Cocktails in the City 2015 – Summer Edition, London

For the second year in a row, Cocktails in the City came in for the weekend and swept the Hoodooist’s life into a tizzy. CitC’s Summer Edition brought 25 bars representing several spirit brands together under the sunny skies at Bedford Square Gardens where 2,000 Londoners came down over 2 days to try a whopping 7,724 cocktails!

Bars and a representing brand set up stalls where bartenders presented the brand in a cocktail of their devising to the public for judging, with scores gathered at the end of the weekend.

Here, we’re gonna look at the cocktails that impressed the Hoodooist most, as well as the best present stalls and experiences.

There was some serious competition this year for cocktails, and it was difficult to narrow it down, but the winners are certainly not a surprise, they’re fantastic bars as they are:

Cocktails in the City London

The Rev JW Simpson’s ‘Reverse Vesper’

The Reverend JW Simpson (Click HERE for Review!) presented 4 seperate cocktails, but their star was the Reverse Vesper : Lillet Blanc Vermouth, Belvedere Vodka, a touch of grapefruit and gin at a ratio of 6:2:1 of vodka:gin:vermouth.

With the smooth crispness of the vodka, expect a heavily juniper cocktail, smooth enough for the vermouth’s flavours to come through. At a guess, it may have been City of London Distillery Gin (More on COLD Here), with the sweet tang of grapefruit.

With an outdoor set up of their basement bar, the Rev brought out a comfy seating space under the sun, with a beautiful crystal stand, and a ‘Be a Martini’ multisensory experience that left you a bit stirred. With the wonderful Jim Wrigley and Joaquin Smith behind the bar, you can only expect the perfect Martini.

Cocktails in the City London

Fu Manchu Bar’s ‘The Deception of Fu Manchu’

Only a couple of months into their career and the Fu Manchu (Click HERE for Review) is already readying their new Winter menu – and CitC got a preview! Presenting The Deception of Fu Manchu : Rye whiskey, Campari, homemade Raspberry and Vanilla shrub, lemon, grenadine, topped with Tsingtao beer foam. Not sure what to expect, the cocktail sounded like it would be a bit all over the place, but surprised with it’s lively flavours.

The rye whiskey and Campari is exactly what the drink needed to balance the sweetness of the raspberry and vanilla shrub, and the beer foam has a powerful presence and effect of the palate of the cocktail (which, do not worry, tastes nothing like beer). The nose actually adds a refreshing tanginess to the experience, offsetting the raspberry and grenadine which manage the Campari, the rye whiskey maintaining a presence throughout the cocktail, ending neatly on the vanilla. If this is what their next menu will be like, I’m looking forward to it.

The stand itself may have been more suited to an indoor or nighttime event, with it’s deep reds and greens and golds. The host of ingredients were presented to the public alongside Tsingtao for those who’d rather have a beer, and customised fortune cookies containing a host of Fu Manchu vouchers, from a free cocktail to 20% off your bill! With their delightful barteam, this stall was another hit in the Hoodooist’s book.


Cocktails in the City London

Shrub and Shutter’s ‘Honey I Shrunk the Kids’

Brixton’s experimental Shrub and Shutter took the Whitley Neill Gin brand from last year’s PKD Bar (thankfully, nobody is ever in the mood for the PKD’s surprisingly racist menu and decor shenanigans) and presented the the Honey I Shrunk the Kids : Whitley Neill Gin, Zuidam Honey Whiskey, honey syrup, lemon, lavender bitters.

The Bedford Square Gardens were perfect for this drink. Lavender and lime break in first, strengthened by the scent from the lavender garnish, and soon settle in with the honey that pairs so wonderfully with the warmer botanicals of the Whitley Neill. Tart to sweet, with hints of floral.


Cocktails in the City London

Coq d’Argent’s ‘Far East’

The Far East by Coq d’Argent was probably the most snapped cocktail of the day: U’luvka Vodka with kaffir lime leaves and chilli, sochu with green tea, lemon, agave nectar, decorated with coloured spices and an edible flower. This cocktail deserves all the recognition it got.

First, under the floral canopies of the beautiful stand, the drink seemed perfectly designed for the ‘Summer Edition’ of CitC. The cocktail strutted in with a rosey tartness of the kaffir lime leaves in the crystal crisp U’luvka, with background heavy weight of the sochu, lightened by the green tea’s herbaceousness (and something else…coriander?), ending on a sweet note, with a lingering heat of the chilli infusion (more of a Tabasco heat) and dance of warm spice from the garnish.

If this isn’t on their menu, it ought to be.

Cocktails in the City London

Demon, Wise and Partner’s ‘Extra Aged Demon’

Recently opened City basement bar Demon, Wise and Partners swaggered in with their Extra Aged Demon : Evan Williams Extra Aged Whiskey, Chocolate Absinthe Liqueur, Demon, Wise and Partners Bitters. This cocktail just screams DWP, it is so reminiscent of their bar style, with focus on continental flavours less expressed here, bitter aniseed fascinations. Paired with cocoa dusted chocolate truffles, this bourbon muscles in with leather and brown sugar, accentuated by the chocolate, the absinthe liqueur kicking it down to size with some spice from the bitters. More of an indoor cocktail, but one we could relax with on the grass away from the crowd.

