Type of Bar: Tiny, Industrial
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 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.
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.
Three Eight Four
384 Coldharbour Lane, Brixton
London, SW9 8LF
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