One can’t really call Ruby’s ‘hidden’, exactly. Under a cinema-style sign, an ominous red stairway leading into the basement opens up a small, shabby chic style venue very reminiscent of the King’s Cross Simmons Bar.
The menu is divided in two, the permanent menu and seasonal – we decided to take on 2 seasonal, 1 permanent and 1 classic drink.
The seasonal Bitter Stump: Bourbon, Cynar, Benedictine, Bitters is exactly the kind of drink the Hoodooist would go for – it even comes with an artichoke…leaf? Thingy. ‘Bract’ (thanks, wiki). Wait, it is a kind of leaf. Yes. Alright! So the first half of the drink is greatly enjoyable, with the bourbon giving way to the Cynar balanced by Benedictine. But halfway through, it becomes very, very sweet. It could do with more Benedictine and bitters, I’d imagine. Loving the drink if it managed to keep its more savoury flavour all the way through.
The seasonal Nordic Cruise, with its winter style, takes on a similarly sweet personality. Pimento Dram, Cognac, Pear liqueur and cloves/cinnamon – starts off pleasantly enough. An enjoyable winter drink, the smoothness of the cognac and the pear initially, then the cloves and pimento dram. But about halfway through the flavours kinda dissipate, leaving a flat drink. Drink this one quickly.
The Kurimi is on the permanent menu: Nikka whisky, liquorice, black walnut. Seeming like a good idea at first, it turns out the latter two ingredients far outweigh the first, leaving a pleasing flavour, but far too sweet for an entire drink.
A Buffalo Trace bourbon Old Fashioned, is made excellently.
Really, the only concern in the imbalance to sweetness in the cocktails here, the menu tends toward the sweet as is. If there are complaints, it’s more about the choice of house cocktails than of anything else, since the bartenders are talented.
Of course, if these are flavours you enjoy, you will probably take to them far more than myself – but it would be nice to see slightly harder and drier drinks on the menu, too. Especially when the Old Fashioned came out that well. Maybe the next seasonal menu? Fingers crossed!
Ruby’s is a unique little spot on the up and coming Stoke Newington Road, and is a fun place to hang out over a drink, but probably more so for classics than house cocktails.
Drinks: House cocktails: ** , Classics: ***
76 Stoke Newington Road,
London N16 7XB.