Cocktails in the City London

The Cocktail Trading Company’s ‘Blend It Like Peckham’

The Cocktail Trading Company (Click HERE for Review!), brought in the Blend It Like Peckham : Chambord, lemon sherbet, egg white, soda, milk. Served out of a slushie machine, the bright pink cocktail with it’s slurpy texture, obviously, had to be served in a shampoo bottle. Because why the hell not. The Major outdid themselves with a surprising drink, well balanced (even if you don’t have a sweet tooth) between the Chambord and lemon sherbet, and who knew how well soda and dairy work once put through a slushie machine?


Cocktails in the City London

Loves Company knows how to put a show

Meanwhile, Loves Company (Click HERE for Review!),  governed by the excellent Harry Gerakis, brought the beach to London; complete with sand, deckchairs, limbo competitions, ice creams and espresso martinis – now that’s one hell of a stand.

It wasn’t just about the cocktails as each bar created its own particular experience,  with an honorable mention going to Barrio Bars –  runner up to Loves Company, who put on a silent disco as well as inviting guests to get crafty and decorate tiles that will soon adorn the walls of their new opening in Brixton.


And that’s a wrap! After such a successful Summer Edition, the question is, what will Cocktails in the City be creating for their next exciting installment? God knows I can’t wait till the next CitC.


Leicester House, Chinatown

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


I’ve gotten used to this corner of Soho metamorphosing into different hotels each time I visit. Though the last time was a while back when the Talented Mr. Fox resided on the upper floor (Mr. Fox, who is now focusing his energy in the Bethnal Green destination, Peg + Patriot: Click HERE for Review!)

Leicester House Chinatown Soho Vietnamese Cocktails

Leicester House has turned the eerie abattoir chic of its previous incarnations to much more welcoming hues that strongly echo the designers’ work at the Firmdale Hotel group with cerulean and flame orange. Screaming European contemporary, the design is not what you’d expect from a restaurant that identifies itself as ‘French-Vietnamese’. In fact, the meal reflects the continental décor more than its South East Asian heritage – but we’ll get to that in a moment. After all, we are a cocktail blog first and foremost:


Seated on a banquette, the Hoodooist could hardly nurse a Sangiovese – handed by the charming and experienced Michael who runs the show with incredible finesse and efficiency – much longer when they word TALISKER screamed out at him from the menu.

Leicester House Chinatown Soho Vietnamese Cocktails

The Smoking Negroni

Beginning with a Smoking Negroni: Talisker 10 yr Whisky mixed in with Campari, sweet vermouth, garnished with an orange twist. The nose is distinctly that of the Skye whisky, thick smoke and brine. The first sip instantly hits you with the same flavours, as well as white pepper peatiness, and pronounced heather as the flavours begin to move to the citrus sweetness of the vermouth and the Campari bitterness. The finish has a lingering malt from the whisky.

The first glass was beautiful – however, a friend on the table with the same cocktail received a drink distinctly imbalanced in comparison to the one above, a lot more heavy on the Campari, and skimping on the vermouth, a more medicinal cocktail was produced.

Done well, the Smoking Negroni is wonderful, though one needs to be very precise.

Leicester House Chinatown Soho Vietnamese Cocktails

The Kaffir Gimlet

The Kaffir Gimlet brings together Sipsmith Gin, lime, and Kaffir lime leaves. The nose is beautifully floral, with the playful citrus of the Kaffir leaves. Flavours of strong juniper, marmalade, sweet citrus and even (somehow) rose comes through, with a dry, zesty finish. A drink that manages to be simultaneously rather sweet and dry, and perfect for summer afternoons. Simple and refreshing.


The French ‘Pisco’ Sour is a tragic name for a perfectly good drink. Yes, Armagnac and Pisco are similar in many ways: though the grapes are different, both are distilled from wines to produce intense and ludicrously strong brandies – the name French ‘Pisco’ Sour is a worrying attempt to make it familiar, I suppose.

Armagnac Blanche, lime, sugar and egg white. The wheatiness of the Armagnac still soaks through with its earthy terroir flavours, softened by the lime and sugar – a good aperitif in any case.

Leicester House Chinatown Soho Vietnamese Cocktails

The Perfect Calva

Finally, the Perfect Calva mixes Calvados, Sweet and Dry Vermouth, garnished with Grillotines cherries. I think it’s the choice in vermouths here that plays an important part – the finished drink is harsh, confused, and could probably benefit from using Cognac as a base. Though the bar menu at Leicester House focuses on simplicity, this cocktail verges on amateurish.

Leicester House Chinatown Soho Vietnamese Cocktails

One realises that being a bar is not what Leicester House was going for, the main focus would be the French-Vietnamese cuisine – which would be interesting considering how impacted Vietnamese food was by the French when colonised. Though the dishes were distinctly Vietnamese, they were also distinctly European in that the Vietnamese flavours of citrus and pungent spice were heavily toned down to the point of becoming an Anglicised palate of ‘Vietnamese’ cuisine (why is there Italian ham here?). Many spices seem to have given way to the use of salt and pepper. A tendency to overcook slightly (particularly scallop) is evident.

