Barrio Central, Soho

Type of Bar: Bar/Restaurant, Mexican
Damage: ££
Ideal for: Food, Small Groups, Large Groups, Party

Soho classic Barrio Central is back! After being shut for renovation, the Poland Street hangout has reopened its door with a few new menu surprises!

Redecorated, the blue-green venue speckled with bright contrasting tiles is still serving Mexican Gulf inspired cocktails and bites, with a few twists here and there. Of course, downstairs is still a drinks-focused late night party hang out versus the dinner tables upstairs.

Barrio Central Soho Cocktail Bar London

Let’s get right to it! Over the Al Pastor tacos: Achiote marinated pork, cooked on the spit with slow roasted pineapple, white onions & coriander, with a spicy drizzling El Yucateco habanero sauce – a succulent, deeply flavourful bite with the sweet citrus of pineapple cutting right through – the Hoodooist and co. order a Wonky Donkey and Ol’ Dirty Bastard.

Barrio Central Soho Cocktail Bar London

L-R: Wonky Donkey, Ol’ Dirty Bastard

The Ol’ Dirty Bastard is a firm favourite here: Santa Teresa rum, Four Roses bourbon and orange – a host of fruit from the rum quickly gives way to the orange and honeyed notes of the bourbon, ending with a zesty length of orange peel. A fun, lively twist on an Old Fashioned.

The Wonky Donkey leaves quite a bit to be desired, though. Casco Viejo tequila, elderflower, ginger and lime lengthened with soda leaves a rather flat drink at the end. The tequila goes missing (I even forgot what spirit was in the drink), and all you have left is something vaguely sweet and citrusy.

Barrio Central Soho Cocktail Bar London

Soon after, the Ceviche Mixto provides a fresh mix of seafood in tiger’s milk, with avocado, crispy sweet potato & serrano chili – a fantastic, lighter seafood dish after the heavier Al Pastor and smoky Lamb Chilli tacos.

Alongside, the new cocktails, (COMING SOON!) arrive – new designs by bartender Sophie Mackay, her newly designed cocktails have a more modern swing to them.

Barrio Central Soho Cocktail Bar London

The Bossa Beleza brings in the fizz! Abelha Cachaca, jasmine, ginger, mint, topped up with prosecco – the sweet cachaca and the prosecco dominate this drink, with the jasmine trailing as a faint, lingering finish. Better than that though, while on the South American track, is the Cuba Lima: Pisco ABA, peach, lemon, egg white. A classic tart Pisco Sour with a peachy twist. A fun, reliable drink, with fresh egg white. Always a reliable classic.

Barrio Central Soho Cocktail Bar London
The Cactus and Three Cheese Melt Quesadilla come in, cool and fabulously textured. With it, a classic from the Barrio Central menu, the Rumshackle: Santa Teresa rum, orange curacao, pineapple is an incredibly sweet and fruity cocktail, bright with the tropical rum and the powerful pineapple. A beautiful presentation, however.

Barrio Central Soho Cocktail Bar London

The Rumshackle

Service is absolutely on point, swift and polite. What I am looking forward to is more from Sophie Mackay‘s coming menu which frankly outshines the older Barrio cocktail collection. True, the Ol’ Dirty Bastard is a good classic, but Bossa Beleza and Cuba Lima knock the Wonky Donky, Rumshackle and Hand Grenade HiBall out of the water. The drinks coming up seem to be more balanced, with more focus on the spirits’ innate flavour profile to shine through without being overwhelmed with juices.

Barrio Central knows what it does and does it well: providing a chilled out spot to relax with a group of friends, no fuss or stuffiness. A party spot in Soho we’re glad to have back.

 

Drinks: ** (Classic menu) – *** (menu Coming Soon)
Atmosphere: ***
Service: ****

 

Barrio Central

6 Poland Street, Soho,
London W1F 8PS

http://www.barriocentral.com/

 

W. M. Barker & Co., Bishopsgate

Type of BarBasement
Damage££
Ideal for: Date, Small Groups, Large GroupsAfter Work

 

Notorious for either its history or its name, the popular Dirty Dicks a stone’s throw from Liverpool Street Station has transformed its basement into an all new, all day cocktail bar and cafe.

Serving up toasties, coffee, craft beers and cocktails makes this a great ‘pop in anytime’ kinda spot, which is perfect for the City surroundings. Besides great coffee and bites, the cocktail menu takes a daring step with all the drinks being shrub-based. Shrubs, normally served as acidic aperitifs, can be sweetened dramatically depending on the infusion, and on the other ingredients in the cocktail.

WM Barker Dirty Dicks Bishopsgate City Cocktail bar

WM Barker & Co., goes for the sweeter. In fact, the whole cocktail list is made with primarily sweet drinks. Each cocktail is named after nearby area, marking the bar as the boundary between City and Shoreditch, attempting to appeal to both markets.

WM Barker Dirty Dicks Bishopsgate City Cocktail bar Poitin

#TheBanker

Beginning with the Bank #TheBanker, we find a unique combo of Absolut vodka, Sherry vinegar, Ban Poitin, champagne syrup, milk, cream, raisin bitters. Now this is bizarre – served in a milk bottle, the first sip is a massive wallop of a hundred flavours at once, till you go in for a second.

Sweet, yes, creamy, oh yes – this certainly is a dessert drink that begins with a pleasing sherry vinegar bite to cut through all the cream. After, it, literally, there is no other comparison: it’s liquid bread pudding.

