Bird of Smithfield, Clerkenwell

Type of Bar: Bar/Restaurant, Also optional Basement
Damage££ 
Ideal for: FoodDate, Small Groups, Large GroupsAfter Work

 

Here on Highball Hoodoo we had already reviewed this summer’s Aperol Spritz Terrazza open on the roof terrace of Bird of Smithfield – but it hides so much more.

A comfy restaurant and bar on the ground floor, with the private-bookings Birdcage in the basement serve up some cocktails that rival the best of Clerkenwell.

The ground floor bar is perfect for the day time – bright eggshells and greys with scattered kitsch and 70s throwbacks make a great space for an afternoon hang out or meeting. The Birdcage downstairs, though, takes the lighting down a notch for a sexy charcoal and cerulean, lit by mirrors and illuminated trees and birdcages.

Bartenders are wonderful, service is swift, and servers are more than happy to discuss the cocktail with you.

Bird of Smithfield London Cocktail bar

The new cocktail menu launched earlier this year appeals to a variety of palates and flavours, and does not shy from a little bit of experimentation.

Beginning with the Cointreauversial: Cointreau, Remy Martin VSOP cognac, apricot brandy, lime, Angostura bitters. The first wash is the rich and floral cognac, with strong notes of apricot and nectarine, violet and vanilla, giving way to the Cointreau’s orange and a stronger citrus, finally becoming quite tart.

A great option for those enjoying citrus and floral flavours, but want something a bit rich and not served long or with ice.

Bird of Smithfield London Cocktail bar

The Mr. Pacifico – I do love this cocktail: Mezcal, Pisco, blackberry and blueberry shrub, cardamom bitters, chilli vermouth, and Fernet Branca. Pisco ain’t easy to use in a cocktail – but this smoky/spicy tipple is just what you need when you want a bit of bite with your fruity sour/sweet.

Bird of Smithfield London Cocktail bar

The Lucky One is another that defies convention. Tincup Whiskey, Flaming Pig liqueur, Negra Modelo ale syrup, ginger bitters, lemon, Angostura bitters, egg white. The ale syrup really mellows out the other powerful flavours we see here: the cinnamon sweetness of the Flaming Pig, the butterscotch and high rye spice of the Tincup and ginger bitters. So what we get is an easy to down, grain-strong spicy tankard. Love it.

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The Lucky One

The LDN: BOLD London Cherry Spirit, Aperol, Cynar, orange & mandarin bitters, rhubarb bitters. BOLD does it again! Aperol dominates, but enjoys complexity added by the bittersweet Cynar and the sweetness of BOLD cherry. The citrus bitters are more noted here, adding an almost sparkling flicker in the cocktail.

Aperol Spritzes are well and good, but the LDN does not compromise on ABV and celebrates Aperol in way only London could.

Bird of Smithfield London Cocktail bar

The LDN

The Lord of Isles is another favourite here: Botanist gin, rhubarb and thyme syrup, Cynar, Kummel, and lime. Served for two, smoking inside a treasure chest, the box is opened to unveil two small cocktails in tiki glasses.

Not a sweet cocktail, but bright and herbal, with added depth from the Cynar. You’d almost forget it was gin. Warm and citrus with spice from the Botanist leads to the Kummel’s light aniseed flavour, but not compromising on it’s coating mouthfeel – finally enjoying a bit of sweetness from the rhubarb and thyme and then settling on the depth of Cynar, with a Kummel finish.

An enigmatic and adventurous cocktail. Loved around the table.

 

Not Just a Dram: Bruichladdich whisky, Lapsang souchong tea, lime juice, yellow chartreuse, sage leaves, plum and cardamom bitters.

I was hoping this would be a short, smoky cocktail – however the Not Just a Dram is served similar to a Julep, tall and filled with crushed ice.