That is not to say there were no must-order dishes – a simple and satiating starter of green papaya and daikon salad, along with blackened squid and samphire are excellent options. The cod XO sauce may be cooked to perfection, but lacks punch.

What stood out the most as a hit across the table would easily be the rich dark chocolate pot layered with hazelnut coffee cream. Star.

Leicester House Chinatown Soho Vietnamese Cocktails

The Leicester House certainly does not aim at focusing on its bar, although could benefit dramatically with more experienced talent behind it. The tendency to simplicity can be a double edged sword, on one hand easy to knock out and reliable – on the other possibly lacking lustre. But hopefully consistency in the cocktails can improve with practice, since the Smoking Negroni is entirely too good when prepared right.

Also hope to see more of a Vietnamese edge in cocktails, the use of more Eastern flavours and possible the host of Rượu rice liquors that Vietnam has to offer.


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


Leicester House

1 Leicester Street,
London WC2H 7BL

FREE GIVEAWAY: Yelp’s Big Night In!

Yelp London Treat Yoself Free Giveaway
It’s a party at your place, and you’re the only one invited!
After the immensely successful VIP Ticket Giveaway on Highball Hoodoo to the excellent Yelp’s Mad Scientist Soirée (Review HERE) and the previous year’s Elite Summer Garden Party (Review HERE)Yelp is back with something a little different!
It’s time to treat yo’self (and you can do it with your trousers off.) Yes, on Friday, July 31st, we will be running the first ever YELP’S BIG NIGHT IN! Who wouldn’t want to be fed, pampered and taken care of, for free, all from your own home, in the comfort of your PJs!
  • Free laundry picked up and delivered right to your door from Laundrapp!
  • Your home beautifully cleaned by Hassle, for free!
  • Anything you want, picked up and delivered by Quiqup!
  • A service of your choice from Bizzby! We’d suggest free therapeutic massages, but if you need an errand run or want a personal trainer session before cracking into all that food, they can make that happen too!


Want in?

– Make sure you have an active Yelp profile (meaning photos or reviews added) in case we have an overabundance of RSVPs!

– Check to make sure you’re free on Friday, 31st July, since the credit must be used on that date.

– RSVP on THIS EVENT PAGE now! (Winners will be notified on Friday 24 July.)

–  Only those with a real photo and name on their Yelp Profile will get a spot.

– Again, if the event goes over capacity, those who are recently active on Yelp (meaning adding great REVIEWS, PICTURES or LISTS) will be given priority, so make sure you keep your Yelp Profile up to date with all the places you’ve been to lately!

That’s it!

We’ll be choosing 30 winners next week to all participate on the same night. There’s never been a night in like this before and you know you would love to win a spot!

And remember… treat yo’self!

The Sun Tavern, Bethnal Green

Type of Bar: Pub (?), Whisky, Poitin
Damage: £
Ideal for: Sundays, Lounge, Small Groups, Date


Reopening last year, regulars were glad to see that the Sun Tavern retained its pub atmosphere, blurring the line between pub and cocktail bar. The biggest perk of the venue is its morning opening, serving pastries and coffee, and pub grub throughout the day (alongside its Neal’s Yard sourced charcuterie).

And this is all alongside its selection of craft beers and Irish Poitin (a pretty large collection considering it only being legalised about 3 years ago).
Small, with bare brick, a sizable bar, and a fantastic playlist from Zeppelin, to Ram Jam, to the Talking Heads – the Sun Tavern is your local boozer with quiet confidence in its skill and product. And confident they should be – the cocktails are incredible.

Sun Tavern Bar Bethnal Green London Cocktail

The One For The Road, sausage roll not included ;P

Beginning with a sausage and stilton roll, the Hoodooist orders a One For the Road: Irish Whiskey, Peated Irish Whiskey, English Spiced Vermouth, Amaro Montenegro. Such a beautiful cocktail – the initial hit is of the Amaro’s rosewater, quickly retreating into the whiskey, with a quick buildup of peat, smoking its way in. Once that smoky wave subsides, spices come forth from the Amaro and vermouth (which I’m going to guess is by Sacred Distilleries, with its hints of liquorice and cinnamon). The cocktail, though peaty, is very light, and works well in the daytime.

Sun Tavern Bar Bethnal Green London Cocktail

The Red Lombriz

The Red Lombriz wanders into sweeter territory: Mezcal, Raspberries, Agave Syrup, Lemon, Chocolate Bitters. Pink and dusted with chocolate shavings, it’s certainly a looker – citrus and sweet dominate the drink, with agave syrup’s unique flavour working surprisingly well with raspberries. The chocolate bitters do a great job at rounding out the drink.

