The Spirit of Sharing 2017, @ The Embassy of Ireland

Some of you might be gearing up for the craziness of this year’s St. Paddy’s Day (cough Sun Tavern), but whether or not you’re still wearing (feeling) green (or still pretending to be Irish), this year’s explosion of Irish whiskeys and poitins onto the London cocktail scene is making some of the Scots lowkey panic.

As for the English whisky distilleries..Well. Um.

Anyway.

We now enter the ballroom of the Irish Embassy, South Ken, where the Bord Bia Irish food board and brought in some of the biggest, and growing, names in Irish spirits to taste, in the company of fab bartenders from Loves Company and LCC!

Ireland Irish London Spirit of Sharing Stout Cocktails Whiskey Poitin

Let’s have a stroll and look at some of the outstanding spirits we have on show today!

Before the whiskey classics, let’s get on to whiskey’s ancient ancestor and fairly recent and exciting on the London scene – the potent Poitin has been released after its four century long ban from 1997.

Ireland Irish London Spirit of Sharing Stout Cocktails Whiskey Poitin

The Glendalough Sherry Cask Poitin – Picture courtesy of: http://www.glendaloughdistillery.com

Stored in virgin Irish Oak, the Glendalough Poitin range provides variety.

The standard Glendalough Poitin comes with a similar bread palate, with pepper and oak, with a subtle creaminess. The (wonderful!) Sherry Cask Finished Poitin has a beautiful nose of orange and spicy sweetness, a toasty palate of fruit and spice, and long sherry finish. Finally, the Mountain Strength is bold with barley, fruit and oak. Spectacular stuff.

Ireland Irish London Spirit of Sharing Stout Cocktails Whiskey Poitin

On the note of strong drops, St. Patrick’s Distillery Moonshine will put a bit of pep in your step.
How about something a little different? We’re seeing a lot of gin from Ireland, and one of the more intriguing ones is Drumshanbo Gunpowder Gin: A bright citrus of lime and lemon before giving way to deeper spices and the characteristic gunpowder tea. Great if you like your gins spicy without getting too Opihr-esque.

 

Ireland Irish London Spirit of Sharing Stout Cocktails Whiskey Poitin

The blurry Teeling Trio

Of course Teeling is here!

We know the Single Malt: Light, peppery, cinnamon – peppered with floral notes. The Single Grain is more adventurous: Be ready for cereal flavours with spice and treacle, custard plays around here too. A spry spirit, that. Finally, the gorgeous Small Batch: rich with floral notes, spiced with cinnamon and other herbs, a creamy creme brulee at the end. Wonderful and flamboyant.

Ireland Irish London Spirit of Sharing Stout Cocktails Whiskey Poitin

On whiskeys, got to give a second to Hyde’s 1922 Rum Finish Single Malt – the rum cask gives this whiskey a twist with tropical fruit, and stronger vanilla notes.

Ireland Irish London Spirit of Sharing Stout Cocktails Whiskey Poitin

The Dublin Liberties Oak Devil – Picture courtesy of: http://www.marblehead.uk.com/

They say an oak-carved devil stood over the gates of a place nicknamed Hell in the Liberties of Dublin. They also say that oak was soon used for whiskey barrels – explaining the name of The Dublin Liberties‘s whiskey: Oak Devil. Expect a lot of caramel, spice and pepper, followed by warm winter notes of Christmas. Love this little tipple.

Ireland Irish London Spirit of Sharing Stout Cocktails Whiskey Poitin

Let’s end the night with Harry Gerakis’ gorgeous customised cocktail! A mix of Dubliner whiskey, Angostura Orange bitters, ginger syrup and chilli tincture: a sweet, deep, spicy and rich concoction made the perfect nightcap.

Get yourselves ready for St. Patrick’s day!

T.T. Liquor, Shoreditch

Type of Bar: Basement, Speakeasy, Cocktail School
Damage£ – ££
Ideal for: After Work, Date, Small Groups, Tasting, Shop

The sudden appearance of TT Liquor is a welcome gift from some of the folk behind Umbrella Brewing of the amazing Discount Suit Co. and Sun Tavern!

Only a couple of hours after the sign was put up, the Hoodooist found himself amazed by the venue from the street – aged wood and metal clasps in the ground floor guard some of the fantastic products that can be surprisingly hard to acquire, like the 5% ginger beer by Umbrella Brewing that is the talk of the town.

Umbrella Brewing TT Liquor London cocktail bar

Mind, there are three floors to this venue, behind the store and upstairs are cocktail classrooms that make up what is essentially a cocktail school – this is literally my Hogwarts.

Downstairs, though, that’s where we find the bar and the ex-prison cells that make up the vaults where gin, rum, and whiskey tastings are held, including Cocktail Journeys, where several cocktails inspired by the various eras of cocktail culture are enjoyed as a flight. The cosy, candle lit surrounds are excellent for huddling over cocktails and small dishes served up at the venue.