I’d really like to return to try this straight up in a coupe, to really enjoy the whisky and tea. The brightness of the Bruichladdich is meant to be contrasted against the smoky lapsang, but I couldn’t get much with the ice here. Tasted a wee bit watered down, I’m afraid. Considering I absolutely *love* the sound of these ingredients together!

Definitely returning for this.

Bird of Smithfield London Cocktail bar

The Not Just A Dram

The Kenko Cha goes East by adding pineapple-infused Tanqueray gin to Canton ginger liqueur, Matcha, grapefruit, lime, sugar and egg white.

This was one cocktail I didn’t quite take to, but to be fair, I do have a slight aversion to strong pineapple flavours. And man was it strong here. I couldn’t help but feel it drowned out the others, and so missed the potential.

Bird of Smithfield London Cocktail bar

All in all: I love this bar. Wonderful service coupled with a large variety of cocktail flavours and various levels from the basement to terrace for different events make this bar a winner. Bird of Smithfield is a must when in Clerkenwell.

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


Bird of Smithfield

26 Smithfield St, Clerkenwell
London EC1A 9LB

http://birdofsmithfield.com/

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MASH Steak 2016, Soho

Type of Bar: Bar/Restaurant, Basement
Damage££ – £££
Ideal for: Date, Small Groups, Large Groups, Steak, Originality

 

Ah, MASH. The Danish-American steak venture is bound to have a surge in bar visitors with the introduction of their new menu, taking on more international influences.

MASH’s enormous Lynchian red and black pseudo-Deco décor retains that element of American-but-not-quite, and I must still recommend seating right up at the bar for the best lighting and experience with the wonderful bartenders and service offered (the service, as always, was impeccable. It’s one of MASH’s greatest strengths – shout out to bartender Steve!). This is, of course, if you are coming for the bar and not for the meal, in which case there is the gargantuan restaurant and red booths that are open to you. However, one must recommend the bar snacks, especially the MASH tartare and chilli fries; as well as the jalapeno cheese balls.

 

So the cocktails! We provided a review of their glorious 2015 cocktail list, and look forward to covering this year’s!

Though the new menu is meant to evoke a USA Frontier to Prohibition era apothecary, one will see inspirations from Scandinavia, Central Europe and Italy. And though it has kept a small handful of drinks from the old menu, MASH has developed a large and innovative new selection. Often working with spirit companies to help create bespoke glassware for their drinks; personally, the glassware can be a highlight of the drinking experience here.

Though we went through the entire new menu, let us cover the ones that stand out here today.

MASH Soho London Cocktail Bar

Because why not.

If you wanna start with a winner – remember the name: Sunshine State Fix. A desserty digestivo, the cocktail mixes Bacardi 8 Rum, pistachio liqueur, lemon juice, orgeat, egg white and chocolate bitters.

A cocktail take on gelato, if anything, the sweetness of Sicilian pistachios (and we all know how the Hoodooist loves Sicilian pistachios) blends wonderfully with the rum, and the finish wafts in with hints of almond and citrus.

Rarely does the Hoodooist enjoy a dessert, particularly one with chocolate bitters, but my word. The Sunshine State Fix is exquisite.

MASH Soho London Cocktail Bar

The Binchotan

The Binchotan uses a stick of white Japanese charcoal to filter and mellow the normally sharp flavours of Bulleit Rye, with Slovakian Tatra Tea Coconut, cardamom bitters and sugar.

An improvement on the ingredients of the Binchotan of 2015’s menu – the Hoodooist might love Cynar from the old recipe, but the new concoction is a major improvement.

The technique used to mellow the rye though, also mellows out the rest of the flavours, but not to the extent as last year’s Binchotan, where the flavours muddled together. The Tatra tea is much stronger, turning what used to be a Bourbon Old Fashioned to a spiced, silky (though slightly syrupy) sweetened Rye cocktail for adults.

I like the slow melting ice, but not when the ice is taller than the glass, making it an interference to drink. Your index finger is necessary here.