Sun Tavern Bar Bethnal Green London Cocktail

The Fleur de Lis

Back to whiskey, the Fleur de Lis brings Irish Double Whiskey, Cognac, Cynar, Lime, and Pecan Syrup together to make a slightly thick, and laid back kicker of drink. I find this one difficult to describe. It somehow manages a distinct citrus to it even while bringing the whiskey’s butterscotch sweetness – suspect the whiskey might be a Glendalough? The cognac grants a depth and warmth to it, probably enhanced by the pecan. The Cynar being a Hoodooist favourite helps provide balance to the sweetness.

Sun Tavern Bar Bethnal Green London Cocktail

The Wake

Finally, The Wake: 3yr Guyanese rum, Suze, Overproof Poitin, Lemon – Of course, the overproof Poitin bit is fascinating, as it can run well into the 90% ABV. The nose is loud, sour, and almost like sand after rain – not soil, not earth, sand. The 3 yr rum, which I’m gonna hazard a guess at El Dorado 3yr, provides a coconut and hay flavour, and dry – harmonises well with the Suze’s bitter gentian. That drop of Poitin is what, I suspect, adds to the dry, grassy, white rum flavours. Long, dry, citrus, bitter – the cherry at the end is a major contrast, and seems to soak up the Poitin like a shot because wow it’s a kick in the teeth.


It was difficult to keep up with the One for the Road (or even the Fleur de Lis), but the short cocktail list manages to be incredibly original, hard-hitting, exquisitely prepared and a bargain. Service is exceptionally swift, whether at bar or table.

The Sun Tavern’s easily the Hoodooist’s favourite new spot in Bethnal Green.


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


The Sun Tavern

441 Bethnal Green Road
London E2 0AN

The Summer of Twin Peaks!

Press play. You know you want to.

Cosy? Comfy? Got a cup of damn fine coffee on ya?
Fantastic. So.


25 years, and Twin Peaks has come rushing back into public consciousness with the announcement of Season 3, coming 2017. And if you’re looking for that Twin Peaks fix, here are some of London’s premier Peaks events to keep you going till then!



Where Punchdrunk’s The Drowned Man was a Lynch-inspired fantasy of epic proportions, this summer’s The Owls Are Not What They Seem go all out as a Lynch and Twin Peaks immersive dining experience at an undisclosed location.

From 27th August to 17th October, pop up artists Lemonade and Laughing Gas team up with culinary masters Blanch & Shock to prepare an immersive theatre Lynch environment with a three course meal – all with a twist on a damn fine cup of coffee and cherry pie.

Twin Peaks David Lynch Double R Club

Immersive dining always calls for cherry pie.

Sets, installations, and even a late night drinking den complete with bespoke cocktails and secret missions mean that even if you can’t make it to dinner, you can enjoy the themed bar. And remember to come looking your Lynchian best! Best costumes win an award each evening!

The Owls Are Not What They Seem will be running from 27th August to 17th October 2015.
Tickets for The Owls Are Not What They Seem go on sale midday on 17th July.
Tickets are £65, and entry to the bar is £5.



But maybe the end of August is just too far away, and you need your hit ASAP.

In which case, if you haven’t heard of it already, either being shouted about by the drunk in the corner or whispered about only in hushed tones when in polite company – London’s own Lynchian institution – The Double R Club.

Twin Peaks David Lynch Double R Club


One of the Hoodooist’s favourite cabarets and nights out in London hands down. The multi-award-winning Double R Club is too peculiar a creature to describe. “Inspired either directly or indirectly by the dark and terrifying world of David Lynch,” announces ‘f*ckin’ suave’ host, Benjamin Louche, the monkey to the organ grinder that is co-producer and retired burlesque performer, Miss Rose Thorne.

A space where mundane and horrifying collide, The Double R Club is a liminal animal, and the Hoodooist uses terms like animal and creature quite intentionally. The space itself is a character in this twisted, lurid nightmare – Angelo Badalamenti’s ‘Pink Room’ echoes across the red drapes and through the thick cover of smoke that slinks between tables – so thick the lights on stage fade and flicker.

Twin Peaks David Lynch Double R Club

Louche’s shameless humour and passionate poetry intersperse cabaret acts too daring for many venues, earning the Club vivid one-word descriptions varying from ‘demented’ to ‘sick’. Yet the compere’s paso dobles and maddened grin draw you back to a foggy form of lucidity from the grotesque dreamworld that each act drags you into – willing, or un. If there was a dictionary of everyday nightmares we choose to repress, The Double R Club will whisper it directly into your cochlea. Not unlike a parasitic centipede, really. It just wants a bed for night. Your heart can’t be that cold.

Whether it’s your cup of tea or not, missing The Double R Club is a big mistake. Whether you end up being the crowd stunned to silence, or the regulars cackling maniacally through the fog, huddled around flickering red candles, is up to you. The regulars have mostly just learnt to give in to the madness in this red, red room.

When the lights come back on and Louche’s voice fades, asking you if you were really there, you will have your answer.

Twin Peaks David Lynch Double R Club

The Double R Club will be hosting a show at the London Wonderground on August 1st, and then returning to its home at the Bethnal Green Working Men’s Club for its 6th Birthday show on September 17th.

*you know where the Hoodooist will be on 17th September then*


Tickets for The Double R Club at the London Wonderground August 1st  2015 are at £17

Tickets for The Double R Club at the Bethnal Green Working Men’s Club September 17th 2015 are at £10 (includes a coffee & cherry shot, and donut!)