Honestly, that is exactly it. It finishes off with a lingering champagne syrup.

For someone who normally does not go for sweet drinks, the Hoodooist was oddly charmed by this. Probably the most unique cocktail on the menu.

WM Barker Dirty Dicks Bishopsgate City Cocktail bar Rye Whiskey

#TheInvestor

To go in for something a bit more balanced after the Bank, we ordered the Bishopsgate #TheInvestor: Rittenhouse Rye, La Fee absinthe, peach, peach bitters, mint, sugar. Sounding much more classic Sazerac/Julep, the likes of something that would not be amiss at the Buffalo Bourbon Empire.

However, bitter it is not – I think this cocktail could do with stepping back on the sugar syrup, the bittersweet is followed by a caramelly thickness which one assumes is coming from a lot of sugar syrup. Absinthe aniseed slowly develops. I suppose I went in with a certain expectation of this drink, I’d like to see the spice of the rye playing more of a part.

WM Barker Dirty Dicks Bishopsgate City Cocktail bar gin

#ThePriest

St. Pauls #ThePriest really stands out from the menu with its sour profile: Whitley Neill gin, Green Chartreuse, maraschino, cucumber, cucumber shrub, lime juice, sugar, cucumber ribbon and cornichon. It’s wonderfully heavy on the Chartreuse, which is unmissable as first. Wonderfully tart, the sweetness of the cucumber and maraschino do set in, and if you pay close attention, the unique botanicals of the Whitley Neill are present in the background. A nice change from the sweetness so far.

WM Barker Dirty Dicks Bishopsgate City Cocktail bar Vodka Gin

Foreground: #ThePriest, #TheTrader
Background: #ThePhotographer

Hoxton #ThePhotographer is, unfortunately, a drink I don’t see myself ordering again. Sipsmith Gin, Sipsmith Sloe Gin, apricot liqueur, pomegranate shrub, lime juice, shortbread crumble rim. Sound wonderful, but really, the shortbread rim is the best part. The overwhelming sugar content of the cocktail, though, is choking.

WM Barker Dirty Dicks Bishopsgate City Cocktail bar Bourbon whiskey

However, all is not lost: The delightful Craig behind the bar will knock out one of the best Maker’s Mark Old Fashioneds if you ask nicely. A great way to polish off the evening, and change from the Hoxton.

WM Barker Dirty Dicks Bishopsgate City Cocktail bar Halloween

Tarot XIII – #Death

Finally, with Halloween just around the corner, WM Barker will be releasing a Halloween special on the day!

The Tarot XIII – #Death, comes with all the dark sweetness you’d expect of the holiday: Muddled sour cherries, sour cherry shrub, sherry, Kahlua, Port, and Tia Maria, topped off with Schweppes. I will have to admit, this cocktail does have a lot going on in terms of depth, with all the layers of dry fruit from the sherry, the coffee from the Kahlua, et al. But the unmissable, striking flavour is the intensely sour-sweet sour cherries. It is distinctly Halloween, and probably also has the sugar content of a bag of trick-or-treating candy.

WM Barker Dirty Dicks Bishopsgate City Cocktail bar

WM Barker & Co. is certainly a spot one can see becoming packed with people through the week. Time spent sat at the bar is fun with the company of Craig and team, and more than enough space at a bar that is deceptively larger than it first seems. There is amazing talent behind the bar, and a more varied menu will really showcase their skill.

The only thing that makes this a difficult spot to grade for drinks is, though there is obvious thought going into the cocktails, they’re all on the sweet side, even the ones that lean away like the St. Pauls. Luckily, bartenders will make classics on request, but one feels it should be something that is addressed in the menu.

A fun night out, as long as you know what you are going for!

 

Drinks: ** (variety) – *** (quality)
Atmosphere: ****
Service: ****

 

W. M. Barker & Co.

Basement of Dirty Dicks,
202 Bishopsgate,
London, EC2M 4NR.

http://www.wmbarkerandco.uk/

Aberlour Whisky Tasting @ Phonica Records, Soho

Soho’s Phonica Records has become bit of a liquor lover’s hotspot lately: earlier this month it hosted the LCW World Class Bar, and this week, home to multi-award-winning single malt whisky distillery, Aberlour.

How does whisky figure into Soho’s iconic vinyl store? Aberlour has worked with collector and restorer Bill Bollman to bring to Phonica one of the last two working early 20th Century Voice-O-Graphs!

A piece of living history, “The booth in question has been extensively restored by Bill, and the wood panelled sides and interior are steeped in history- like casks of whisky maturing in a warehouse.”

The vintage 1947 Voice-O-Graph is far more than simple novelty, or an archaic piece of recording history, but an item made from experience, the walls soaked with the memories of those who have used it.”

Booths once house in arcades and diners across the USA, the Voice-O-Graph records a minute long message in the booth to print recordings of everything from simple messages, toasts, birthday messages – to more poignant prayers and love sent to children at war overseas, with the most common war-recordings being of variations of ‘You Are My Sunshine’. History, memories both joyful and moving, emanated from the still functioning machinery that once were common in North American scenery.

Aberlour Phonica Records Voiceograph Whisky Scotch

Before we have a closer look at the Voice-O-Graph, Aberlour International Ambassador, Alex Robertson, and spirits writer, Neil Ridley, walk us through the Aberlour expressions that scored an impressive gold medal each at the International Spirits Challenge 2014.

