecake made the night.

Service was polite and swift, and I must applaud Red Kite PR for a wonderful launch. I have to say, if there is anything to try this winter, it is this.

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

Gaucho Broadgate Winter Terrace

5 Finsbury Avenue,
London EC2M 2PG

http://www.gauchorestaurants.co.uk/restaurants/restaurant.php?id=broadgate

Bistrot Bruno Loubet, Clerkenwell

Type of Bar: Bar/Restaurant
Damage£££
Ideal for: Food, Date, Small Groups

 

The BBL, part of the Zetter Hotel, offered 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 attitude we dealt with the previous time. So props to that!
Remember, it is rare for service to be a constant problem if the bar is willing to remind their staff – but at the end of the day, service wins out on both atmosphere and drinks as the most important quality a bar offers.

The BBL, a medium sized bistro with rustic design that falls somewhere between traditional and modern provides a short cocktail list with a classical style.

Beginning with the Chamomile Bourbon Sour, it’s exactly what it says on the tin. Luckily not overpowered by the lemon juice as many hurried bartenders tend to go, the chamomile bourbon comes out smoothly, with the subtle floral sweetness of the chamomile, and the red berry sweetness of the bourbon.

The Clerk; Armagnac, Pineau des Charantes Vieux, apricot brandy, egg yolk – I was less thrilled about. Dividing egg yolk can be a task, but would probably be advised here, but that’s just up to taste. Strangely, it was the Pineau des Charantes that stood out to me the most, with the Armagnac slithering in soon after. The apricot brandy aftertaste was mild, and pleasant. An interesting aperitif with a digestif texture.

Finally, the classic York Club; 12yr Havana Club Selection de Maestros Rum, Lillet Rouge, apricot brandy, bitters –  similar to a sweet Manhattan with the choice of Lillet Rouge and apricot brandy, with the vanilla of the rum coming soon after.

If there is really anything negative I’d have to say about this experience with the BBL, is that I feel that the prices are a bit ambitious. I can see these drinks charging 9-10.50 pounds, not 10-12. It’s only a pound or so’s difference, so nothing to really complain about, but something I considered. All in all, a relaxed experience – I’m glad they offered to do away with my first impression of their previous employee.

 

Accidentally half-drunk Chamomile Bourbon Sour and York Club

Accidentally half-drunk Chamomile Bourbon Sour and York Club

On that note. The Zetter Town House (click HERE for review) next door is part of the Zetter family like BBL, and we moved there after our round here, for bit of a shock. We stopped by for their Halloween offer, the Nosferatini, wet Gin Martini with Iron and sugar. An enjoyable and unsettling drink with the strong iron aftertaste assaulting the back of the palate.

But in an attempt to take a twist on the Lord Hinchenbroke’s Fizz, we were faced either with a seriously confused communication snafu, or service issue, depending on how you see it.

Said Fizz: Birch liqueur, Antica Formula, Champagne. The transcript of the conversation, with our first, polite server who was wonderful through the night.

“I’d like to try this as a Manhattan, so perhaps an oaky whisky or a Rye, instead of the champagne?”
“I don’t think we can do that, it’s pre-mixed. The boss’ rules.”
“….So you just pour the pre-mix into the champagne? Could you just pour it into the whisky?”
“We will have to charge you extra for the whisky, sorry about that.”
“Never mind then.”

5 minutes later, as usual, curiosity won out. So the Hoodooist decided to stop said boss to have the pre-mix thrown into the whisky regardless of the extra charge.

“I’m sorry, we can’t do that.”
“Wait a minute, don’t you pour the pre-mix into the champagne?”
“Yes.”
“So can’t you pour it into the whisky?”
“No.”
“Why not?”
“It’s only for that specific drink.”
“Which you can pour into another like the previous guy said?”
“Not really.”
“Why?”
“Because it’s only for that drink.”
*blank stare*

A failed attempt to force the Hoodooist into an Antica Formula Manhattan later – a completely different drink from the above idea, one considers the service/drinks balance again. So congratulations to a bar I normally enjoy tarnishing a perfectly good evening. Is it possible this was communication issue instead of stubbornness for the sake of art over customer? Perhaps, but that would say a lot about an individual in the service industry having difficulty in communicating. A logical explanation for your choices suffices much better over attempting to switch drinks around. This was a shame I hardly expected to deal with at a normally enjoyable bar.

A bar provides a suitable explanation if they choose to defy the customer, or they’re hardly a bar. “That gin has not been in a freezer, so we can’t use it in our Martinis” is a logical explanation. But if the customer asks for ketchup in their Martini, you put the ketchup in the Martini.

Back to the Bistrot Bruno Loubet review, I look forward to stopping by here for a meal, and a great example of redemption – or maybe the BBL and Zetter Townhouse just dressed as each other for Halloween.

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

 

Bistrot Bruno Loubet @ the Zetter Hotel

St John’s Square,
86-88 Clerkenwell Rd,
London EC1M 5RJ

http://www.bistrotbrunoloubet.com/