MASH Soho London Cocktail Bar

The Mexican Smuggler

Now here is a star. A hit with the Hoodooist and friends, the Mexican Smuggler mixes Casco Viejo Blanco tequila, Del Maguey Vida mezcal, basil and Szechuan pepper sugar, lime, MASH Pilsner, garnished with Serrano ham crisp.

Okay. Hear me out. I actually enjoyed a beer cocktail.

I know I told off House of Peroni for making me lose faith in beer cocktails, but MASH has helped me reconsider. The light and slightly tart drink almost plays the part of citrus to pair with the peppery and herbal tequila, and the wonderfully smoky mezcal.

A long finish allows you to enjoy the spices of the mezcal, ginger and cinnamon, which burst to life with a bite of the Serrano ham. Drink this.

MASH Soho London Cocktail Bar

Steve and the One of This!

You might have questions for the One of This. This is one hell of a complex cocktail which even left the Hoodooist quizzical.

Powerfully herbal and minty Fernet Branca meets Disaronna amaretto, lemon, sugar, peach bitters and maraschino with egg white – served with wonderfully nostalgic fizzy sweets.

My recommendation with this cocktail is for it to be shaken longer with smaller ice cubes, because over time, the flavours blended and harmonised wonderfully. Maraschino cherried, the initial fruity sweetness is followed by a tart and herbal hit to sides of the tongue, and gentian root quinine depth that fizzes to the surface with the lighter fruit flavours once again.

Bit of a rollercoaster, in the best of ways. Certainly an acquired taste, for the adventurous palate.

MASH Soho London Cocktail Bar

The BLT

Okay so, I love Becherovka. I don’t understand why more bartenders don’t use it, because this Czech spirit deserves a more notable place in the back bar.

The BLT is one odd but beautiful drink. Heir to last year’s fabulous Yosemite cocktail, this simpler drink mixes the bitter spirit with tonic reduction and sparkling wine for a true Prohibition era revivifier.

The spices don’t play as strong a part as they did in last year’s Yosemite, instead what we get is the crisp bitter Becherovka dancing and swirling with the herbal quinine of the tonic reduction and the sweetness of the sparkling wine and sugar rim for a bright, sparkling, daytime aperitif. Absolutely adore the simplicity of the BLT because have not had enough of the gin and tonic?!

MASH Soho London Cocktail Bar

The Konik’s Whisperer

Brought in by the absolutely wonderful ambassador of Konik’s Tail Vodka, the Konik’s Whisperer is popularised by ambassador Swanand Korgaonkar.

The cocktail is named after the Berkeley and American Bar alum, nicknamed the Konik’s Whisperer because goddamn can this man sell a drink. Konik’s Tail Vodka meets Vya Dry Vermouth, cardamom bitters and a twist of lemon. Powerfully dry, this cocktail explores the various complex flavours of this award-winning vodka.

Though I find that this cocktail focuses far more on the vermouth’s flavours, with cardamom ruling the roost. If you like your Vodka Martinis smooth and sleek, this is not your drink. The Konik’s Whisperer is a violent plunge into a swirl of flavours.

MASH Soho London Cocktail Bar

L – R: The Danish Crown, and Persephone’s Seed.

The above drinks are stars, this one is a bit confusing: we have the  the Danish Crown.

 

The Danish Crown is impressive and unique, but slinks to the side of bizarre: Fat washed Geneivre, Lillet Rouge vermouth, chocolate bitters, creme de cassis, and lemon.

Fried chicken. I love fried chicken. I’m not sure about drinking a sweetened liquid friend chicken though.

I mean I still drank it, but its that feeling you get after watching an episode of Geordie Shore. Like, do I need a shower? Or 50 Hail Marys? I’d probably still drink it is someone bought it for me, though. Because fried chicken. I’m so confused.