Aberlour Phonica Records Voiceograph Whisky Scotch

After a spectacularly crafted Old Fashioned, the tasting begins: a multisensory experience, Aberlour’s night at Phonica paired each whisky to vinyl tracks.

Beginning with the Aberlour 12 year (Double Cask Matured), a light, red apple nose opens to a palate of similar fruit along with classic toffee, followed by a wash of rich chocolate – ending with a warm cinnamon and ginger finish. A very Autumnal, fitting, dram this season.

After that delightful whisky, the 16 year (Double Cask Matured, gold medal winner at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition 2015) was paired with the gorgeous vocals and choir of ‘Shine On’ by Tallulah Rendall. A creamier whisky, its nose is packed with raisins and even a floral character – a fantastic balance of the double wood casks. The palate is smoother than the 12 year, full with plum and raisin sherried flavours balanced against spicy, floral flavours.

Aberlour Phonica Records Voiceograph Whisky Scotch

Now the 18 year (Double Cask Matured, gold medal winner at the 2014 International Wine and Spirit Competition) is a massive step up from the 16 year (for the Hoodooist anyway): A gorgeous nose of butterscotch, vanilla icecream, toffee and peaches. The palate opens with cream and stone fruit, and gradually unveils darker, heavier flavours with oak and leather, with a vein of honey running through – ending with a long, warm, sugared finish.

Not expecting that beautiful whisky to be outdone, one was surprised what a stunner the final Aberlour A’bunadh (double gold winner at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition 2015) was, served along with the resonating voice of Johnny Cash. A classic sherry-heavy whisky, the Oloroso butts impart those orange and Xmas spices notes to the nose. The palate is indulgent, and wintery – dark chocolate, cherries, lots of dry fruit and warm spice. Being cask strength, the finish is powerful and lasting, bittersweet and spicy. A favourite. Adore this whisky.

Concluding the tasting, musician Johnny Flynn takes to the Voice-O-Graph to record an upcoming single, printed onto disc with the Voice-O-Graph’s distinct graininess and vintage nostalgia (a song I’m looking forward to hearing again).

Entering the Voice-O-Graph himself, the Hoodooist is overcome with a feeling of nostalgia for a time he’d never known himself (heavens, this sounds so pretentiously Lynch) – but the sense of everyone that had been in that booth, recording everything from a birthday song to a prayer to hear their son come back home from the war was overwhelming. Especially after hearing a message from a mother to dispatched son just moments earlier.

A unique, unmissable experience that recording on one’s phone cannot be compared to.

In a few moments, holding the recorded disc in one hand, and a brightly sherried Aberlour expression in the other, this was an experience he was glad to be a part of – and you can too!

The Voice-O-Graph has taken up residency at Phonica Records this October 2015, where consumers have the opportunity to enjoy a dram of Aberlour 12 Year Old as they record their experiences on the Voice-o-Graph instore at Phonica Records during the following times for as long as daily vinyl stocks last:

  • 22nd – 23rd & 29th – 30th October from 5pm -7pm
  • 24th & 31st October from 4pm – 6pm

Fruit, chocolate, spice in a dram, inside a piece of living history – this is an experience that absolutely cannot be missed this Autumn season. Enjoy what is #MadeFromExperience with the Voice-O-Graph and Aberlour Whisky this October at Phonica Records, Soho.

Your future vinyl-owning-self will thank you.

Phonica Records

51 Poland St, Soho,
London W1F 7LZ

http://www.phonicarecords.com/

The Cocktail Trading Company, Smithfield

Type of Bar: Tiny, Basement, Quirky
Damage: ££
Ideal for: Date, After Work

 

The boys from CTC, Soho have done it again!

The Cocktail Trading Company Development Bar & Table (can we just call it CTC? Cool, okay), now a bustling hotspot in the heart of Soho, has branched out into cocktail-starved Smithfield, under the popular Ask For Janice on Long Lane.

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The basement is tiny, if you’re lucky you might bag a couch (book in advance!) – and I recommend you find a good seat, because time can fly here! (Very) Dim-lit and cosy with a strongly Twin-Peaks-cabin-vibe, the playlist really makes the venue. Well, that and the incredible drinks and service provided by the Olly/Andy/Elliot trinity.

It’s probably worth mentioning that with 7 cocktail awards between them, it is difficult to go wrong with a good old classic here. About half the menu is classics, but the team will happily go off menu if you ask.

Cocktail Trading Company London Smithfield

The Brasso

The menu here will be the same as the CTC in Soho, so the Hoodooist decided to go for some uncharacteristically longer cocktails.

Beginning with the Brasso: Stoli Vodka, ginger and orange brew, lime juice and soda, is a light, bright, spicy long drink served with chocolate wafer and candied ginger. Perhaps spicy isn’t the right word, but spiced – the ginger doesn’t have a strong kick, but a fun pep in its step. Simplicity does well for this cocktail.

Cocktail Trading Company London Smithfield

The Daisy De Santiago

The Daisy De Santiago really exhibits the characteristics of Bacardi Heritage, with Lemon n Lime sherbet and Green Chartreuse. The tropical fruit and pepperiness cut through the cocktail quite easily, but immediately followed by a bombardment of citrus and the bitter herbal Green Chartreuse. It’s certainly a speciality cocktail with its intense sour and bitter flavours. Something very nostalgic here, something about 90s candy.

