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.
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.”
This Christmas, Brahms and Liszt unleashes a new batch of by the bottle cocktails that can be tasted at a masterclass – only this December!
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.
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.
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!
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 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!
Brahms and Liszt,
10 Chatsworth Rd, Homerton
London E5 0LP.