Working closely with the Double R Club, in fact, is the legendary Twin Peaks Festival!

This October, with two riotous days that would leave any Twin Peaks fan chomping at the bit, the Twin Peaks Festival is back to Whitechapel’s Genesis Cinema – bringing with it stars from the show including Lee, Ashbrook, and Amick (YES. YES, INDEED.), among others.

Visitors can expect signing with the actors, and a wrap up party with them including a bespoke Agent Cooper Cocktail, and obviously cherry pie and donuts. Don’t forget David Lynch’s very own line of coffee beans!

Between screenings, performances and Mulholland Drive Jitterbug dance class, you also get to explore Glastonberry Grove, and witness performers at the Double R Club return to the train car with BOB and Laura Palmer – because what’s a good weekend without a spot of murder?

Twin Peaks David Lynch Double R Club

“She’s my cousin…but doesn’t she look…almost exactly like Laura Palmer?” ~ Miss Miranda at the TPFestival.

The Twin Peaks Festival will be running on the 3rd & 4th of October 2015.
A Day Ticket can be purchased at £100
A Weekend Ticket can be bought at £180


This summer is the certainly the summer of Twin Peaks, and there always seems to be sweet music in the air.

Discount Suit Company, Aldgate

Type of Bar: Basement, Speakeasy, Tiny
Ideal for: Small Groups, Party


The street’s covered with clothing stores, and a discount suit store is hardly unique in these parts – except for one: The Discount Suit Company, housed in an ex-suit store basement, houses some of the more imaginative cocktails in the are.

Run by the Umbrella Project (also responsible for the Sun Tavern, Bethnal Green – Review up Friday 17th July ’15!), the DSC is a very intimate basement space, candlelit – though surprisingly loud – so I’d recommend booking a table in advance if you’d rather have a conversation down at the couch.

Like both bars by the Umbrella Project, the DSC keeps a a beautiful bar-back and short cocktail menu (off menu classics can be prepared), and for the summer, expect light cocktails focusing on sweet and slightly spiced flavours. The Hoodooist is walked through the menu by the fantastic Connor behind the bar:


Discount Suit Company London cocktails Aldgate


Koffie? Wow, I’d love one of these every morning. Genever, Ristretto liqueur, Fernet Branca, cold brew coffee, orgeat, egg yolk. Surprisingly light (you’d expect something heavier with the yolk, but the creaminess is not as thick as you’d think). The bitter Fernet Branca is barely perceptible, just to help balance the sweetness of the ristretto liqueur and orgeat. The almond in the orgeat works well with the bright floral notes of the Genever. Very short, but a beautiful drink.

Discount Suit Company London cocktails Aldgate

Connor preparing the Pollo Loco

The bright green Pollo Loco is exactly what this summer asked for, Tequila Blanco, St. Germain, Absinthe, lemon, cucumber, honey water. Senses assaulted by waves of honey water and cucumber, the vegetal green of the cucumber tempered by the St. Germain – finally the tequila’s pepper and agave lingering underneath. All the while being a light summer cocktail.

Discount Suit Company London cocktails Aldgate

The Grapes and the Grain

The Grapes and the Grain: Gin, Pisco, Velvet Falernum, grape juice, lime, honey water. Tropical without being tropical, this cocktail has pronounced flavours of the ginger, cloves and sweetness in Velvet Falernum, with the sweet honey water and a fruitiness that can only be ascribed to the grape juice. From underneath these the Pisco emerges, a light singe and more fruit.

Another light summer drink, but lacks the same intensity of the Pollo Loco, and begins to lose character quickly – but a good way to end to a night of drinks with something cleansing and relaxed.

Discount Suit Company London cocktails Aldgate

The Dane-ted Love

Next up, Bartender Connor’s favourite, the Dane-ted Love. Now we’re back in business: Akvavit, Amaro Montenegro, lemon juice, lemongrass syrup. The otherwise powerful rose notes of the Amaro Montenegro are surprisingly calm in this cocktail – instead the spice and fruit notes of the Amaro are lengthened by the lemon juice and akvavit, and the citrus drink is sweetened lightly by the lemongrass.

On the topic of sweetness, The Royal Rhubarb goes all the way: Rhubarb vodka, cherry aperitif, vanilla syrup, rhubarb bitters, topped up with Prosecco. No surprise that it’s rhubarby – the cherry and the drier notes of the aperitif (gonna guess it’s Bold London Spirit?), its clove and cassia, and the dry Prosecco, help round out the flavour of the cocktail by adding a little bit of oomph.

Discount Suit Company London cocktails Aldgate

The Royal Rhubarb

The Captain Cobbler, really, is the one drink the Hoodooist wouldn’t order again – Dark rum, Amontillado sherry, kumquat, ginger and honey marmalade, pink grapefruit and IPA head. I’m sure there is an audience who’d enjoy this, but it came off as a confused, sweet muddle.