Cocktail Trading Company London Smithfield

The Sherry Cobbler

Twisting an old classic, the Sherry Cobbler adds spiced syrup to the mix of sherry/sugar/citrus, and garnishes with berries. The spiced syrup gives us warm winter spices, adding dimension to the otherwise primarily sweet and well-known classic. If you want to turn the sugariness up to 11, you can always go for the much more desserty Chocolate Flip #1, bringing together Bacardi 8 yr rum, cacao-infused Chartreuse, Tawny Port and pistachio ice cream. With a deeper, darker cacao flavour, this is an adult’s dessert cocktail, with the rum’s winter spice and lush mouthfeel, and the bitter hits of the Chartreuse over pistachio ice cream for that smoothness.

Cocktail Trading Company London Smithfield

The Chocolate Flip #1

With a very similar design, set up and cocktail list as it’s Soho sister, CTC Smithfield also keeps that distinctive attention to service that we loved about its predecessor. A welcome venue in the Smithfield area, and nice change from the after work boozers. I’d expect booking will be necessary.

 

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

 

The Cocktail Trading Company

Basement @ Ask for Janice, 50-52 Long Lane,
London, EC1A 9EJ.

http://www.thecocktailtradingco.co.uk/

 

 

London Chocolate Week 2015 Cocktails!

You though London Chocolate Week would take a break from your liver after Cocktail Week?
Hah.

London Chocolate Week 2015 elebrates the world of fine chocolate from 12th to 18th October, 2015. The week culminates with The Chocolate Show London at Olympia National Hall from 16th to 18th October, bringing the best of the industry together all under one roof.

Hundreds of events are expected this Chocolate Week around the UK, with the country’s top chocolatiers and chocolate companies, as well as hotels, bars and restaurants celebrating by hosting talks, tastings, demonstrations and sampling, as well as creating exclusive products, new launches, offers, chocolate meals, cocktails and recipes using some of the best chocolate brands from around the world.

What you didn’t guess was bars like Opium and Jinjuu were offering limited edition Choctails for this week only!
Here are some of the recipes you can try out at home!

Opium’s Choctails:

The Belize Averna Flip

The Belize Averna Flip

Belize-Averna Flip 
25ml Averna
25ml Fair Belize 5 Year Rum
25ml Sierra Nevada pale ale syrup (equal parts Sierra Nevada Pale Ale and sugar)
1 free-range egg
 
Shake all ingredients with ice and strain into a tasting glass.  Garnish with fresh nutmeg and serve with a bar of Divine milk chocolate.
The Jackie Brown

The Jackie Brown

 
Jackie Brown
(adapted from a 2006 recipe by Rich Hunt at The Player, Soho)
 
50ml Belize Averna 5 Year Old Rum
7.5ml maple syrup
5ml D.O.M. Benedictine
2 dashes angostura bitters
 
Stir in a double Old Fashioned glass with cubed ice.  Garnish with an orange twist,  grate dark chocolate over the top and serve with the rest of the bar.
Jinjuu’s Choctails:
The Bounty Hunter

The Bounty Hunter

Bounty Hunter to Kill some Rum 
35ml FAIR. Belize Rum 5yo
15ml Dark Mozart
20ml Coco Lopez …

25 Double cream
There you have it! Prepare at home, or grab some at Opium and Jinjuu till October 18th!!
Happy London Chocolate Week everyone!

TICKET GIVEAWAY! License to Escape with Octopus Inc!

Another giveaway, guys!

Need something exciting to do for the weekend?

Highball Hoodoo has just the exercise in villainy for you!

Working alongside Yelp! London, Highball Hoodoo has TWO tickets to giveaway for 16th October!

Escape Game Giveaway Win Octopus Inc

OCTOPUS Inc. (the Organised Consortium of Troublemakers and Other Perpetrators of Underhand Sneakiness Incorporated) are currently hiring new henchmen as part of a recruitment drive – and are looking for the best of the best – or should we say the worst of the worst – to join our team and cause chaos throughout the land.

Your acts of sneakiness have been noted and we are impressed with your audacity and cunning, but do not worry my villainous friends, your secrets are safe with us as long as you report to your prospective new Evil MasterMind in his underground lair for your six basic aptitude tests.

Six Rooms – Six Tests – You must escape them all to complete the mission within 30 minutes. There will also be an optional outdoor mission courtesy of CITY DASH should you wish to accept. Can you make it out in time? Or alive? We shall see.

Ultimate Respect and Prizes in store for the fastest teams of the night.

To WIN, all you have to do is follow Highball Hoodoo on Twitter at@HighballHoodoo and retweet this post:

And the winner will be announced on the 15th of October!

And that’s all you have to do for a chance to win VIP tickets to Octopus Inc.’s LICENSE TO ESCAPE!

Perhaps you can attend the training in your finest henchman attire. And be ready for anything. Things may get a little… dicey.

— EXTRA INFORMATION —

– Over 18’s only

– The game In total will take around 60 minutes to complete – you may need to wait for your time slot. They’ll be a free drink on arrival and bar area to hang out in with live leader board.

– They’ll be music, indoor and outdoor games as well as a cash bar, plus drinks from Double Dutch Drinks.

– At least one of your team will need a fully charged smart phone with the Yelp App for parts of the evening. If you don’t have it, make sure to download it now.

Best of luck, Tweeters!