MASH Soho London Cocktail Bar

The fabulous Swanand shaking those Daiquiris

The NYC Calling is not a bad drink, but has so many ingredients it misses the point. Hudson Four Grain bourbon, Bacardi 8 rum, Martini Gran Lusso vermouth, creme de cafe, maple, sea salt solution, and Angostura bitters.

I do enjoy the hit of sea salt in the cocktail, but this sweet drink on the rocks can be easily replicated with an Anejo Rum Old Fashioned and a sprinkle of sea salt with far fewer ingredients.

 

Finally, the For Him is the one drink we didn’t actually like at all.

I’d avoid it altogether. First of all, it is part of a pair – the For Her/For Him. My peated whisky swigging female pal and I glanced at each other with the ‘sweeter For Her’ and the ‘bitter For Him’. Who doesn’t love casual and unnecessary gendering of alcohol.

The cocktail itself is Zacapa rum, pear liqueur, pear eau d’vie, chocolate bitters, Mozart chocolate liqueur, with sea salt solution.

I hate to say it, but this doesn’t work.

But I’d like to remind the reader that this is in comparison to the wonderful, fabulous winners that are the Sunshine State Fix, the Binchotan, Mexican Smuggler, BLT, One of This, and the rest of those incredible drinks on the MASH 2016 menu!

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All in all? What an exciting menu! Though less experimental and sensual than 2015’s menu, it is still full of originality. Coupled with their incredible service, MASH is still up the list for innovative cocktails in London, and easily one of my most favoured places in Soho.

 

Drinks: **** 
Atmosphere: *** on seats, ***** at bar
Service: *****

 

MASH Steak

77 Brewer Street,
London,W1F 9ZN.

http://www.mashsteak.co.uk/

Citadelle Gin’s 20th Anniversary

The popularity of the London Dry has led to bit of a misconception that gin lacks a popularity on the continent, where its predecessor – jenever – originated.

The popular French Citadelle Gin reminds us of that continental history with a wonderful smooth and spicy tipple perfect for a Martini. And to celebrate its French history, the 20th Anniversary of Citadelle places the escargot front and centre as its posterchild.

Citadelle Gin London Bar cocktails

Held at the LASSCO Ropewalk, with food by the Disappearing Dining Club, the anniversary served up three classic cocktails with little twists, hosted by the wonderful Citadelle Gin and Maison Ferrand Brand Ambassador, Paul McFadyen.

Neat, Citadelle is smooth, beginning crisp with brine and juniper, before giving way to warm spices like nutmeg and cardamom. A unique gin, definitely.

First, a bright Gin and Tonic, using Fevertree Mediterranean Tonic (quite floral), garnished with singed orange peel, served with a Snail, garlic and lemon Arancini with herb aioli. The snail does more for texture than flavour, but still enjoyable.

Citadelle Gin London Bar cocktails

Photo Credit to the wonderful @janan_jay

Next the star of the cocktails: an Escargot Martini. Light, crisp, glassy. With ice shaken in the vermouth before the gin, the Martini is garnished with a floating snail shell, filled with lemon and olive brine, for the drinker to control how dirty they like their Martini.

The crisp airiness of the cocktail is combatted by the heavy, sensuous Foie Gras Sliders with sour apple chutney in brioche – a wonderfully moreish and decadent accompaniment to the Martini.

Citadelle Gin London Bar cocktails

Finally, a smooth and fluffy silver Gin Fizz: the rosemary heightening the spices in the gin. A great way to end the evening on a sweeter note, without being sickly. And served with a Brie, leek and truffle Croquette with caramelised red onions.

All three cocktails served are simple enough to recreate at home, and displaying the versatility of the Citadelle Gin and it’s expressions in each drink.

Once again, The Disappearing Dining Club has served up wonderful food paired well with superb cocktails from their barge bar.

Citadelle Gin is an unappreciated star of the gin scene, and certainly one that deserves a place in your cabinet. Spectacular stuff.