Umbrella Brewing TT Liquor London cocktail bar

The menu is divided into eras, and are all wonderful takes on cocktails of their time. If you were to level a criticism against it, it would simply be that it seems to be a tiny bit gin heavy at times.

That’s not to say those that those cocktails that are there are not satisfying. They are gorgeous – the tequila Rosetta is one such beautiful cocktail.

Umbrella Brewing TT Liquor London cocktail bar

Blending Arette Silver tequila, Briotte Rose, lime juice, rose water and syrup, the Rosetta’s nose is distinctly Arette. Upon first sip, it is tequila heavy – so agave fans will be most pleased. If the sound of rose is intimidating, there is nothing to worry about here, as the rose is quite subtle and soft, wisping in at the end, and lightened by the lime citrus.

Next, the Dorian, in keeping with one of Umbrella’s favourite whiskeys, mixes Redbreast 12 yr with hazelnut syrup and the Fee Brothers Aztec chocolate bitters. A little bit on the sweet side and one note for myself, it is best to ask for a slightly less sweet take on this when ordering. Unless, of course, you’re really in the mood for bittersweet chocolate hazelnut!

Umbrella Brewing TT Liquor London cocktail bar

The Dorian

Next, the Sexy Kung Fu Fighter really goes for it – Jinzu gin meets kumquat, fresh bergamot juice, kaffir lime and shiso leaves, Belsazar white vermouth and syrup. A little heavy on the bergamot, a bright, lively and effervescent cocktail with hints of kaffir lime and cherry blossom from the Jinzu. An exciting and enjoyable drink.

Umbrella Brewing TT Liquor London cocktail bar

The Sexy Kung Fu Fighter

Le Chat Noir is dangerous. Hayman’s Old Tom gin, Lillet Blanc, Henry Bardouin pastis, fresh lime juice, syrup and tarragon will deceive you, and vanish in the space of seconds. A long drink that is easy to down, you will have to consciously nurse this one early on, so they don’t get thrown back late in the evening.

Reminiscent of a (much) lighter take on a Corpse Reviver No.2, Le Chat Noir manages to channel the herbal tarragon and pastis incredibly well, for a light cocktail that does not hold itself from packing a punch in the long run.

Umbrella Brewing TT Liquor London cocktail bar

Le Chat Noir

And then there is the signature.

Doing the rounds since about London Cocktail Week 2016, the home made Umbrella Brewing Ginger Beer packs a punch at 5%, with gorgeous effervescence and spice. A candied and ginger nose is followed by a palate that is uncompromisingly spicy, with hints of malty molasses sweetness, and citrus.

Beautiful.

Umbrella Brewing TT Liquor London cocktail bar

Honestly, it was great to see cocktails go back to simpler combos and try not to outdo themselves.

The only cocktail here I can say I did not take to was the Dead Ringer. Woodford Reserve, Toussaint coffee liqueur and Bob’s Peppermint bitters formed something not particularly enjoyable. But when held up to the beautiful cocktails above, who’s to care?

Do the right thing – go to TT Liquor. Get a class. Buy a bottle. Support your fabulous new local.

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

T. T. Liquor

17b Kingsland Road,
London E2 8AA

http://ttliquor.co.uk/

The Gibson, Clerkenwell

Type of Bar: Tiny, Experimental
Damage: ££ – £££
Ideal for: DateAfter Work

After being open for a while, The Gibson, known for it’s complex and imaginative menu highlighted by the simple classic that is its namesake, went for a small menu rehaul.

The new cocktails are similarly complex, boasting nearly a dozen ingredients at some points, taking risks with flavour profiles.

A first glance at the menu did make the Hoodooist a bit cautious, I am bit of a traditionalist with warning that drinks going past 5 ingredients were at risk for getting lost, but that won’t stop me from trying out new cocktails.

A tiny, intimate venue, with dim light and close range seating, the Gibson has gone for a powerfully apothecary atmosphere, reflecting its equally strange and varied menu, including everything from oregano flowers to the infusion of forest bees.

whisky cocktail the gibson bar london

The Garden of the Sun King

Beginning with a cocktail very much up the Hoodooist’s street, the Garden of the Sun King mixes Ailsa Bay whisky, infusion of forest bees, 3 La Quintinye Royal vermouths, lemon balm and leaf extract aged aquavit, maple ice wine tea and white port tincture, garnished with floregano, roasted pepper jacket and black olive.

Get the gist? Yeah.