Day SIX: The 24 Hour Bar Build!

The contest London Cocktail Week was leading up to!

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24 HOUR BAR BUILD, SHOREDITCH – 10th October

N&C Showrooms, 3-10 Shoreditch High Street, London, E1 6PG

4 teams, 4 cities, 24 bartenders, 24 hours. Award winning bartending teams from around the world – London, New York, Paris, Singapore – come together to build 4 bars in 24 hours, competing to be crowned the World’s Best.

Team London (WOO!) will be led by Richard Woods of Duck & Waffle, working with Patrón Tequila – against New York (Leo Robitschek of NoMad, with Grey Goose Vodka), Paris (Carina Soto Velasquez of Candelaria, with Bombay Sapphire Gin), and Singapore (Joel Fraser of the Cufflink Club, with Bacardi Rum).

From concept to cocktails in 24hrs, which city will you crown the World’s Best?

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These 24 star bartenders knocked it out of the ballpark with their incredible bar concepts and cocktail menus, from first entry, let’s see what we got with Home Team London!

#LONDONCALLING

London 24 Hour Bar Build London Cocktail Week

London’s design seemed to have two distinct influences, one being the Team Leader, Rich Woods’ Duck & Waffle bar, with it’s London skyline in the bar’s ‘window’; the other being the outer barrio feel with Mexican influences with team’s sponsor, Patrón Tequila. The bar, with it’s atmosphere and music, captured your modern London bar scene, and patrons seemed to sink right into their comfort zone. Familiar, with twisted classics for drinks, with London’s sudden developing love for agave spirits.

A drink that stood out was Nathan Shearer (of Callooh Callay), knocking out fantastic Negronis using Patrón Reposado, Martini Rosso, and Amaro. Almost a deadringer for the classic. One of the Hoodooist’s favourite drinks of the night.

London Patron 24 Hour Bar Build London Cocktail Week

Team London’s Negroni!

Not to be outdone, Team New York set up a massive stall up west.

#PaulsBoutiqueNYC

NYC 24 Hour Bar Build London Cocktail Week

Again, two major influences here: Graffiti and hip hop calling up the infamous 8os for that distinct NYC feel, and the sleek, minimalist bar for Grey Goose vodka’s style. A fun gambling alley next door to double or nothing your drinks token with a game of dice amps up the bar’s seediness with lightwork of NYC’s longtime love affair with vodka.

Drinks were a lot quicker to dish out here, the Block Party gave us Grey Goose and watermelon juice; and the Kool Hero Aid gave us Grey Goose le Citron, St. Germain, and Kool Aid for a sweet, fruity long drink.

NYC Grey Goose 24 Hour Bar Build London Cocktail Week

NYC’s mixers

Standing up to NYC’s minimalism, Singapore goes all out and throws us into the ring!

#TeamSingapore!

Singapore 24 Hour Bar Build London Cocktail Week

From boxing arcade games, to a straight up boxing ring, complete with bartenders in costume for a fight, inspiration obviously comes from Singapore’s rich boxing industry. Certainly a fun set up, with drinks coming pre-bottled in themed glasses.

Sweeter and juicier fitness themed drinks from Bacardi rum included the Bacardi-Ade: Bacardi Superior, Martini Rosso, tea, citrus, pineapple and ‘ringside electrolyte bitters’; to the Ringside Breezer: Bacardi Superior, dry maraschino, orange, lime, ‘easy breezy’.

Singapore Bacardi 24 Hour Bar Build London Cocktail Week

Team Singapore’s themed cocktails!

Finally, a major contender of the evening was Team Paris, going all out to cross the Channel with Francophone flair:

#LeGrandBleu

Paris 24 Hour Bar Build London Cocktail Week

Bringing out the disco ball, turning up the French hip hop and the wearing the Tricolore, Le Grand Bleu was winning points with tophatted host pouring champagne for everyone throughout the evening. This team’s design went all out with the pizzazz and flashes of sponsor Bombay Sapphire Gin’s signature blue.

The cocktails were, the Hoodooist must admit, his favourite. *distant yelling of ‘traitor!’*
The Like a Virgin twisted the Dry Martini with spice mix and olive for a spicy, lip-smacking short drink to take your time with; and the excellent Gold Digger; Bombay Sapphire gin, cognac, pandan, sesame, cordial, Amontillado, sherry.

Initially caramelly sweet with powerful sherry and cordial, it gives way to the sesame and herbal gin, finally ending with an effervescent pandan finish.

Bombay Sapphire Paris 24 Hour Bar Build London Cocktail Week

The Parisian offerings, Like a Virgin on the left, the Gold Digger right.

The night wore on, more tokens exchanged at each bar until tokens were to be counted to see which of the 4 cities outranked the others, and lo and behold, Team London’s #LondonCalling once again leads the world’s bar scene!

Were we all a bit biased? Probably. Do we regret it? Highly doubt it.

Still, that Gold Digger tho.

Paris Bombay Sapphire 24 Hour Bar Build London Cocktail Week

Alright! That’s our recap of Day Six of London Cocktail Week 2015! I do hope it may have helped you one way or the other, dear readers, on our quest through the most magical week of the year.

Remember to check out Highball Hoodoo every morning of London Cocktail Week for more reviews of the LCW cocktail offerings, parties and events!

Get #YourDailyDoseOfHoodoo each morning from 5th to 11th October!
*Tune in tomorrow for our recap of The best of the week!*

Day FIVE: Soho Weekend!