Discount Suit Company London cocktails Aldgate

The Captain Cobbler

The Discount Suit Co.’s cocktail game is strong, as usual – fantastic in fact, for a short menu – and recognise that simplicity is key. Of course, a short menu can be limiting, so whisky cocktails are gonna be classics ordered off menu – which shouldn’t be a problem with this fantastic team – fun, conversational, swift, gotta love the guys behind the bar.

Discount Suit Company London cocktails Aldgate

The House of Ban-Boo

The Discount Suit Co. is another testament to the Umbrella Project’s skill at good bar concepts: aiming for simplicity, while understanding the customers and serving up quality at fabulous wallet-preserving costs (particularly handy close to the university as it is). Love this joint.


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


Discount Suit Company

29A Wentworth Street,
London E1 7TB

Dead Rabbit, New York, USA @ Callooh Callay

After last week’s visit of Conrad Algarve’s Wilson Pires to London (Click HERE for Review!) – this week brings the team from famed, multi-award-winning bar Dead Rabbit NYC to London’s Callooh Callay! Bringing with them a selection of cocktails from their own absolutely massive menu.

USA New York Dead Rabbit Cocktails

Dead Rabbit’s Irish Coffee

Dead Rabbit’s Irish Coffee, or, “Irish coffee? How good can an Irish Cof-holy s******** this is amazing” served hot: Powers Signature Release Irish Whiskey, Demerara, Coffee, Fresh Cream, Nutmeg – I do not know what unholy forces put this together, but it’s brilliant. The Demerara layer after the first kick of full-bodied coffee really seals the deal, ending with the lingering warmth of whiskey. Brilliant.

USA New York Dead Rabbit Cocktails

Buck The Trend

The Buck the Trend brings Redbreast 15 year Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey, Usquebaugh Spice Blend, Meadowsweet Cordial, lemon, dandelion and burdock bitters together for a bright, floral, summer cocktail. The nose is full of honey, tropical fruits, citrus and floral notes, the palate is, well, for the lack of a better term, a ray of sunshine. Some of the Redbreast’s stewed fruits and toffee notes come through to add a depth to the sweet honeyed flavour of the meadowsweet cordial, and the zesty spices of the blend. Even the dandelion and burdock bitters play a part in securing that image of a summer field – perfect time of year for this cocktail.


USA New York Dead Rabbit Cocktails

Bán Voyages and Irish Coffee

The Bán Voyage swaggers in with a totally different flavour profile. Nicknamed a ‘Whiskey Negroni’ at our table, it’s an exquisitely complex and sophisticated drink to sit back with –  Yellow Spot Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey, Cocchi Americano, Bán Poitin, Luxardo Sangue Morlacco, St. Germain, Amer Picon, Dead Rabbit Orinoco bitters, Absinthe.

The whiskey’s nose is most prominent, Yellow Spot’s stone fruits, a certain sherry-ness (probably enhanced by the Morlacco), but dry notes come through as well (possibly the Amer Picon and vermouth). The palate is smooth and long, the sweetness of marzipan accompanies the otherwise dry flavours. The tartness of the Morlacco brings the cherry flavours, but needs the Picon, Cocchi and Absinthe to temper its otherwise unholy sweetness. The Absinthe itself isn’t potent, but seems to play more as a cleansing aniseed right toward the end, like an afterthought.

Strangely, the Hoodooist felt the Orinoco’s flavours the strongest: the heat-ridden bark spices from sandalwood to cinnamon, to raisins and bitter orange peels. A beautifully complex cocktail to ponder over.

USA New York Dead Rabbit Cocktails

Ace King Jack

After that winner, the Ace King Jack kinda paled in comparison: Green Spot Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey, Calvados, Amer Picon, Yellow Chartreuse, Beetroot, lemon. It was difficult to get much out of this besides the overbearing sweetness of the beetroot paired with Calvados. Some of the herby notes of the whiskey came through, but I suppose one needs the sweeter drinks on the menu as well, but it felt one-dimensional. Similar to the Asylum Seeker (Jameson Black Barrel Irish Whiskey, Old Forester Bourbon, lime, coffee, chicory, pecan, absinthe), which may have been a slip of the hand, since at the table, it was difficult to taste much more than the absinthe.

USA New York Dead Rabbit Cocktails

The Asylum Seeker

The Blackbirds is a very simple cocktail that accomplishes the job of quenching thirst in its simplicity: Jameson Original Irish Whiskey, Orange sherbet, Bergamot, Fever Tree soda. The bergamot, being such a fragile flavour, plays a much more subtly part in the entire cocktail, but you really need a patio for this drink. Easy to make at home for those heatwaves too.

USA New York Dead Rabbit Cocktails

L-R: Blackbirds, Jimmy the Red

Finally, the Jay and Silent Bob – love this: Power John’s Lane Release Irish Whiskey, Crème de Framboise, Ancho Chilli, Cocchi Torino, Jerry Thomas Decant bitters. Bitter, but not too bitter; sweet, but not too sweet. Dry, but still with a sweet vermouth roundedness (probably from the sherry casks the whiskey was aged in) – striking a balance, probably that’s why the name. The strawberry and chilli are not powerful flavours here, but play their part in tempering the cocktail. The Cocchi and whiskey work together wonderfully to make an aperitif to be proud of. Fruits, orange, cherries, balanced alongside vanilla, chocolate, raisins – finally ending with something cool, like menthol? Clean, cutting. Love.

