Winter Cocktail Menu @ Blue Boar Bar, St. James

Type of Bar: Hotel
Damage: £ – ££
Ideal for: Small Groups, Large Groups, Food

 

Winter is upon us! And the Blue Boar Bar at the Conrad St. James has released a menu of 4 winter cocktails to enjoy along with their Christmas Bites food menu.

The sprawling Blue Boar rings with Xmas music across a gorgeous wooden bar, deep blue surrounds and quirky musical-instruments-turned-lamps decor. It might seem crowded on a weekend, but there is more space and privacy than there is at first glance.

Winter Cocktails Blue Boar Bar Conrad

The limited edition Winter Cocktails take a turn for the sweet, but the Jingle Bell Rock is great for something just a bit sweet without needing a dentist.

A combo of Havana 7 Rum, apple liqueur, cinnamon syrup, splash of blackberry puree create a cold cocktail where the vanilla and honey of the rum and blackberries dominate the palate, with the cinnamon dancing gleefully in the background without taking over the drink. A spicy-sweet apple finish to a well-balanced drink where the flavours marry rather well. Probably the best on the Winter cocktail menu!

Winter Cocktails Blue Boar Bar Conrad

The Jingle Bell Rock

The Santa Baby brings together vodka, strawberry liqueur and a dash of cream to create what is essentially a spiked strawberry milkshake! Chilly, with a fun glitter rim, the sweet creamy cocktail is fairly sneaky in terms of alcohol, but is rather thick. Though a friend was downing these pretty quickly, I myself ran only about halfway through before realising it was dessert – this will determine who on the table has a sweet tooth!

Winter Cocktails Blue Boar Bar Conrad

The Santa Baby

A batch of truffle chips for something savoury and salty before moving on to the third cocktail: the Hard Candy Christmas – vodka, chocolate liqueur, Disaronno amaretto, double cream. Personally, this one doesn’t quite work. The first sip is a punch in the face with chocolate liqueur, thick, before ending with slightly overpowering amaretto. The brand of liqueurs has that faux-chocolate flavouring to it which I myself found to be bit a of a turn-off – but hey, there must be someone we all know who’d enjoy it! I feel when put up against the rest of the menu, it is lacking.

Finally, ending with a simple Warm Winter Cider (at a fab 4 pounds!), a hot, slightly spiced and citrus cider to warm the bones before braving the cold outside again.

Winter Cocktails Blue Boar Bar Conrad

The Hard Candy Christmas

Service at the Blue Boar is fantastic, always swift, polite, and you don’t really have to worry about being checked up on – making it a discreet getaway during the winter season for an xmassy cocktail – and plus points if you hide yourself away in the private room to cosy up these winter months.

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

 

Blue Boar Bar @ The Conrad St. James

22-28 Broadway, St. James
London SW1H 0BH

http://conradhotels3.hilton.com/

 

 

Advertisements

Our Black Heart, Camden Town

Type of Bar: Live Music, Alternative
Damage: ££
Ideal for: Party, Live Music, Small Groups, Large Groups, Food

 

Time for something a little different.

With The Queer Alternative LGBTQ charity organisation hosting a gig featuring ace cock-rock-parody cover band The Dykeness in the venue upstairs, The Hoodooist thought it was time to return to his alternative teen years in Camden Town after a long while.

Really – the issue is more he can’t find a place to listen to Judas Priest with a decent Old Fashioned but THINGS ARE DIFFERENT AT THE BLACK HEART.

Our Black Heart Camden Town The Dykeness Cocktails

Because they’re awesome.

For all intents and purposes, Our Black Heart is a classic metal bar: nestled in a back alley, black walls, grime, neon signs over a pool table – but some core differences do stand out: for one, a larger selection of spirits than at most alt bars you’d imagine (QuiQuiRiQui mezcal, Glenrothes to Auchentoshan, Opihr and the Botanist gins), second, a short menu of classic cocktails and a pretty decent kitchen in the back to keep the booths and tables fed and watered.

In other words: The grown-up metal bar.