Welcome one and all to the recap of the fifth day of London Cocktail Week 2015! Wield a red or white wristband and enjoy the discounts/events that LCW has to offer!

This year the Hoodooist will be bringing you #YourDailyDoseOfHoodoo, a daily review of each day of London Cocktail Week ’15.

Today we look at October 9th: Where the Hoodooist and friends tackled Soho!

London Cocktail Week Green Bar Hotel Cafe Royal

The Aged American

1.30PM:

The Green Bar at Hotel Cafe Royal is always a good place to start!

The green tiled surrounds of the venue and the gorgeous bar in the centre offer an Aged American: Maker’s Mark bourbon, 20 year old port, Briottet figue liqueur, egg white. A great drink to start with this early. A balance of sweet and citrus, slightly velvety, easy to down. Vanilla and light notes of rye spice, but stronger orange and fig – bit of toffee.

A great drink if you want to start off with something light.

London Cocktail Week World Class Bar

L-R: The Old Fashioned Date Night; Hops & Glory

3.30PM:

After lunch at the Brasserie Zedel, the Hoodooist finally makes it to the The World Class London Cocktail Week Hub – hosting masterclasses and being hosted by several World Class bartenders each day – this is a must-see of the week.

Two of the cocktails on offer were the Hops & Glory, and the Old Fashioned Date Night:

The Hops & Glory provided Tanqueray 10 gin, shaken with London IPA syrup, Italian vermouth and lemon – for a crisp, but exceedingly smooth and crisp Martini. The full body of the Tanqueray 10 and the malty sweetness of the IPA syrup make this a winning citrus cocktail that even non-Martini drinkers absolutely must try.

The Old Fashioned Date Night  brings Ron Zacapa rum, popcorn and cola infusion, chocolate bitters and a date garnish – After the first sweet hit from the Ron Zacapa, there is an immediate procession through cola, then a long moment of popcorn, and intense bitterness. This drink might tend toward a lot more bitter than expected about reading the menu – and demands time be taken with it.

Off to the Blind Pig next door!

London Cocktail Week Blind Pig Social Eating House

L-R: The Canhattan; the Monkey Shoulder Snakebite

4.30PM:

The Blind Pig at the Social Eating House gets busy. Fast. Getting early or managing to book a table is best advice. Luckily, 4.30 is 15 minutes before the crowd roll in, and the bar suddenly goes from quiet to bustling.

There are two drinks on offer here:

The Canhattan offers Monkey Shoulder whisky, sweet vermouth, Angostura bitters and ‘canned maraschino cherry’. Expecting the unexpected from any Gareth Evans concoction, the Hoodooist was still surprised by the presentation – not over the top, but still fun! The cocktail’s beautiful nose thanks to the Monkey Shoulder’s winter spices and malt – palate of cloves, berries, dried fruit, honey, and then orange from the vermouth make this a fantastic Manhattan that is neither too sweet nor bitter, with a bit of kick.

The Monkey Shoulder Snakebite was a surprise! Monkey Shoulder whisky, pear liqueur, ale reduction, cider syrup, lemon juice, citrusy, malty and velvety, sweet. Bursts of spice and butter come clean through the cider with a fresh fruit finish. A long and heavy drink, and certainly an enjoyable one.

London Cocktail Week The Vault Milroy's Soho

The Prohibition

6PM:

Today’s drinks have been mostly light, citrusy, sweet, and usually involving some hop-related ingredient – so it was time for the Hoodooist to return to his roots with The Prohibition by The Vault Soho.

Whisky, dry vermouth, homemade Amer Picon, cherry liqueur, and orange bitters make this a bitter, but addictive cocktail. Rye spice and dried fruits is cut through with liquorice and bitterness before being followed but a wave of cherry liqueur and ending with the orange bitters. If you enjoy them strong and bitter (with a hint of fruity sweetness), this is the one for you. Great job by the Vault.

London Cocktail Week Shackfuyu

The Comin’atcha

7PM:

So the food at Shackfuyu is fantastic. After spectacular okonomiyaki styled prawn toast and smoked eel tostada, we turned to the Matcha Comin’atcha: Gin infused with matcha powder, lime and cucumber garnish.

I wanted to like this drink, since it was a refreshing polarity to the previous one – but the matcha doesn’t really do much to make it different from a gin and tonic. In any case, it’s a great 5 pound G&T, and worth popping by as a break with their amazing bar snacks.

London Cocktail Week Percy and Founders

The I Bee-long To You

8:15PM:

And so we find ourselves at Percy and Founders.

Something about this place, is reminiscent of ‘That Girl‘ in high school. The one you and your friends suddenly think of in conversation, but for some reason you just cannot for the life of you remember her name. Or her hair colour. Or if she was in your classes. Arrested Development fans might know her as Egg.

Egg was also responsible for the I Bee-long To You: Glenfarclas 15 whisky, Drambuie, lemon juice, honey, English Bitter Manzanilla.

I can’t think of a way to describe this cocktail without being disrespectful.

ON THE PLUS SIDE: Day Five has been dominated by a wide variety of cocktails: from the sweet and smooth at the Green Bar and Blind Pig, to the deep and bitter at the Vault and the World Class London Cocktail Week Hub, to the bright and refreshing at Shackfuyu. Soho has outdone itself this year with what it has on offer, just make sure to make reservations!

