The Elephant’s Head, Hackney

Type of BarBar/Restaurant, Pub
Damage££
Ideal forFoodDateSmall Groups, SundaysAfter Work

 

It’s firmly back in place!
The Elephant’s Head has reclaimed it’s spot at 43 Lower Clapton! Which is exactly what we all needed after years of the venue changing hands.

The pub has itself ready for anything, a spot to spend the night with friends, a dim lit room to nurse a hangover, and not mention, a fantastic Sunday roast.

And they ain’t too shabby on the cocktail front! Classics with a few signatures, the bar knows what they do, and do it well.

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Before our late night roast makes its way in, we sit below the beautiful stained glass ceiling nursing an El Chapo and a Martinez.

The classic Martinez has gin, sweet vermouth, maraschino liqueur and Angostura bitters, but this classic is twisted slightly with a 2:1 gin:vermouth rather than the old 1:1. The result is a lighter, brighter, much more balanced and modern cocktail.

The El Chapo stands out tonight as the best of the bar’s signature cocktails: Ocho Tequila, agave syrup, lime, ginger syrup, a mezcal float with candied ginger garnish. The sweet agave of the tequila and light white pepperiness is followed up by citrus to end with a crackle of ginger. Simple, clean, wonderful.

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After a plate of wings, a classic Japanese Cocktail makes an appearance with cognac, orgeat, lemon juice and Angostura bitters – sweet with almond and orange flavours, with an undercurrent of ripe fruit and oaky vanilla from the cognac. Certainly for the sweet tooth.

The roast sirloin was perfectly medium rare, but what we were cheering on were those incredible infinite trimmings. Tenderstem broccoli with peppered sweet root vegetables, roast potatoes that though simple were entirely too addictive, and *that* cheesy cauliflower with that distinct honeyed sweetness.

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After a second helping of the methtatoes, the now unable to move Hoodooist and co. order Gin, and Tequila Old Fashioneds, respectively.

The Gin Old Fashioned gave us rosemary infused gin, maple syrup, and black walnut bitters – which is a promising recipe, but the maple could overpower the rosemary gin – although that’s easily sorted by asking for a little less maple syrup for a sweet and savoury digestif.

The Tequila Old Fashioned I wanted extra spicy, and extra spicy I got it: tequila, chilli, agave syrup, grapefruit bitters, for a brighter alternative to the Gin variant. The agave and the tequila give us the sweet and earthy, while the grapefruit and chilli go bright and effervescent. What an excellent combo.

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I’m glad the Elephant’s Head is back, and better than ever. With quality cocktails at a price you couldn’t frown at, the most dramatic WCs ever (no, seriously), and all the methtatoes with that excellent roast, the EH makes a great spot to spend a Sunday afternoon.

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

 

The Elephant’s Head

43 Lower Clapton Rd, Hackney
London E5 0NS, UK

https://www.elephanthackney.com/

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Cocktails in the City 2018

Once again, Cocktails in the City is coming into serve thirsty Londoners some of the best cocktails in the city!

Oh wait, I just got the name.

Yes, CitC 2018 is a bringing  London’s most exciting bars beneath the green canopies of London’s One Marylebone for a sunny 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 5th – 7th.

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.

The 2018 Bar & Brand Line-Up
The Gibson Bar, The Artesian, TT Liquor, Cahoots, Mr Foggs, London Cocktail Club, Chapter 72, Eve Bar, Ella Canta, Little Bat, The Bloomsbury Club, Little Nans, MASH, Mint Gun Club, Coupette, Rock and Rose, Burlock, Hawksmoor Spitalfields Bar, Four Degrees, Chotto Matte, Opium

International bars: Atrium Bar – Florence, House Bar – Amsterdam, Café Moderne – Paris

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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.

Each of the 25 bars create a signature cocktail for guests to taste-test and this year’s theme is ‘Inspired by London’. Expect exceptional concoctions, all with a unique twist and flair, from a handpicked selection of the world’s top bars, this year including The Artesian, Eve Bar, The Gibson, Coupette, Little Bat, The Bloomsbury Club, Burlock, Hawksmoor, Mr Fogg’s, Mint Gun Club and Opium. There will be international bars to explore from Amsterdam, Paris and Florence, a ‘Be the Bartender’ experience in the garden, garnish and spirit workshops and interactive tasting tables as Cocktails in the City takes you on a whirlwind tour of cocktail exploration.