I will have to inform you though, there is a cocktail menu, but if you want something off-menu, do specify the drink and base spirit. An Old Fashioned will get you and Old Fashioned with house whiskey, or you can be charged one more pound to use a whiskey you know you enjoy.
Similarly, if you’re gonna ask for a drink that includes support-spirits like Campari, Aperol or vermouths – you want to make sure they’re in stock. The Black Heart does not tout itself as a cocktail bar after all.

Our Black Heart Camden Town Cocktails

Nikka From The Barrel Old Fashioned

Most of the cocktails today are off-menu, I should mention – except for one the Hoodooist once ordered an age ago that now made it to the menu, which is highly recommended: the Aztec Old Fashioned. Traditional sugar and bitters mixed in with QuiQuiRiQui Matatlan mezcal. Made the good old fashioned way with crushing sugar that takes longer, but ultimately more rewarding than using sugar syrup – you want to find bartender Nancy who is a total wiz and making these spectacular cocktails. Smoky, peppery – initially earthy to sugary with a long smoked agave finish.

Similarly, the Nikka From the Barrel Old Fashioned uses the Nikka From the Barrel cask strength Japanese whisky. A spicy and fruity nose opens to a palate that is powerful, warm and full bodied – laden with spices, fruits and oaky or toffee in the finish. The Auchentoshan Old Fashioned finds a much sweeter drink, with the sweet barley and vanilla really powering the cocktail.

Our Black Heart Camden Town Cocktails

After a quick bite of vegan buffalo wings (yes) and a dance in the gig space upstairs, it’s back to the bar for a Tequila Sour. While sipping on a neat Tequila Chamucos Anejo –  enjoying the smooth almond and cocoa flavours, the Chamucos Reposado Tequila Sour is served. One critique would be to tone down the citrus just a bit to let the chamomile and fruitier flavours of the tequila through. There was enough lemon to take away from the Chamucos’ more pungent flavours that would have beautifully balanced out the cocktail.

An Opihr Gimlet was an unwise choice on the Hoodooist’s part, it’s cardamom being overpowering. However the Auchentoshan Sour‘s vanilla was a sweet end to the evening before departing after the finale cover of ‘All I Want For Christmas‘ by The Dykeness and the Hoodooist made it back to the bar.

Our Black Heart Camden Town Cocktails

Service is swift and only at bar, and as I said, though there is a short cocktail menu, Our Black Heart does not tout itself as a ‘cocktail bar’, so you might have to explain the ingredients of a cocktail, though there is no shame in that. If, however, your goal is to drink an amazing Old Fashioned with Glenn Danzig in the background under the neon gaze of the Virgin Mary – you’ve found your spot in one of the last vestiges of Camden’s heyday.

 

Drinks: ** (For absence of support-spirits) – *** 
Atmosphere: **** (if a metal bar is what you’re looking for)
Service: ****

 

Our Black Heart

2-3 Greenland Pl, Camden Town
London NW1 0AP

http://www.ourblackheart.com/

Ohayo Tomorrow Hangover Cure – Reviewed!

UPDATE: Want 10% off your bottles of OHAYO Tomorrow? Check out our Discount Code below!

—————————————————————

The sun’s up.

The curtains are drawn. You don’t want to risk getting out of bed. It could be the nausea. It could be the wildest headache that makes you think a coma would be a better idea.

And oh, look at that. It’s a weekday.

The Hoodooist resorts to a whole artillery of hangover cures on a night out – the kitchen is just a giant prep of everything from seltzer to chocolate chip brioche to paracetamol to Angostura bitters, a Pickleback and a steak if he can turn the hob on.

And I don’t care if coffee is bad for a hangover, touch my mug and say goodbye to your hand.

And with that list of ‘cures’ – it’s kind of unbelievable when one company says it can cure any hangover with one tiny bottle to drink before bed.

Ohayo Tomorrow Hangover Cure

OHAYO!

Cue: OHAYO Tomorrow – it makes some pretty serious claims. “OHAYO is not a cure, but a prevention aid. By drinking the product as the last drink of the night, before bed, the body has a night’s sleep to reabsorb the essentials.”

