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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Discount Suit Company
29A Wentworth Street,
London E1 7TB