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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Expect to see flavours inspired by this city we love: Earl Grey will play with rum in the Navy-inspired “Rum Fellow” by 1940s inspired Cahoots; the gin/beer rivalry of the 1700s will be enacted by sour beer syrup and juniper water in the “Whisky Avenue” by Eve Bar; and classic London flavours of gin, hops, elderflower and champagne will govern the Ada Lovelace inspired “Love Lace” by Little Bat. Of course, the Espresso Martini classic by London bar legend Dick Bradsell will appear with Chapter 72 in their “Peanut and Cinnamon Espresso Martini“.

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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 2018!

One Marylebone, 1 Marylebone Road, London NW1 4AQ

Thursday 5th, Friday 6th and Saturday 7th April: From 6 – 11.30pm
Tickets are priced at £20 and include a cocktail, multiple complimentary experiences and cocktail booklet.

www.cocktailsinthecity.com

New Release! Fortaleza Still Strength Blanco

After two years of waiting – it’s finally here!

Fortaleza stands among the Hoodooist’s favourite tequilas available in the UK, and with good reason. The Blanco, Reposado and Anejo revel in gorgeous flavours of pine and agave, and the Still Strength Blanco is no different – now available in the UK.

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In its purest form, what sets the Blanco Still Strength apart is it is delivered straight from the copper pot still, at 46% – compared to the Blanco at 40% – and it comes through in the flavour. Still packed in those man-blown bottles and hand-made stoppers, the bottling is classic.

Still beautifully smooth as we expect from Fortaleza, I….I actually prefer this to the Blanco.

The nose is earthy, strong notes of olive and agave, and as I’ve come to expect from the distillery (at least for me) pine. It’s livelier, earthier, slightly more vegetal, with the salty-peppery kick on a velvet feel.

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The olive aroma really comes through when made into a Tequila Martini (not quite a 1942 without the bitters), for a strong kicker to wake you right up.

For the Hoodooist though, drinking it neat is the ticket.

Don’t mess with perfection.

 

New Release! by B.lo Nardini Grappa

You just haven’t tried the right one yet.

In the UK, you can expect any conversation about grappa goes the way of “I had a bad experience”. But everyone knew someone who said that about tequila or mezcal and they are dominating the cocktail scene at the moment – so when will grappa get some love?

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In my experience, grappa is best drunk neat, and B.lo Nardini‘s new range, the Selezione Bartolo Nardini, is a great place to start. The oldest running independent distillery in Italy use a blend of Merlot, Cabernet and Pinot Grigio pomaces to create the new selection: the Extrafina, and the three aged La Ramate. We tasted the new selection at the favulous Corinthia Hotel, London, led by Antonio Nardini himself.

This selection of warm, welcoming grappas are both a good place to start your grappa journey, as well as a place to end your meals – as traditional pomace brandies they work as fabulous digestivos either on their own or paired with after-dinner courses.

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Getting straight down to business, the Extrafina has a powerfully floral nose, the palate begins with a hit of spice, followed by summer fruit, almost tropical – ending with a lasting banana and maraschino and a clean finish. An excellent digestivo to cleanse the palate.

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La Ramate is where this 20 year labour of love shines: the three grappas are aged in Slavonian oak.

The Three year old Riserva has a nose of cacao and cherry, the palate is rich with wood. Much softer than the Extrafina, it is filled with butterscotch, cooked plums and peaches, enjoyable and surprisingly mature for its age. The three year is designed to be served with sharp cheeses and bitter dark chocolates.

The Seven year old Riserva stands out as my favourite of the lot! Powerful and spicy on the nose, it goes down dangerously easily. Szechuan spice and tobacco leaf dance with sour cherry to a honeyed finish, long and persistent. Adore.
The Seven year is paired well with sweeter desserts with its cocoa nuances.

Finally, the Fifteen year old Riserva is quite unlike anything I’ve had before. Intense and relentless, drier than the others but powerfully woody and rich with nutty flavour. Hints of vanilla and chocolate cut through the tobacco bitterness. I admire it’s complexity, and with its demanding and smokey flavour, it pairs well with cigars and dark chocolate.

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And there we have it! A great place to start for those who still want to get to know grappa, or those who already know her well. These new releases by Nardini are a sure-fire way to introduce you to grappa, and that 7 year Riserva will be on my own shelf soon enough.