The ‘doctor’s secret’ used by partying medical students is  “Packed full of B vitamins, electrolytes, and all-natural ingredients like milk thistle, OHAYO puts the good stuff back into your body. That way, the hangover never sets in to begin with.”

According to a pre-launch study – “100% of participants said taking the product helped the next day.”
The Hoodooist, being a nerd, was instantly skeptical with the word ‘helped’ being thrown in there, so was cautious with these claims – but anything that can help with a hangover, he’s happy to tackle.

Ohayo Tomorrow Hangover Cure

Instructions were simple enough – shake well, drink last thing before bed.
Probably his favourite bit was the fact that under the removable label is a glow-in-the-dark logo so you can’t miss in stumbling around in the dark.

The Hoodooist stared at the 3 little bottles. He hatched a mini-study in his head, a bottle for each condition:

Control Condition: Food, water before bed, but no OHAYO.
Condition 1: Drink OHAYO before bed without food or water.
Condition 2: Drink OHAYO before bed after only a pint of water.
Condition 3: Drink OHAYO before bed with both food & water.

It was time to go to the source of all hangovers – Casita, Shoreditch. This was gonna hurt.

 

Ohayo Tomorrow Hangover Cure

Gulp. Night 1.

Control Condition:

A control condition involved a night without OHAYO – rating on the hangover scale: “Screw it, going back to bed.”

 

Condition 1:

Cue awkward strip/stumble between door and bed – the bedside table had a glow in the dark logo smile back – following the instructions one can still follow when the room is spinning: shake well, down.

What nobody warned me about is the taste! It can take a while to get used to, but by the third experiment, he was starting to get accustomed to it. It might not be the best thing to taste after a night on the town, but it’s not intolerable. Kinda like off Miso soup. Or something.

Wake up the next morning to exactly what you’d expect to a no-food-no-water condition – everything still hurt and my throat is on fire – resort to traditional hangover cure spread. I suspected it may have been better than a usual hangover, but I did decide to be a little strict with it considering there were still two more bottles to go.

So far, one thing was for certain: drinking OHAYO without food or water will not make a massive difference to the hangover experience.

Ohayo Tomorrow Hangover Cure

I swear it was their fault.

Condition 2:

It’s been a couple of weeks since the last experiment – so here Hoodooist and gang were at Casita all over again.

Back to the strip and stumble and crash montage – this time, a pint of water before turning to the little white bottle of OHAYO.

The morning is a bit harsh, but certainly not as bad as Condition 1. No headache, however things are a bit fuzzy – A major improvement on that front. However, the water hasn’t particularly helped with the acidity and nausea.

Compared to the Control and Condition 1: a decent improvement on the hangover – but could do better before using the word ‘cure’.

At this point, the Hoodooist is becoming quite cautiously optimistic.

Ohayo Tomorrow Hangover Cure

At least the sun was still up?

Condition 3:

Oh, is that our bar tab.

With that call to go home, the Hoodooist manages to get food in himself, and down a couple glasses of water, just like in the Control Condition – but now finishing up with the OHAYO. Still not the best taste to end a night, but he’s getting used to it.

It’s been a few weeks since Condition 2, so he’s glad he took notes on the last experience.

Sleep ends all too quickly, the sun is up and – so is he. There is no headache, no fuzziness. Light doesn’t hurt and there is *colour* in the world!

Acidity is still a minor issue – but nothing a breakfast can’t fix. Luckily it’s a weekend, so he get’s to spend the day stuffing his face in bed anyway, but man, what a major improvement on all previous conditions!

Though acidity is still present, it’s a minor issue that a little bit of determination and food can solve, and he’s in a good enough condition to get to work if he had to.

Hangover Scale: “I suddenly understand the virtues of power-walking,” and/or “Is this the real life?”

 

Verdict: OHAYO Tomorrow ACTUALLY WORKS.

The Hoodooist’s skepticism did have it’s perks though – you want to make sure you get some food and water in you the night before along with your OHAYO.