The nose is undoubtedly full of red pepper, smokey and almost beefy. First sip is full of the tarry, smokey, liquorice of Ailsa Bay, followed by a light honey from the bee infusion. A lightness follows, from the lemon balm, then the white port. If you choose to dunk the red pepper in, a spice trails at the end. You want to finish this drink quickly – over time the sweetness begins to dominate the bottom half of the drink

whiskey cocktail the gibson bar london

Beyond the Pines

Next up, the Beyond the Pines. Loving pine flavours, this had to be tried. Monkey Shoulder whiskey and pine resin infusion, mixed with Kamm & Sons ginseng liqueur, lemon, ‘pine-apple’, elderflower juice, smoked juniper and rosemary honey, hot gooseberry chutney, ginger beer, wasabi, and matcha.

Thanks to the pine and flaming pinecone garnish, the nose is powerfully forest-y. In the best way. Palate starts with pine, smoked rosemary and juniper. There is a light effervescence to it, immediately followed by ginger and matcha, with a length of wasabi.

This was easily my favourite drink of the evening. Distinguishable flavours, cool and refreshing.

genever cocktail the gibson bar london

Winter in Neverland

Finally, the Winter in Wonderland was a great example as to why a dozen ingredients can be majorly problematic.

Cacao shell soaked Bols Genever, Mulled spiced cordial vintage cider, apple and pear conserve, lemon, 7 y.o. mandarin bitter, white snow waffle topped with raspberry and chocolate, cedarwood ice.

A cold drink the nose was spiced and citrus-y. But the drink was orange throughout, with the variety of flavours drowned out.

The stroopwaffel was ace, though.

cocktail the gibson bar london

Angel Tears

There is a food menu, with an exquisite beef tartare – love. Service is fab, however preparing these complex cocktails takes a while, so do be prepared. On the note of fab service, it has to be, as I found myself asking for flavour profiles being far more useful than reading the variety of ingredients. This can be difficult when working with a menu that is one of the longest I’ve seen in recent history.

The Gibson is a great bar for those who want to take risks and have the money to spend, there are certainly some gems like the Beyond the Pines here. I know I had a good night – but you do have to take risks and keep what you get. With the great staff, you shouldn’t have too much of a problem getting the flavour profiles down and chatting about what you enjoy.

And push comes to shove, order the Gibson Martini.

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

The Gibson

44 Old St,
London EC1V 9AQ.

Burlock, Marylebone

Type of Bar: Rum
Damage££
Ideal for: Small Groups, Date

Yeah, I’m late to the Burlock party, sue me.

Until I got there and regretted not going earlier.

Burlock is London’s latest rum bar on Duke St Mayfair, and how gorgeous it is. In a basement, the ingenious lighting and décor evokes a secluded rum den in sunset Havana, up to a rather random hair station in one corner – with the occasional hairdresser for the customers!

Bizarre, yes, but we ain’t here for the hair, let’s get down to business.

London Cocktails Burlock

The Rum-ember the Maine

A quick look at the crowd, and this is definitely Marylebone. The space is dark and romantic, definitely a good option for choice friends for a night cap.

Cosying up on an armchair underneath the lit blinds, we peruse the menu, and the Rum-ember the Maine catches my eye. Mezan XO rum, cherry brandy, Martini Rosso, IPA, Cornish Pastis (yes), and Embers. I asked the server to turn down the cherry brandy because I was expecting this to be a tad too sweet for me, but I wish I also asked for more pastis. A bit too much taking place here, and the much of the flavour gets drowned out. A hint of the pastis comes through in the liquorice linger after, but mangled sweetness dominate the heft of the palate.

The Canchanchara suffers similarly. White rum, lime and honey, but entirely too much honey. The result is sugar sweet.

London Cocktails Burlock

Good old Rum Old Fashioned

The short and exceedingly sweet leaning menu meant we went off-menu and so glad we did!

A regular Daiquiri came off much better balanced and wonderfully tart, frosty and uplifting, exactly what the Hoodooist needed! Sometimes simpler is better.

Similarly, I wanted to relax after that effervescent cocktail, and wanted to see how Burlock handles a reliable classic.

A Rum Old Fashioned it is, asking for the rum menu it turns out the bar does not have one, which is one thing I wish was done – but wandering off to the bar, asked for Plantation XO Barbados 20th Anniversary.

Love, love, love this cocktail.

The spicy tropical fruit and banana wafts on the nose, hints of oak. Spice and coconut on the palate, velvety and luxurious. Caramel lingers after. Gorgeous.

London Cocktails Burlock

We end a wonderful evening with doubles of Plantation Pineapple (easily the toast of 2016), with it’s ripe banana and pineapple flavours with a light spice. Relaxing into the folds of the couch, this was an evening well spent.

If I *had* to be more critical, really, all I’d say is the menu could use a bit more flavour variety, unique though it may be.

Service is spot on, booking is necessary. Burlock is a welcome addition to a bar scene in a year where London has lost many giants. The Hoodooist is optimistic once again.