USA New York Dead Rabbit Cocktails

Jay And Silent Bob


Dead Rabbit really knows how to put on a show. Coming down to Callooh Callay in London, they brought a taste of the cocktail scene in NYC, highlighting the distinct similarities and differences in the industry half a world apart, and of course, bringing their spectacular skill with them. If ever in NYC, you’d be mistaken to not visit.

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

Dead Rabbit NYC

30 Water Street,
near Broad Street, New York City
New York, USA.

Conrad Algarve, Portugal @ Conrad St. James

Type of Bar: Hotel
Damage: ££-£££
Ideal for: Lounge, Date, Small Groups


Wilson Pires, award-winning head-bartender of restaurant Gusto at the Conrad Algarve, Portugal, popped by the London St. James Conrad for a masterclass to show what the Algarve has to offer in it’s 18th century palace seaside surrounds.

Inspired by Faro, a pocket of tropic green overlooking the Gulf of Cadiz, Pires insists that all his cocktails come with a story, or make it as much of a multisensory experience as possible – including ostentatious garnishes, presentation, or incenses.

Portugal Conrad Algarve Cocktail

The Senhorita

The first drink from the Conrad Algarve menu, the Senhorita – driven by Pires’ perception of the feminine: lemongrass and grapefruit are mixed in small amounts into the lime juice, then the primary ingredient, the sweet raspberry puree is contrasted against the spicy/sour ginger juice, ending with the Portuguese Medronho fire-water brandy (Aguardente de Medronho) Castelo Silves.

Primarily a sweet drink, the raspberry dominated the palate, followed by the kick of ginger, the sourness of the lime mix lingers in the sidelines. The medrenho, powerful and ruthless when drunk neat, is tempered well into this cocktail, though the Hoodooist wishes it had a bit more of a presence, so as to not soften the cocktail *too* much.

Portugal Conrad Algarve Cocktail

Europe’s Best Kept Secret

Inspired by the Algarve itself, the Europe’s Best Kept Secret mixes Beefeater 24 gin, honey, bee pollen, eucalyptus tisane and grapefruit, accompanied by pine incense. The incense and the eucalyptus tisane provide a cooling balance to the other warm flavours. The warm bitterness of the bee pollen and the herbaceous eucalyptus are pronounced, resting on the most prominent grapefruit flavour. Initially an odd concoction, but a summer beach would bring this cocktail to life.

Portugal Conrad Algarve Cocktail


Finally, the Saudade attempts to condense the emotion into a cocktail by mixing Ginjinha (or simply Ginja) sour Morello cherry liqueur, Madeira wine, honey, salt water, and Port bitters. Continuing on Pires’ favoured theme of contrasts and opposites working together, Saudade attempts to bring the deep, bitter-sweet flavours linked to distant memories to life in the sweet-sour Ginja and Madeira, contrasted by the salt water and the similarly ambiguous Port bitters.

The result is the closest to what the Hoodooist might order of the three: a dark, intense, short cocktail that one really must take their time with, as it can be bit of a handful. The cherry hits first, but then seems almost softer in comparison to the stone-fruit and raisin heat of the Madeira. The salt water and Port bitters are not immediately perceptible, but notably affect the overall drink, adding width to the flavour profile.

Portugal Conrad Algarve Cocktail

The cocktails are notably different from what London normally has to offer, and certainly deserve a dry Mediterranean heat and sea salt spray to bring them to life – and very well will, in Wilson Pires’ inspired hands.


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



Gusto @ Conrad Algarve

Estrada da Quinta do Lago
8135-106 Almancil

Algarve, Portugal

Ice Dream Drams @ The Scotch Malt Whisky Society, Clerkenwell


If the heatwave on the Central Line hasn’t cost you your faith in intelligent design, a short walk from Chancery Lane brings you to the out-of-the-way doorstep of the Scotch Malt Whisky Society.

And what better way to deal with the summer but with ice cream?

Or better yet, whisky ice creams!

Paired with more whisky.



Can you tell I’m enjoying this

Whisky Ice Cream Summer SMWS

The usually Member’s Only venue will be open to the public to sample 4 of the Ice Dream Drams and pairings during 4 Scoop Sessions on the 1st, 8th, 16th and 22nd of July 2015 at 15 quid a person!

SMWS buys casks of whisky that they place under a numbering system to keep the customers blind to distillery preferences, and for Ice Dream Drams, the whiskies are paired with ice creams by S. Luca, made with the same whiskies, as well as flavoured to either complement or contrast the dram.

Whisky Ice Cream Summer SMWS

The 64.61 ‘The Angel and the Devil’, alongside the Snowball Seduction icecream

At our Scoop Session, we began with the Cask No. 64.61, titled ‘The Angel and the Devil’. The nose is bold with coconut and vanilla, the first sip being powerfully oaky and intense on the vanilla. Hints of stewed fruits, autumnal with brown sugar and nutmeg, butterscotch – but contrasted by brighter flavours of citrus and light herbs.