Tonight, the incredible international contest with bartending teams from across the globe, pitting city against city at the International 24 Hour Bar Build! Tune in for that recap tomorrow!

Alright! That’s our recap of Day Five of London Cocktail Week 2015! I do hope it may have helped you one way or the other, dear readers, on our quest through the most magical week of the year.

Remember to check out Highball Hoodoo every morning of London Cocktail Week for more reviews of the LCW cocktail offerings, parties and events!

Get #YourDailyDoseOfHoodoo each morning from 5th to 11th October!
*Tune in tomorrow for our coverage of the International 24 Hour Bar Build!*

Day FOUR: Dalstonbound!

Welcome one and all to the recap of the fourth day of London Cocktail Week 2015! Wield a red or white wristband and enjoy the discounts/events that LCW has to offer!

This year the Hoodooist will be bringing you #YourDailyDoseOfHoodoo, a daily review of each day of London Cocktail Week ’15.

Today we look at October 8th: Where the Hoodooist and friends tackled Dalston and Whitechapel!

London Cocktail Week Original Sin

The Wanderer

7:45PM:

We already know that the Hoodooist loves Original Sin. A quieter evening, seated at the bar; the LCW offering, The Wanderer is presented: Kilchoman whisky, amontillado sherry, lemon, orange, pomegranate molasses.

My, this is beautiful. Balanced, toward sweet, but not sugary. Strikes a fantastic partnership with what feels like the Kilchoman Machir Bay. Maritime brine and smoke cut through the pomegranate molasses and light orange, all tempered by the amontillado.

A well-balanced drink that doesn’t patronise the drinker. A must try this cocktail week.

London Cocktail Week Ruby's

The Tropical Italian

8:30PM:

Finding oneself at Ruby’s Dalston, service is once again welcoming and warm.

As in our full review of Ruby’s, classics are very well done, but house cocktails tend to falter into extremes. The Tropical Italian (aka, Mambo Italiano): Campari, mango, chinotto, topped with prosecco, is no different.

The chinotto isn’t communicated well, the Campari and prosecco dominate the cocktail, with a bit of mango coming through between. Sadly, this cocktail went unfinished since the Campari was overpowering when combo’d with mango (this is coming from a Negroni fan, for the record).

Hope this was just a one-time mishap – otherwise atmosphere and service and fantastic.

London Cocktail Week Mussel Men

The Golf Gin Fizz

9:30PM:

Chomping through some excellent scallops, the Golf Gin Fizz is served at Mussel Men: Eden Mill Golf gin for a classic Gin Fizz.

A long and refreshing gin fizz, thoroughly enjoyable on a hot day. The lemongrass coming through might tip it over to the sweet side, in which case ask to mind the sugar.

Make sure to nip in for the seafood! Mussel Men will be hosting several events through the week for this LCW #ScottishInvasion series.

London Cocktail Week 46 and Mercy

The Blessed Thistle

10:30PM:

Down in the basement at 46 & Mercy (make sure to say hi to Mat), another favourite of the evening was being served: the Blessed Thistle brought together Ketel One vodka, Cocchi Americano vermouth washed with smoked pork fat & thyme, sherry vinegar.

Spectacular, everything is taken into consideration here (well, the nose can be a bit strong, if you want to nitpick). A fascinating twist on a vodka Martini, the washing lends to the cocktail a velvety smoothness and ease of drinking, as well as depth and herbaceous quality that goes to well with the floral Ketel One vodka. The sherry vinegar is a little bit of cheeky kick. An ambitious, and very successful, drink.

Another must visit, and very close to the Spitalfield Cocktail Village if needed.

If seated on the reclining chairs, don’t lean forward. Really.

London Cocktail Week Apples and Pears

The #borntoparty

11PM:

Okay, Apples and Pears wins point for atmosphere: aftar admiring the artwork, Hoodooist and co just became drunkenly absorbed into the classic Tom & Jerry and Merrie Melodies cartoons on the big screen. Because why the hell not.

The fun vibe extends to the cocktail, the #borntoparty: Courvoisier VS cognac, orange liqueur, Cocchi Americano vermouth, blackcurrant and vanilla tea syrup. Coming with a ‘polaroid’ of, um, Napoleon (give it a second).

Serving a cold drink in a balloon glass is a long time peeve of the Hoodooist’s, but if sticking to the theme, might as well go all the way. The drink has a bit too much going on, though. The blackcurrant and vanilla do come through, but once all the flavours mingle, it starts to taste like a liquid Curly Wurly – which, if you enjoy, you’ll love this.

Definitely a dessert cocktail, with a syrupy texture, and caramelly flavour.

 

1AM:

The Hoodooist has to stay up and type, taking on Soho needs an early morning.

But first, more pizza.

5 bars today, and we see some stand out winners like Original Sin and 46 & Mercy, and evidence that sometimes classics are classics with good reason with Mussel Men. Great selection.

 

Alright! That’s our recap of Day Four of London Cocktail Week 2015! I do hope it may have helped you one way or the other, dear readers, on our quest through the most magical week of the year.

Remember to check out Highball Hoodoo every morning of London Cocktail Week for more reviews of the LCW cocktail offerings, parties and events!

Get #YourDailyDoseOfHoodoo each morning from 5th to 11th October!
*Tune in tomorrow for our coverage of Soho and Fitzrovia!*

Day THREE: Mayfair March!

