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/

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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/

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/

46 & Mercy, Shoreditch

Type of BarBasement, Quirky
Damage££
Ideal for: Date, Small Groups, Large Groups, Food

 

Food spot HotBox hides a beautiful secret in its basement: 46 & Mercy is a quirky, eclectic venue with a very distinct vibe and *incredible* Asian-style chicken wings. Reclining on beds with a cocktail in a strangly 80s Scandinavia space while surrounded by quality art, 46 & Mercy was way ahead of the 2016 curve with the big, but well controlled, presence of sherry in their drinks.

Photo courtesy of: http://drinkup.london.com

 

A favourite of the evening was being served: the Blessed Thistle brought together Ketel One vodka, Cocchi Americano vermouth washed with smoked pork fat & thyme, sherry vinegar.

Spectacular, everything is taken into consideration here (well, the nose can be a bit strong, if you want to nitpick). A fascinating twist on a vodka Martini, the washing lends to the cocktail a velvety smoothness and ease of drinking, as well as depth and herbaceous quality that goes to well with the floral Ketel One vodka. The sherry vinegar is a little bit of cheeky kick. An ambitious, and very successful, drink.

 

London Cocktail Week 46 and Mercy

The Blessed Thistle

Next, the Rye Me to the Moon mixes Bulleit rye whiskey, Amontillado sherry, bay leaf syrup, Abbott’s Bitters – The sweet spicy nose of the cocktail opens to the flavours of powerful cherry from the whiskey, immediately after the spice of the bay leaf towers over the simmering softness of the sherry sweetness. In the distance a spicy quinine bitterness sizzles. Certainly more sweet than spicy, this smooth cocktail is a fantastic choice for lovers of an Old Fashioned.

 

Finally, the Stirred Mercy Brown goes for scotch: Glenmorangie whisky, black tea infused Amatro, Oloroso sherry, sweet vermouth. Now this is fun, with barely a hint of the whisky citrus, the black tea immediately muscles in. Once that dominating tea backs down, the whisky’s orange and citrus is allowed to play along with the dry sherry and the winter spices of the sweet vermouth. Long, balanced, silky. Gorgeous.

 

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Rye Me to the Moon

The cocktails here at 46 & Mercy definitely shine, but so does the service. Bartenders are swift, conversational, humorous and so much fun – and are very happy to walk you through the menu and chat about the drinks. The Hoodooist chides himself for not hanging out here more often, you definitely want to come by here.

Although, be careful about leaning forward from the reclining chairs!

 

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

 

46 & Mercy

46 Commercial St, Shoreditch,
London E1 6LT

http://www.46andmercy.com/

W. M. Barker & Co., Bishopsgate

Type of BarBasement
Damage££
Ideal for: Date, Small Groups, Large GroupsAfter Work

 

Notorious for either its history or its name, the popular Dirty Dicks a stone’s throw from Liverpool Street Station has transformed its basement into an all new, all day cocktail bar and cafe.

Serving up toasties, coffee, craft beers and cocktails makes this a great ‘pop in anytime’ kinda spot, which is perfect for the City surroundings. Besides great coffee and bites, the cocktail menu takes a daring step with all the drinks being shrub-based. Shrubs, normally served as acidic aperitifs, can be sweetened dramatically depending on the infusion, and on the other ingredients in the cocktail.

WM Barker Dirty Dicks Bishopsgate City Cocktail bar

WM Barker & Co., goes for the sweeter. In fact, the whole cocktail list is made with primarily sweet drinks. Each cocktail is named after nearby area, marking the bar as the boundary between City and Shoreditch, attempting to appeal to both markets.

WM Barker Dirty Dicks Bishopsgate City Cocktail bar Poitin

#TheBanker

Beginning with the Bank #TheBanker, we find a unique combo of Absolut vodka, Sherry vinegar, Ban Poitin, champagne syrup, milk, cream, raisin bitters. Now this is bizarre – served in a milk bottle, the first sip is a massive wallop of a hundred flavours at once, till you go in for a second.

Sweet, yes, creamy, oh yes – this certainly is a dessert drink that begins with a pleasing sherry vinegar bite to cut through all the cream. After, it, literally, there is no other comparison: it’s liquid bread pudding.

Honestly, that is exactly it. It finishes off with a lingering champagne syrup.

For someone who normally does not go for sweet drinks, the Hoodooist was oddly charmed by this. Probably the most unique cocktail on the menu.

WM Barker Dirty Dicks Bishopsgate City Cocktail bar Rye Whiskey

#TheInvestor

To go in for something a bit more balanced after the Bank, we ordered the Bishopsgate #TheInvestor: Rittenhouse Rye, La Fee absinthe, peach, peach bitters, mint, sugar. Sounding much more classic Sazerac/Julep, the likes of something that would not be amiss at the Buffalo Bourbon Empire.

However, bitter it is not – I think this cocktail could do with stepping back on the sugar syrup, the bittersweet is followed by a caramelly thickness which one assumes is coming from a lot of sugar syrup. Absinthe aniseed slowly develops. I suppose I went in with a certain expectation of this drink, I’d like to see the spice of the rye playing more of a part.