 

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


Burlock

31 Duke St, Marylebone,
London W1U 1LG

https://burlocklondon.co.uk/

 

Highland Park Midwinter Social

THURSDAY 24TH NOVEMBER – FINNEBASSEN WITH SUPPORT FROM KIPP$

FRIDAY 25TH NOVEMBER – EELKE KLEIJN WITH SUPPORT FROM KIPP$

Highland Park, the Orkney Single Malt with #VikingSoul, is taking over The Boiler House for their Midwinter Social to celebrate the longer nights in anticipation of Winter Solstice. You will be transported into an Orkney-themed urban oasis where opposites clash to create a breath-taking environment, to enjoy an evening of feasting, socialising and enjoying Highland Park.

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Highland Park will evoke this Viking Soul by featuring a variety of food vendors curated by Root + Bone, tales from the distillery around the fire pit, torchlight tasting sessions, and more. World renowned DJs Finnebassen, Eelke Kleijn and Kipps will be providing the soundtrack to the evenings. Plus you’ll get a free drink on arrival to make sure your evening gets off to a good start. Actually, that’s not enough. We’ll throw in a second drink each.

Two complimentary drinks are included in the ticket price.

Get your tickets at:
https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/highland-park-midwinter-social-tickets-28940680354?aff=es2

Pitch Black

“The 90-minute blind tasting will see guests sip on a pre-set selection of 5 libations.  Consisting of bubbles on arrival, 2 mouth-watering cocktails, an amuse bouche to cleanse the palate, followed by 2 aromatic wines, to be imbibed in absolute darkness.”

‘Blind tasting’ taken to its literal and logical conclusion means drinking in a subterranean room on City Road in complete darkness – have to admit, I was curious, and found myself learning a lot in the process!

Pitch Black cocktails blind tasting

The cocktails and wines will change week to week throughout its run November and December 2016, and is an excellent learning experience for drinks novices and experts alike.

Led down a stairway into a cosy room, we rest on the banquettes as the 8 of us get to know each other – but as the lights dim and eventually go dark, we find inhibitions dissolving and conversations with the others in the room enlivening.

To be fair, the drinks probably helped too.

Novices will get a chance to pay closer attention to finer details like nose, flavour, and mouthfeel, whereas experts will find themselves approaching some well known classics with a renewed appreciation for the drink.

Cocktails and wines will be served, with no hint as to what they are, as participants explore the drinks and discuss flavour and ideas. At the end of each session the drinks are revealed and explained in further detail to surprise.

A Breakfast Martini can have some surprisingly herbal flavours in the dark, and a Pisco Sour a spicier nose than one first thought. An amuse bouche to be enjoyed before moving onto the wines: a naturally sweet Riesling and a devious blend of reds, before a final glass of bubbly to enjoy.

Pitch Black does exactly what it says on the tin, and is well worth the experience. Darkness heightens not only the senses, but the social aspect of the evening, and will be educational to all participants of any level of expertise. I highly suggest you sign up for a fun evening with friends, entertaining parents, or a date, for something just a little bit different.

Tickets cost £48 per head and can be purchased at: http://pitchblackbar.com/

Herman ze German, Fitzrovia

Type of Bar: Bar/Restaurant
Damage£-££
Ideal for: FoodSmall Groups

 

 

Late nights and stomach-lining before drinks is our first thought when we think ‘Herman ze German‘, but why wait? Especially when the branch at Charlotte Street now serves it’s own drinks?

A cocktail menu has found its way into the basement bar and dining area, serving up twists on classics to go with some new menu additions!

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The mixed drinks inject some German traditional fare like the German Fritz Co’s drinks.

Some classics like the Aperol Spritz and a Margarita (using Tequila Ocho) are always solid crowd pleasers, others, like the Gin Melon, mix  Beefeater gin, lemongrass and Fritz Melon. The Fritz honey melon mixer could use more of the spice from the lemongrass, but makes for a fun light drink for the summer.

 

Here on out, things might go a bit pear-shaped for those who don’t have a massive sweet tooth. The Mish Mashed brings Asbach rye whiskey to Fritz MischMasch, a German cola/orange soda hybrid, and it’s about as confusing as it sounds. Similarly, the Cherry Bomb dessert drink mixes Fritz Cherry, Asbach brandy and chocolate liqueur for something entirely too sweet and sickly.

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However, the food is on point and delightfully indulgent. The new Bratmeister brings a major twist to HzG’s traditional menu: the signature Black Forrest bratwurst is garnished with freshly roasted veggies, aged feta and topped off with homemade veal gravy. It still needs to live up to the undeniably cheesy goodness of their schnitzel, though.

 

Service in this basement is excellent, and really is what made our visit – and why HzG manages to be a fun place to chill with friends over some currywurst. Even if 7 quid for spirits and mixer is a tad steep.

 

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

 

Herman ze German

43 Charlotte St, Fitzrovia, 
London W1T 1RS

http://www.hermanzegerman.com/