The Fat Bear, St Pauls

Type of BarBar/Restaurant, American
Damage£££
Ideal forFoodSmall GroupsLarge GroupsAfter Work

An undisturbed backstreet just off the road from St Paul’s grand cathedral, away from the bustle of the tourist crowd, there hides a gem, just above the Rising Sun.

Blues on the speakers, The Fat Bear’s low light and decor is a portal to Louisiana, easy going and demands you carry a fan with you for the drama. The venue creates a delightful balance of light heartedness and a casual fanciness, like dining at a pressed white tablecloth venue without feeling the need to roll your eyes every 5 minutes. As per the name and theme, I felt it was only fair to rock up in an enormous fur coat with fan. Look, I like themes, alright?

The food menu is a Southern delight but resist the urge to order everything, this veritable orgy of food will overwhelm you. When the two of us clearly were out of our league we did have to enlist the help of a bartender and a friend in the area to tackle our order – these portions are deceptively enormous!

One of our favourite bartenders and a wizard with rum, Gergὄ serves up a Solera Club, a lower ABV beauty. Mixing Amontillado sherry, Cynar, peche, and absinthe; nutty sherry makes a sweeping entrance before allowing the stone fruit to blossom, dragging you back down into the bittersweet Cynar, ending on the aniseed effervescence of the absinthe. A dozen times, yes.

But if you want that sour pick me up, the Pendennis is here for you: gin, apricot, lemon and Peychaud’s bitters. Astringent and in heels, the cocktail opens with spicy Bimber gin as a backdrop to the apricot that takes the stage, ending on a length of aniseed and Creole spice.

Now listen to me very carefully, reader. You want the corndogs. Order the corndogs. I don’t know what it is that makes these corndogs so addictive, but a pair of these (especially when paired with the sriracha mayo) will make your night. The train of starters kept coming in: the southern fried boneless chicken tenders were a crispy perfection, competing for the most attention for chicken with the kickin’ buffalo wings with their blue cheese dip – fighting hard for some of the best I’ve had in the city. Need more chilli? Ask about the Fat Bear’s extensive hot sauce list – why do Creole remoulade when you can do ghost peppers?

In typical Gergὄ fashion, we ain’t leaving with getting our fill of Tiki cocktails! The Tiki Sour combines Jamaica Cove Pineapple Rum, Somerset cider brandy, Orgeat, Falernum, lime, cinnamon bitters, egg white. Pineapple and cinnamon on the nose, the apple eau de vie tags on the arm of the pineapple rum, spice in their wake. The Falernum and lime helps temper the sweetness of the orgeat and cinnamon for a whole tour of flavour. In many ways, a classic Sour – which we down with our wonderfully savoury pimento cheese and toasted ciabatta, and fries topped with cheese, spring onion and bacon while waiting for our mains – yeah it’s at this point we should have assumed we were being ambitious.

Mid meal, say hello to the Welcome to Oaxaca: Gem & Bolt Mezcal, Ocho Tequila, Benedictine, Yellow Chartreuse, Miracle Mile Lime and Bergamot bitters. As part of what seems to be our global tour of cocktails, we pull up in my favourite spirit-homeland. Normally made with Sekforde Tequila Mixer, the mixer is switched out for bitters because by now we know my style.

Gem & Bolt Mezcal kicks down the door to the tune of Boys by Lizzo before immediately swirling into peppery, herbaceous Ocho tequila. Herbal and sweet eucalyptus of Yellow Chartreuse and spicy-bitter Benedictine step in before just as quickly returning to a finish of lightly smoky and floral Gem & Bolt.

And here’s the kicker: the best gumbo and jambalaya this side of the Atlantic.
Chicken, custom made Andouille sausage and prawns stew make a gumbo that blow the rest out of the water, and a spicy seafood jambalaya of prawn, catfish and Andouille sausage smothering rice for a Creole experience unbeaten in the UK. But that’s why you’re here.
On the side, creamed greens and mac & cheese, because clearly we haven’t learned our lesson in portions.