Citadelle Gin London Bar cocktails

La Terraza Pop Up @ Number 90 Bar, Hackney Wick

Type of Bar: Pop Up, Local, Terrace
Damage££
Ideal for: Small Groups, Food, Tequila

 

This canal-side bar in Hackney takes you to Mexico for the summer!

Number 90 Bar’s Terraza serves up Mexican food from chicken tostadas, to veggie quesadillas, to tacos chilli con carne to go with your passionfruit or strawberry frozen Margaritas or Tequila Old Fashioneds along with a series of events to keep you entertained in the sun.

La Terraza Number 90 Bar cocktails summer pop up

Whether it’s yoga sessions, Hackney’s biggest DJs, or cinema screenings and bottemless Tommy’s Margaritas to prep you for cricket eating competitions, there’s something on every night for the locals of Hackney Wick this summer!

La Terraza Number 90 Bar cocktails summer pop up

From the flavoured frozen Margaritas to beat the heat, the Hoodooist went on to the Tequila Old Fashioned using Herradura Anejo –  a tequila with bright agave and more fruit than caramel, with a spicy cinnamon finish and light oaky length, it makes a great intro to Tequila Old Fashioneds.

The food is exactly what you’d expect and fits the theme, with mains at an affordable 5 quid to enjoy al fresco on a beautiful canal in the sun.

La Terraza Number 90 Bar cocktails summer pop up

Whereas the drinks menu works for an afternoon of lounging in the heat, I would’ve liked to see a greater variety of tequilas instead of the two brands provided, as good as El Jimador and Herradura are.

Until then, I’m gonna get myself another Margarita and get ready for the Summer Screens at La Terraza.

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


La Terraza Pop Up @ Number 90 Bar

90 Wallis Rd, Hackney Wick,
London E9 5LN

http://number90bar.co.uk/

Palm Club Pop Up, Dalston

Type of Bar: Pop Up, Local, Tiki
Damage£
Ideal for: Date, Small Groups 

Beachy cocktails, Kona Beer, and Tiki vibes is what’s promised at Dalton’s latest pop up bar!

Palm Club Dalston Pop Up Cocktail Bar London

A 10 second walk from Dalston Kingsland station, Palm Club Dalston will be serving up cocktails and a chilled out, funky atmosphere with your wonderful hosts Kelly and Bethan!

A design that is somehow Hawaii meets Berlin, the home-crafted venue is perfectly for lying back and chilling out with the selection of cocktails on menu.

Palm Club Dalston Pop Up Cocktail Bar London

The Kon-Tea-Ki!

The Kon-Tea-Ki mixes dark rum, cold brewed lapsang souchong tea with lemon, served on the rocks. A long citrusy cocktail with rum spice is balanced against the depth and warmth of the tea. A wonderful cocktail on its own, the Hoodooist would have preferred a little less lemon – but that is just a personal thought, since the cocktail does the job as is.

Palm Club Dalston Pop Up Cocktail Bar London

The rest of menu does lean more to the sweeter tooth.

Next we have a classic Mai Tai: Dark and white rum, orgeat, triple sec, lime and pineapple. We all know our Mai Tai’s marzipan sweetness with citrus zing and tropical pineapple for those moments we need to forget the bustle of the big smoke.

The rest of the menu serves up a Pina Colada, Frozen Watermelon Margarita, and a double G&T.

The Palm Club pop up is a fun stop to pop by next you’re in Dalston – whether for one of their workshops (like learning how to make rings!) or just to chill, or even enjoy their sparkler studded birthday cocktail. Stop by and say hi!

Palm Club is open every Thursday, Friday and Saturday evening from 6.30pm – late until the 2nd July 2016. That’s 4 more weekends to lap up some tropical vibes!

 

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

Palm Club Dalston

14 Bradbury Street, Dalston
London N16 8JN

http://www.palmclub.co.uk/