London Cocktail Week ’17 Day 3: Soho & the City

Welcome one and all to London Cocktail Week 2017! Wield a pass on your smartphone DrinkUp London app and enjoy the discounts/events that LCW has to offer!

This year the Hoodooist will be bringing you #YourDailyDoseOfHoodoo, a multi-part review of each day of London Cocktail Week ’17, as well as daily coverage on our Instagram @highballhoodoo.

Today we look at 2 days out this LCW: Where the Hoodooist tackled Soho and the City!

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Let’s start with some of our regulars in Soho!

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The Propitious, by Jinjuu

Jinjuu Soho:

Once you find a way not accidentally bungle the name of the cocktail up thanks to be over-caffeinated because you passed Soho Grind twice already, Korean after-work hotspot Jinjuu Soho serves the Propitious: one of it’s two LCW17 offerings.

Chrysanthemum-infused Soju, Green Chartreuse, Green tea reduction, #Korean plum #wine, plum bitters, and prune dust makes for a velvety and powerfully perfumed cocktail.

We begin with notes of the Green Chartreuse, followed by the green tea, and then a sudden wave of the Chrysanthemum – strong and potent. A momentary respite with plum wine, but then the Chrysanthemum is back to dominate. I’m not quite to sure what to make of this drink. The first half is almost too difficult to drink, it ignores ‘floral’ and goes straight to ‘spraying perfume into your mouth because it’s been that kind of day’.

Later, the plum wine emerges a bit more, but a little too late.

The second option is the Kimchi Bloody Mary and Korean Fried Chicken, which we covered last year.

A short walk away, we’re down at MASH!

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Dr. Miroslav’s Cold Remedy, by MASH

Everyone knows the Hoodooist loves MASH.

The fab Miro and team at MASH give us Dr. Miroslav’s Cold Remedy, a mix of Tito’s Vodka, ginger syrup, peach puree, lemon juice, and a touch of manzanilla sherry.

What I quite loved about the Remedy was it managing to be simple, but effective – which was refreshing with so many the bars in Soho which were trying so hard to impress they were going all over the shop.

An opening hit of light ginger spice, peach saunters in, and then lingering hints of dry sherry. Served in a chilled copper glass that keeps the drink wonderfully cold. Just what we needed. And if that isn’t enough for you, knowing that a pound from each order of the Remedy is donated to Guide Dogs should be an incentive to definitely try this offer.
Puppies.
Puppies.

Make sure to try the snacks and starters while you’re here – beef tartare with crisps is always a great combo.

And a short walk away in Covent Garden we arrive at…

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The Martell Gourmand, by BOKI

Boki serves the Martell Gourmand: a Martell Cognac mini Sazerac with a glass of Martell VS Single Distillery Cognac, paired with pistachio ice cream and cardamom biscuit.

I’m not quite sure what Boki is trying to do: either as a venue or as drink. In any case, it seems the head bartenders decided to pre-bottle their Sazeracs (what?), and put a load of lemon juice in it. Why this was decided was beyond me.

Sazeracs are… not easy. The short and simple ingredient list is deceptive, but the key to it is practice until it is muscle memory. Our kind bartender, Daniel, responded to our feedback well and remade it without any lemon, giving us a half decent Sazerac (good job for a first try).

Cardamom biscuit and pistachio ice cream paired surprisingly well with measure of Martell, ending on a great pairing note.

Next, we put on our hiking boots and head down to Blackfriars to find…

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Big Trouble in Little Cynar, by COLD

The City of London Distillery is a good place to come down with friends to prepare your own gin in their in house gin lab and distillery.

And this LCW, they presented the Big Trouble on Little Cynar: City of London Square Mile Gin, Cynar artichoke liqueur, apricot brandy, lemon juice, and vanilla salt.

The first sip is a shock, the tartness might be a bit much, but it is easy to get used to. Apricot, followed by the savoury Cynar (one of my favourite ingredients), ending with more tart stone fruit flavours.

I highly recommend eating the provided bar snacks of chilli nuts, since this enhances the orange sweetness of the drink, and even accentuates the otherwise hidden vanilla.

Head down to Monument station, to find Mber!

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Mber is serving the Cloud Nine: Sipsmith London dry gin, yuzu liqueur, orange bitters, lemon juice topped with a white chocolate foam.