Ending the meal evening with a few neat spirits to celebrate the impressive and unique back bar, the Michter’s Toasted Barrel Finish Rye on the nose is a glory. Caramel and sweetest cinnamon carouse around nutty warm spice. Opening with hazelnut and soft marzipan, the honeyed powder spice ends chocolatey and smokey with soaking, sugared dates and fig. What a gorgeous dram.

Finally, here they come – flaming Baked Alaska and oreo cheesecake to end the meal. Perfection, this Alaska, blue and radiant, and the oreo cheesecake a decadent chocolatey delight. By this point we basically recruited two more people to help make our way through the meal. But honestly, we wouldn’t have had it any other way.

Finally, to conclude, the Long Pond 11-year-old 2007 Rum. Wow. This one is unforgiving and smooth – blasting your palate with spice and florals before descending into familiar cocoa and cigar smoke and coffee bean. A perfect alternative to a cigar.

The Fat Bear is somewhat overlooked as one of the most hedonistic nights out in the City, and possibly in London. You might have shaved a solid 5 years off your lifespan but by Screamin’ Jay Hawkin’s false septum piercing it was damn well worth it. I mean you’re sitting at the bar across from the entire Pappy’s whiskey selection and the Antique range by Buffalo Trace while filled with cheese, you aren’t in any place to complain.

Even if you’re just popping by on the way home from work for a pair of corndogs and a bourbon, come down to this little Louisiana haven – you won’t regret it.

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

The Fat Bear

61 Carter Ln,
London EC4V 5DY

http://www.thefatbear.co.uk

Cocktails in the City 2019, London

Once again, Cocktails in the City is coming into serve thirsty Londoners some of the best cocktails London has to offer!

Yes, CitC 2019 is a bringing 25 of London’s most exciting bars in the subterranean lairs of The Waterloo Vaults for a raucous three-day celebration of the city’s unique and diverse drinking scene.  Festival-goers will get a chance to enjoy bars from around the city coming together in one gorgeous location on April 4th – 6th.

Bars and a representing brand set up stalls where bartenders presented the brand in a cocktail of their devising to the public for judging, with scores gathered at the end of the weekend.

Expect cocktails from renowned London bars like the new Heads + Tails, the B&H Buildings, Nightjar, and more! And be ready for the appearance of international cocktails bars flying in for the experience!

This year “guests can sip their way through new trend-surfing drinks as they discover each arch transformed into a new drinking emporium. Watch London’s top bartenders square up in the ‘CITC Battle Ring’, explore ‘The Botanical Cove’ bursting with flora and fauna, take a seat in our ‘Subterranean Speakeasies’, taste the future in ‘The Experimental Lab’, sip champagne in the ‘F*&K Me I’m Famous Arch’ or get down and dirty in the ‘Dive Den’.”

Cocktails in the City showcases the world’s most inventive  and original cocktail bars, bringing together the cream of London’s illustrious cocktail culture, all within sipping distance of each other.
Cocktails in the City is a bar-hopper’s paradise, creating a village of pop-up bars for guests to explore, each with their own unique aesthetic, hosting tastings, workshops, games and of course, a plethora of talented mixologists creating out-of-this world cocktails.”

CITC 2019 is prepared to dazzle this year, with a whole host of new experiences that leaves the Hoodooist stunned and excited!

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Get lost in the Secret Garden

Enter the Secret Garden and discover a world full of flora and fauna, overflowing with plants and botanicals. Explore B&H Buildings’ sensory Greenhouse on the mezzanine where you can choose your garnishes from the hanging plants discover new botanical cocktails with Mr Foggs and enjoy a drink in the garden.

Party hard in The Good Times Vault

Get down and dirty in the Good Times Vault, with favourite party bars such as London Cocktail Club, and  enter a world where the drinks are always strong, the music is always loud and the night is always young.