A young ex-bourbon barrel, paired with a Snowball Seduction ice cream – vanilla and coconut, with 64.61 whisky. Complementing the flavours of the young whisky, it also happens to be the most subtle of the ice creams of the evening.

Whisky Ice Cream Summer SMWS
The second whisky, the 41.65 is called ‘Sweet Couscous and Argan Oil’ – a beautiful dry, spice whisky, 30 years old in an ex-bourbon hogshead cask – the Hoodooist fell in love with this one, and enjoyed it neat (and is very similar to a mezcal by Bruxo!). The nose is complex, on one hand, somewhat reminiscent of polish, on the other, the sweet fragrance surrounding beehives. The palate is powerfully spicy, and are much deeper than first expected: powerfully Moroccan with raisins, Argan oil, as well as roasted figs in honey, intense cloves, star anise. Beautiful. Paired with the Ginger Rasta ice cream with its ginger bite and chunks of ginger cake.

Whisky Ice Cream Summer SMWS

The third whisky, 117.5, is utterly beautiful, coming in from Ireland, it’s described as ‘Smouldering, Brooding and Alluring’. 22 years in an ex-sherry hogshead cask, the drier, deeper flavours of the sherry cask are notably passed into the whisky.

For the Hoodooist, the nose was powerfully warm, cocoa, cinnamon, manuka honey, sandalwood, like smouldering woods and incense, like settling into a four-poster bed. Can you tell I love this nose? Alongside sweeter flavours of toffee and vanilla, treacle and Kirsch, some lighter herbs flowered alongside the spices.

A beautiful, dry whisky. Served with the Cherry Popper, a rich fruit ice cream with cherry and dark chocolate. An absolutely wonderful pairing. Probably my favourite of the evening.

Whisky Ice Cream Summer SMWS

The heavily peated 53.223, ‘Angels & Demons’

Finally, ending with the 53.223, the ‘Angels & Demons’, 23 years, ex-bourbon barrel. You smell this one coming from a mile away. It screams Islay, a nose powerfully tarry, smoky, medicinal and iodine, with final traces of aniseed. The palate was a fascinating mix of honey and tropical fruit, as well as powerfully peated smoke and white pepper, with that similar medicinal flavour. If drunk through water, the whisky presents strong dried fruit notes, particularly apricot, and bit of honey.

Served alongside the Smoky Lavender Kiss ice cream, the lavender and Parma violets sheds the more medicinal flavours to contrast powerfully the peat, and present the fruits. An excellent combo.

Led through the course with the wonderful Sam MacDonald, exploring the whiskies and their ice cream pairings was easily accessible, and an informal, enjoyable experience – followed by relaxed conversation. Highly recommended – and 4 well aged whiskies and whisky ice creams at 15 quid seems like a pretty good deal to me!

Highly recommended to take advantage of this July! Grab a space while you can!

The Ice Dream Drams Scoop Sessions take place on 1st, 8th, 16th and 22nd of July.

Entry: £15.

The Scotch Malt Whisky Society

19 Greville Street,
London EC1N 8SQ

HỘP Vietnamese, Broadgate

We’re taking a slight detour from the cocktail world for a second peeps, purely because I’m convinced that there aren’t enough HOPs in London.

With Broadgate’s growing food scene to cater to city-workers at lunch breaks, HOP introduces the tried and true method of easily accessible food with speedy service associated with other lunch-break giants like Itsu or Wasabi – except, you know. HOP is *actually worth it* and doesn’t feel like a chore to get you through the day. Curries, Banh Mi, Pho, Congee – HOP has your lunch sorted.

Hop Vietnamese London Broadgate Food

Bar seating once you queue and grab your ready-boxes, a fairly extensive Vietnamese menu got the Hoodooist a 5 Spice Pork with Perilla, lemongrass and crispy shallots: a rather large box served in thirds – aromatic rice, shredded salad and a warming, spicy pork curry. I wasn’t sure what to expect at first, but fell for it instantly – the box was empty in a couple of minutes.

Hop Vietnamese London FoodHop Vietnamese London Broadgate Food

I was slightly less impressed with the Lemongrass Chicken Summer Roll that seemed to be bit too heavy on the rice than the chicken, but spirits were raised again by the fresh Apricot cupcake – with a creamy centre and fresh apricots, nom.

Hop Vietnamese London Broadgate Food

Viet Drip Coffee with condensed milk and Apricot cupcake

Finally, finishing off with the classic Viet Drip Coffee, served with condensed milk – a popular way to drink coffee in Vietnam – which you can get iced for summer! Take your time with the heavy drink, though – especially after all that food.

The above meal came to 12 quid, though an everyday lunch for the Hoodooist would be the 5 Spice Pork (at £6.50), and the Viet Coffee (£2.50) for a solid 9 quid.

In terms of quality and price, HOP has found a great balance that will be difficult to appreciate if skewed – where it is now, is just about right. If only there were more branches! Hopefully the future will bring more of them!

Hop Vietnamese London Broadgate Food