Alternatively, for an extra 9 quid, you can take a walk on the wild side and get the cocktail plus a series of exciting bites:
-Zebra Loin Tataki with kizami wasabi mousse, satay cured egg, roasted grapes, parmesan-nori popcorn, and teriyaki sauce
-Grilled kangaroo steak Tagalog with smoked aubergine & tahini, edamame hummus, moromi-miso chimichurri and grilled pita bread
-Pork Katsu kare with panko bread crumbs, glazed apples and fennel chutney

The cocktail is a great aperitif of lemon and orange tempered by the white chocolate foam, however I would have quite enjoyed the inclusion of cardamom in the cocktail as well, to help round off the citrus.

The bites are wonderful, particularly the pork kare, whose flavours complement one another without attempting to outdo each other (in contrast to the zebra loin, which felt a bit blurry).

I highly recommend stopping for the Petit Fours as well! Great selection.

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Alright! That’s our recap of Soho and the City of London Cocktail Week 2017!

All in all, I feel in comparison to the East London stars we covered in yesterday’s post, Soho and the City could have done better. However, kudos to MASH for preparing a drink that came in with a plan in mind, and lived up to it. Sometimes simplicity with a bit of kick is all one needs. Similar, with the Kimchi Bloody Mary by Jinjuu, which is far better than their Propitious Chrysanthemum cocktail.

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.

We will be putting up summaries of some of the tastings and masterclasses we visited this week, and hope to see you this Saturday and Sunday at the Tequila and Mezcal Fest!

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London Cocktail Week ’17 Day 1&2: East London

Welcome one and all to the recap of the first two days of London Cocktail Week 2017! Wield a pass on your smartphone DrinkUp London app and enjoy the discounts/events that LCW has to offer!

This year the Hoodooist will be bringing you #YourDailyDoseOfHoodoo, a multi-part review of each day of London Cocktail Week ’17, as well as daily coverage on our Instagram @highballhoodoo.

Today we look at 2 days out this LCW: Where the Hoodooist tackled East London!
This is gonna be a long one, folks, strap yourselves in.

 

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Let’s see what’s happening in East London! Central maybe have been a bit hit and miss, but East is winning.

There’s a hell of a lot going on here, so we had to divide it into two separate articles, Part 1 gives us more of Old Street and a bit of Dalston:

After a coffee and cognac pairing with Courvoisier at Joyeux Bordel, we begin our cocktail journey at Black Rock!

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Talisker Remember the Maine, by Black Rock

The Talisker Remember the Maine is a twist on the classic with Talisker Whisky Distillers Edition Amoroso Cask Scotch, Bulleit Rye, home made spicy cherry liqueur and Cocchi Di Torino sweet vermouth, and a spray of absinthe on the side of the glass.

What a beautiful cocktail – the first spicy hit of rye makes way for the Talisker with it’s cream sherry barrel of fruit and light smoke, the wave of cherry and rich fruit, bitter orange peels and cocoa – ending once again on the Talisker cream sherry cask finish scotch.

As time passes, the drink becomes increasingly aromatic. Love.

Short walk away, we find ourselves at Scout!

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The Jerusalem Artichoke, by Scout

Now this was fascinating.

The Jerusalem Artichoke: Bombay Sapphire gin, Jerusalem Artichoke, Malt and coffee soda.

A complex long drink is always an interesting find. First, the coffee fizz, sudden and invigorating. Then, the malt, shamelessly mellowing the texture. This makes way for the nutty, powerfully earthy flavour of the Jerusalem Artichoke and a hint of gin – then returning to the malt and coffee.

Stunning work, adore.

Sadly, the Operation Dagger takeover downstairs didn’t start for a little longer, so I decided to return another time – until then, head up to Dalston for…

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This Spartan joint hands us the slightly NSFW and appropriately named Satyr: Sour plum infused vodka, verjus and soda; served with cured duck in a liquorice teriyaki sauce.

First thought: Red Haribo. Seemingly light at first, but deceptive. Heavy plum and bright effervescent fruit and citrus. The cured duck is a great fatty dish to temper the alcohol as we ended up staying for a session into the early hours.

We turn in for the night, preparing us for the next day in the Wild East, on…

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Day 2: Shoreditch

After a fab tasting at the Buffalo Trace Bourbon Empire at the Looking Glass Cocktail Club, we begin our afternoon at the Cocktail Trading Company!