Witness cocktail wizardry in the Experimental Lab

Learn from the famed industry mavericks driving the city’s cocktail trends. Marvel at their cocktail wizardry in the experimental lab and get a sneak peak of the innovative techniques used to create award winning drinks.

Pretend you’re famous in the House of Luxe

Sit back, relax and enjoy luxurious surroundings and sumptuous champagne drinks from London’s most exclusive cocktail institutions.

Travel back in time in the underground bunker

Bringing you raucous good old fashioned fun, step back in time with Cahoots as they bring their underground tube carriage to the iconic London venue.

Discover a new favourite bar in The Neighbourhood

With new bars popping up all over London, find a new favourite as we bring you the critics’ pick of Neighborhood hangouts from a multitude of further afield boroughs. Zone 5 here we come!

Become an international jetsetter

Be swept away to the giddy romance of Florence and sample Negronis galore as we bring you a bar all the way from bella Italia.

Don’t forget! The Tasting Flight, where guests can sample three cocktails and pick their favourite: just £7.50 for three taste-tests alongside the Sensory Cocktail Journey where sight, sound, touch and smell are used to craft bespoke cocktails based on your emotion.

“Guests are encouraged to try their hand behind the bar, explore new trends, sip on some of the world’s newest and most premium spirit and liqueur inventions and taste unusual and rare ingredients, as Cocktails in the City takes you on a cocktail adventure through London’s drinks scene in one night, without even having to leave the building.”

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Some favourites from years past include:

The Looking Glass Cocktail Club, Shoreditch – harking back to Maker’s Mark’s history as breadmakers, this cocktail is inspired by Italy’s sweet panettone bread loaf and it’s potent almond flavour.

The Maker’s Baker cocktail mixes Maker’s Mark whiskey, cider reduction with winter spice, Americano vermouth, ‘Liquid Panettone’, and Sinner Bitters. A sweet wintery Manhattan with heavy mix of cinnamon, nutmeg and spices, with lingering almond certainly took centre stage with it’s innovative homemade creations of ‘liquid panettone’ and spiced cider reduction.

Other cocktails presented by LGCC included the Honey Loaf, and Fig Muffin – each an excellent rendition on the baker/distiller theme.

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Fifteen, Old Street, came in with another winner! Inspired by Wimbledon’s classic, the Strawberries and Cream.

Inspired by Behn’s Milk Punch, this summery cocktail gets a 300 year update and is a massive mix of Langley’s gin, strawberries, whole milk, Dolin dry vermouth, coconut water, green tea, lemon juice and peels, sugar, pink peppercorns, tarragon and coriander seeds.

And what a fabulous mix it is!

A wonderful well balanced, silky cocktail, sweet without being overbearing and mellowed by the fruit and spices. Absolutely fantastic.

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Another great cocktails from CITC’s past is the the Reverend JW Simpson with their Larder Batch: Four Roses Small Batch Bourbon, Pinot Noir and pink peppercorn reduction, cardamom bitters and angostura bitters; with a steak accompaniment. In terms of presentation, it stuck with the theme of the bar and the Four Roses bourbon, and the service was conversational, fun, and effervescent like the event itself. The accompaniment suited both the intense aspects of the drink, the bourbon, and Pinot Noir/pink peppercorn reduction – here the Reverend presents us with a steak dinner in a cocktail format and a nibble; the natural spiciness of the Four Roses Small Batch, and that of the peppercorn and cardamom suits the steak perfectly. The Reverend excelled on all fronts and more.

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So if you love your cocktails, get yourself a ticket asap, and see you at Cocktails in the City 2019!

The Vaults
Leake St, Lambeth,
London SE1 7NN

Thursday 4th, Friday 5th and Saturday 6th April: From 6 – 11.30pm
Tickets are priced at £20 and include a cocktail, multiple complimentary experiences and cocktail booklet.

www.cocktailsinthecity.com