As we saw in the Control Condition – food and water without OHAYO hurts – so having a bottle at home is always good.
OHAYO makes a fantastic addition to dealing with the hangovers, and seems to have more or less eliminated mine in Condition 3, but it is NOT a replacement for food and water.

Of course, you have to consider DRINKING RESPONSIBLY. It is also important to remember to make sure you keep an eye on your alcohol intake: Prevention is always better than a cure, but when push comes to shove, you know your OHAYO Tomorrow will be on your side.

And speaking of which – I need to restock my fridge.

—————————————————————

And so can you! Until the end of the year, you can get 10% off your OHAYO Tomorrow order from http://ohayotomorrow.com by entering the promo code: Hoodoo 

Ohayo Tomorrow Hangover Cure Discount Promo code

Best of luck on New Year’s morning!

Think Ink Pines by Kraken Rum, Hoxton

Type of Bar: Christmas, Winter, Pop Up
Damage: £
Ideal for: Rum, Party, Live Music, Small Groups

 

The Holiday Season getting a bit colourful for you?

Because, let’s face it, #BlackIsTheNewBlack – you might wanna check out the new pop up Think Ink Pines by Kraken Rum at 186 Hackney Road.

Make the Yuletide Brvtal with *real* all black pine trees, mistletoe and holly, wreaths, and poinsettias will also be available along with a range of dangerously dark Kraken Christmas Cards and Kraken Rum Cocktails.

Yes, from 9th to 13th December, get ready for Krampus with dark Christmas foliage and cocktails courtesy of Kraken Rum!
Visitors will walk into a world of black firs, nestled amongst which will be the festive Kraken Black Spiced Rum Bar serving five specially created Christmas Rum cocktails including the Squid Bite, Black Espresso, The Old Kraken, Perfect Storm and Kraken ‘S’pore’.

Think Ink Pines Black Kraken Rum Hackney Christmas Cocktails

Keep in mind that all cocktails are at £5. All come with the simplicity of £5 cocktails as well:

The Black Espresso – Kraken Rum with sugar and espresso, garnished with white chocolate shavings is a simple rum twist on your run of the mill Espresso Martini that does the job as one – smoothly sweet espresso with the spice is topped with a bar of white chocolate to nibble throughout the drink.

The Kraken ‘S’pore’ – a shooter of rum and sugar syrup with a crushed cracker rim and fire-roasted marshmallow. It’s exactly what it sounds like – it doesn’t make the rum any less harsh on the throat, but marshmallows are always fun.

Think Ink Pines Black Kraken Rum Hackney Christmas Cocktails

However, even at 5 pounds, some cocktails don’t work out well enough: The Old Kraken I was initially excited for with it’s drier twist – Kraken, white sugar syrup, Yellow Chartreus and aromatic bitters make a drink that’s rather imbalanced and bitter beyond comfort. As for the Perfect Storm, Kraken and Ginger Beer make a university house party favourite, but it’s just that – a house party favourite.

Finally, something to fit the season: the Squid Bite gives us Kraken Rum in hot mulled cider. Spicy, warm – the drink is rather sweet, with powerful apple and cinnamon and clove. It does demand a long time to drink though, so if you manage to grab a table, I’d relax with this one.

Think Ink Pines Black Kraken Rum Hackney Christmas Cocktails

So hang up those black stockings with Kraken Black Pines at:
Small (£15), Medium (£20), Large (£35) and Kraken X-large (£50) sizes. Pick up from the shop or reserve via Twitter #thinkinkpines.

Think Ink Pines is open from:

Wednesday 9th December: 12:30pm – 10pm
Thursday 10th December: 12:30pm – 11pm
Friday 11th December: 12:30pm – midnight
Saturday 12th December: 10am – midnight
Sunday 13th December: 9am – 4pm

 

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

 

Think Ink Pines

186 Hackney Road,
E2 7QL, London.

Brahms and Liszt, Homerton *XMAS EDITION*

Type of Bar: Local, Shop / Off License
Damage£ – ££
Ideal For: Date, Small Groups

 

No small secret that QuiQuiRiQui Mezcal ranks up in one of the Hoodooist’s favourites, and the good news is, the brains behind the QQRQ outfit, Melanie Symonds, is now running the Brahms & Liszt Off License and Tasting Room that revolutionises the off license and liquor store for the modern, discerning drinker.