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The Highest Incarnation of The Revolutionary Cognacship, by CTC

In keeping with their quirky serves, the CTC presents The Highest Incarnation of The Revolutionary Cognacship ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Hennessy VS cognac, sweetened rice milk and smoked lapsang tea, with a garnish of grated nutmeg. Feedback that the nutmeg was too overpowering was taken well. Once past that, the drink bursts into smoky lapsang on sides of the tongue, washed over with rice milk, nutty and oaky cognac. Very reminiscent of a light Brandy Alexander.

I don’t know if this was my favourite drink. It felt a bit watery, and the flavours were a tiny bit all over the place. But a brave drink nonetheless.

Further South on Wentworth St, one salted caramel hot chocolate later…

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White Heat, by 46 & Mercy

The White Heat by 46 & Mercy is a fascinating one.

Buffalo Trace Bourbon infused with white chocolate & white pepper, bitters and lemon oil results in a twist on an Old Fashioned with a powerful lemon nose. The first sip brings in the bourbon and sweet white chocolate, but do not worry, the sweetness is not overpowering. Next, the pepperiness comes in, white pepper spice hits the throat and coats the tongue, reviving you from the fear of too much chocolate. The finish is citrusy, and a lingering spice. Gorgeous.

A hop two streets to the West later, we end the evening with…

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Benandonner, by Discount Suit Co.

Discount Suit Co.! The Benandonner has Elements of Islay Whisky PEAT, Ruby Port, millionaire syrup and lemon.

The initial caramel sweetness lets in the Islay barbecue flavours. Here comes the ruby port, followed by Islay smoke and brine. Finally, lingering fruit and sugar, hints of cinnamon. A beautiful way to end and evening after a meal.

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Alright! That’s our recap of East London of London Cocktail Week 2017! 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.

See you tomorrow for coverage of LCW17 Part 2: Soho and the City!

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London Mezcal Week 2017!

A Celebration of Mezcal, Mexican Culture, Art & Food
11th – 17th September 2017
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Okay, so you *KNOW* this is gonna the best week for agavephiles, and a great excuse to get your friends who’re still scared of mezcal into the game.

Taking place from Monday 11th to Sunday 17th September across London, the first official London Mezcal Week will be a series of events in London that celebrate Mezcal, Mexican culture, art and food, ending with a two-day tasting festival and Mexico Independence Day celebration.

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Organised by two of London’s most exciting Mezcal enthusiasts, Thea Cumming and Melanie Symonds, the founders of Dangerous Don and Quiquiriqui Mezcals respectively, the series of events will be produced by Lucie Massey, who organises the sell-out pop-up series Slap Ya Papa. Together, the trio hope to provide a platform for all kinds of people to explore the culture of traditional Mezcal production, as well as taking a closer look at Mexican art, film and food.

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Throughout the week, a series of social events in venues across the city will champion the diverse creativity of Mexico as well as the magical story of the agave plant, from which Mezcal is made. From art exhibitions and panel discussions, to the creation of a Mexican mural, mezcal masterclasses and food pairings, each event will uncover
the fascinating world of Mezcal and its place in Mexican culture.

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The series of events are as follows:
Monday – A Mezcal Pairing Dinner with Edson Diaz-Fuentes, at his restaurant Santo Remedio

Tuesday – Mezcal sampler with Mezcal Master Jon Anders at Santo restaurant

Wednesday – Panel Discussion “The Future of Mezcal” and Blind Tasting at The Bloomsbury Club Bar
Wednesday – Coffee, Chocolate & Mezcal tasting at Wahaca, Charlotte Street

Thursday – Bartender’s Brunch at Café Pacifico
Thursday– El Grito! At Pop Brixton

Friday – Independence day party at Club Makossa

Saturday – Tasting Festival at Unit 5 Gallery & Yard
Sunday -Tasting Festival at Unit 5 Gallery & Yard

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The headline Mezcal festival, held over 2 days in Hackney, will feature the UK’s biggest ever Mezcal tasting, where ticket holders can taste over 50 mezcals from 30 brands and talk to many of the faces behind the brands.

Independent brands are given precedence at this festival, which will be focusing on traditionally made mezcals and the families behind them. A proportion of ticket sales will go towards charities working within the agave community. For those looking to make a day of it, there will also be an array of Mexican street food, a mezcal bar
serving cocktails, beers and more, and a programme of art, DJS and live music over the weekend event. Some of London’s best Mexican restaurants will be involved including Bad Sports, Santo Remedio and Temper.

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So what are you waiting for? Book those tickets and remember to leave the salt and lime at the door. This is a sipping zone.

https://www.londonmezcalweek.com