Welcome one and all to the recap of the third day of London Cocktail Week 2015! Wield a red or white wristband and enjoy the discounts/events that LCW has to offer!

This year the Hoodooist will be bringing you #YourDailyDoseOfHoodoo, a daily review of each day of London Cocktail Week ’15.

Today we look at October 7th: Where the Hoodooist and friends tackled Mayfair and Marylebone!

London Cocktail Week Mayfair Whisk

The Original Sin

4PM:

The Sheraton Park Lane Hotel’s Smith and Whistle is a relaxed hotel joint with a distinct love for Irish whiskey, and Jameson’s in particular.

Besides their Caskmate’s cocktail, they were even hosting a raffle to win a bottle before going home! But their Original Sin is not to be a missed. A beautiful crimson cocktail topped with a spicy stout foam. The first sip through the foam brings out flavours of warm spices from  cinnamon, nutmeg and star anise – until you get to the cocktail of Jameson’s Caskmates whiskey, red wine reduction, and more of that homemade spiced syrup.

Expect to find an immediate hit of light warm spices (enhanced by the burning cinnamon garnish), the wine reduction’s dark fruits and raspberry, finally ending with the Caskmate’s Madeira, fresh and honeyed fruit, and vanilla. A beautiful cocktail – even the Hoodooist didn’t mind its sweetness.

Smith and Whistle raised the bar high before continuing on!

London Cocktail Week Mayfair Whisk

The Sakura Highball

5.30PM:

The ROKA Mayfair kept up the standard so far with the long Sakura Highball. Nikka From the Barrel whisky met Cocchi’s Barolo Chinato vermouth, Sakura cherry blossom tincture, topped off with a plum soda.

The nose is bittersweet and tempting, the first sip immediately brings out the Nikka’s fruit, winter spices and toffee along with the plum soda, before quickly setting onto a long wave of the Barolo Chinato’s orange peel, cloves and dried fruits with the bitter kick, ending on a bed of cherry blossom.

With excellent service and chat from the bartenders, beautiful surrounds, and bar snacks that are devoured in moments, this is an excellent highball drink, highly recommended.

London Cocktail Week Mayfair

The Amor y Amargo

6.30PM:

Into the winding side streets that lead us into the busy lane housing Cartizze, which seems more at home in a hotel than the lane that houses it, the Amor y Amargo is served at the table. Being rather busy, it took its time, the sweet drink caused a little debate.

Amaretto liqueur, Cynar, apricot liqueur, vanilla sugar, lemon, topped with prosecco. Some enjoyed the drink, the Hoodooist couldn’t taste much over the amaretto, lemon and a hint of apricot. It seemed to lack dimension, and blurred into a one-trick drink. Of course, if this is one’s style, a sweet tooth might enjoy it.

When a friend at the table ordered a second, they were informed that only the first drink is subject to the LCW 5 pound offer. Something *no other bar so far in the history of the 5 years of cocktail week* has inflicted on wristband wearers.

London Cocktail Week Mayfair Whisky

The Sesame Street

7PM:

Next door, the Cartizze’s sister bar, Mews of Mayfair, offered the Sesame Street: Glenmorangie 10yr infused with apricots, sesame oil, topped with egg white and sesame seeds.

A major improvement from next door, the spicy nose is refreshing, the palate is instantly hit with sesame, followed by vanilla and bold fruits of the whisky, retreating once again into sesame and ending with bright apricots.

An enjoyable drink and a huge improvement, with multifaceted flavours, though a friend retorted, “I keep thinking of chicken yakitori.”

London Cocktail Week Mayfair Cognac

The Golden Shuffle

8PM:

Recently opened dinner and shisha bar, Noir W1, next door to Selfridges, serving up the Golden Shuffle: Courvoisier Exclusif cognac, yuzu juice, lemon, cocoa nib infused white truffle honey, egg white and black walnut bitters.

Tastes like a regular Sidecar.

Somewhat detectable honey.

London Cocktail Week Mayfair vodka

The Absolutly Dirty

10PM:

After a bite and some key lime pie in Marylebone, Hoodooist and co. find themselves at an old haunt that once had a long and beautifully complex menu.

Purl offered up the Absolutely Dirty for LCW: Absolut Elyx vodka, sherry (fino, perhaps?), capers and black olive bitters.

Only approach if Dirty Martini fan. After the first kick the face with black olives, you will feel a sharp slice of the sherry, followed immediately after by the black olives and a hint of caper.

The Hoodooist, a major fan of the bone-dry gin Martini, not so much a fan of this. At least didn’t enjoy the wincing with each sip.

As aforementioned: Only approach if Dirty Martini fan.

 

Midnight:

The Hoodooist remembers there are at least three more days to go, and has a lie down.

With a really high standard set up by the Smith and Whistle, and Roka, and a fun twist at Mews of Mayfair, the Mayfair March was a day of high highs, and low lows. Some, like the Cartizze and Purl, have targeted very specific audience palates that the reader must consider.

 

Alright! That’s our recap of Day Three of London Cocktail Week 2015! I do hope it may have helped you one way or the other, dear readers, on our quest through the most magical week of the year.

Remember to check out Highball Hoodoo every morning of London Cocktail Week for more reviews of the LCW cocktail offerings, parties and events!

Get #YourDailyDoseOfHoodoo each morning from 5th to 11th October!
*Tune in tomorrow for our coverage of Dalston and Whitechapel!*