What I love about this spot is first the incredible selection of normally difficult to find brands and spirits: your Poitins sit side by side with possibly the largest selection of tequila and mezcals in London. And there isn’t any need to beanxious trying something new: Brahms & Liszt‘s ‘try before you buy‘ policy means you always leave happy.

Brahms Liszt Cocktail London

But that’s not all! “If you’re up for a bit of educational boozing, you can also attend master classes with some of the drinks industries’ leading personalities in the shop.  Expect anything but the norm when you pop by to pick up a bottle: spirits that would otherwise be hard to come by are now easily accessible at Brahms & Liszt.

An interesting selection of handcrafted spirits have been carefully selected from small independent brands that represent something special and unique in their category.  This distinctive approach unlike nothing else in the whole of the UK gives customers the opportunity to uncover these outstanding spirits for themselves or for others. Should mixing cocktails at home be a little too much, you can enjoy delicious range of classic bottle aged cocktails that are made in house bought by 100ml, very much like a wine refill system made to be drunk over ice.”

Brahms Liszt Cocktail London

This Christmas, Brahms and Liszt unleashes a new batch of by the bottle cocktails that can be tasted at a masterclass – only this December!

Brahms Liszt Cocktail London

And outside the tasting session, the three cocktails can be bought by the brilliant bargain bottle: £28 for a 500ml or £15 for 250ml.

And what fabulous cocktails they are, the Christmas Old Fashioned, the Alaska, and Santa’s Little Helper have a little something for everyone.

Brahms Liszt Cocktail London

The Christmas Old Fashioned

East London Liquor Company Gold Rum, winter spiced Demerera spirit, and Bob’s Mandarin bitters make up the sweet and spicy Christmas Old Fashioned: the ELLC’s Gold Rum, imported from Guyana, imparts a beautiful toffee and warm vanilla, heated by the mulled spices in the drink, clove and nutmeg sizzle with the zesty mandarin bitters. Smooth, warming, making the perfect digestif on Christmas night.

Probably my favourite, though sweeter than my usual, it just felt too Christmassy to not love. Need a bottle of this.

Brahms Liszt Cocktail London

The Alaska

It’s always surprising to find a gin drink in the winter catalogue – a twist on a Savoy classic, the Alaska is the more aromatic of the three: Gin, Cocchi Americano, Yellow Chartreuse and orange bitters. Smooth and almost velvety, the cocktails is deceptively light. Citrus and juniper and tempered by the Yellow Chartreuse, concluding with an orange finish. Well rounded, with a dry edge. An excellent aperitif!

Brahms Liszt Cocktail London

Santa’s Little Helper

The Santa’s Little Helper brings in the big guns: Qui Qui Ri Qui Matalan Mezcal, Bold London Cherry Spirit, Kamm & Son’s Ginseng Spirit – powerfully smoky, the mezcal muscles in with tropical fruit and pepper, leashed by the sweeter cherry. The next explosion of smoke is a big one, finally ending on a long dry finish from the Kamm & Son’s ginseng.

Adore this cocktail, but it’s one you will have to take your time with. This is a bottle you buy if you wanna go all the way for a bit more raucous Christmas Eve!

Brahms Liszt Cocktail London

Brahms & Liszt is the kind of spot I’ve been waiting to see open in London for a while. It exhibits a powerful understanding of modern drinking culture in London, it’s educational edge, obscure collection, and money-saving try-before-you-buy opportunity makes it an ‘off license’ other liquor stores in the city could learn a thing or two from.

Not to mention their bottled cocktails are the bomb.

Blurring the line between bar and shop, Brahms & Liszt is probably marking a change in the winds of cocktail culture in the city. Major thumbs up from the Hoodooist!

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

Brahms and Liszt,

10 Chatsworth Rd, Homerton
London E5 0LP.

http://www.brahmsandlisztlondon.uk/