WM Barker Dirty Dicks Bishopsgate City Cocktail bar gin

#ThePriest

St. Pauls #ThePriest really stands out from the menu with its sour profile: Whitley Neill gin, Green Chartreuse, maraschino, cucumber, cucumber shrub, lime juice, sugar, cucumber ribbon and cornichon. It’s wonderfully heavy on the Chartreuse, which is unmissable as first. Wonderfully tart, the sweetness of the cucumber and maraschino do set in, and if you pay close attention, the unique botanicals of the Whitley Neill are present in the background. A nice change from the sweetness so far.

WM Barker Dirty Dicks Bishopsgate City Cocktail bar Vodka Gin

Foreground: #ThePriest, #TheTrader
Background: #ThePhotographer

Hoxton #ThePhotographer is, unfortunately, a drink I don’t see myself ordering again. Sipsmith Gin, Sipsmith Sloe Gin, apricot liqueur, pomegranate shrub, lime juice, shortbread crumble rim. Sound wonderful, but really, the shortbread rim is the best part. The overwhelming sugar content of the cocktail, though, is choking.

WM Barker Dirty Dicks Bishopsgate City Cocktail bar Bourbon whiskey

However, all is not lost: The delightful Craig behind the bar will knock out one of the best Maker’s Mark Old Fashioneds if you ask nicely. A great way to polish off the evening, and change from the Hoxton.

WM Barker Dirty Dicks Bishopsgate City Cocktail bar Halloween

Tarot XIII – #Death

Finally, with Halloween just around the corner, WM Barker will be releasing a Halloween special on the day!

The Tarot XIII – #Death, comes with all the dark sweetness you’d expect of the holiday: Muddled sour cherries, sour cherry shrub, sherry, Kahlua, Port, and Tia Maria, topped off with Schweppes. I will have to admit, this cocktail does have a lot going on in terms of depth, with all the layers of dry fruit from the sherry, the coffee from the Kahlua, et al. But the unmissable, striking flavour is the intensely sour-sweet sour cherries. It is distinctly Halloween, and probably also has the sugar content of a bag of trick-or-treating candy.

WM Barker Dirty Dicks Bishopsgate City Cocktail bar

WM Barker & Co. is certainly a spot one can see becoming packed with people through the week. Time spent sat at the bar is fun with the company of Craig and team, and more than enough space at a bar that is deceptively larger than it first seems. There is amazing talent behind the bar, and a more varied menu will really showcase their skill.

The only thing that makes this a difficult spot to grade for drinks is, though there is obvious thought going into the cocktails, they’re all on the sweet side, even the ones that lean away like the St. Pauls. Luckily, bartenders will make classics on request, but one feels it should be something that is addressed in the menu.

A fun night out, as long as you know what you are going for!

 

Drinks: ** (variety) – *** (quality)
Atmosphere: ****
Service: ****

 

W. M. Barker & Co.

Basement of Dirty Dicks,
202 Bishopsgate,
London, EC2M 4NR.

http://www.wmbarkerandco.uk/

The Cocktail Trading Company, Smithfield

Type of Bar: Tiny, Basement, Quirky
Damage: ££
Ideal for: Date, After Work

 

The boys from CTC, Soho have done it again!

The Cocktail Trading Company Development Bar & Table (can we just call it CTC? Cool, okay), now a bustling hotspot in the heart of Soho, has branched out into cocktail-starved Smithfield, under the popular Ask For Janice on Long Lane.

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The basement is tiny, if you’re lucky you might bag a couch (book in advance!) – and I recommend you find a good seat, because time can fly here! (Very) Dim-lit and cosy with a strongly Twin-Peaks-cabin-vibe, the playlist really makes the venue. Well, that and the incredible drinks and service provided by the Olly/Andy/Elliot trinity.

It’s probably worth mentioning that with 7 cocktail awards between them, it is difficult to go wrong with a good old classic here. About half the menu is classics, but the team will happily go off menu if you ask.

Cocktail Trading Company London Smithfield

The Brasso

The menu here will be the same as the CTC in Soho, so the Hoodooist decided to go for some uncharacteristically longer cocktails.

Beginning with the Brasso: Stoli Vodka, ginger and orange brew, lime juice and soda, is a light, bright, spicy long drink served with chocolate wafer and candied ginger. Perhaps spicy isn’t the right word, but spiced – the ginger doesn’t have a strong kick, but a fun pep in its step. Simplicity does well for this cocktail.

Cocktail Trading Company London Smithfield

The Daisy De Santiago

The Daisy De Santiago really exhibits the characteristics of Bacardi Heritage, with Lemon n Lime sherbet and Green Chartreuse. The tropical fruit and pepperiness cut through the cocktail quite easily, but immediately followed by a bombardment of citrus and the bitter herbal Green Chartreuse. It’s certainly a speciality cocktail with its intense sour and bitter flavours. Something very nostalgic here, something about 90s candy.

Cocktail Trading Company London Smithfield

The Sherry Cobbler

Twisting an old classic, the Sherry Cobbler adds spiced syrup to the mix of sherry/sugar/citrus, and garnishes with berries. The spiced syrup gives us warm winter spices, adding dimension to the otherwise primarily sweet and well-known classic. If you want to turn the sugariness up to 11, you can always go for the much more desserty Chocolate Flip #1, bringing together Bacardi 8 yr rum, cacao-infused Chartreuse, Tawny Port and pistachio ice cream. With a deeper, darker cacao flavour, this is an adult’s dessert cocktail, with the rum’s winter spice and lush mouthfeel, and the bitter hits of the Chartreuse over pistachio ice cream for that smoothness.

Cocktail Trading Company London Smithfield

The Chocolate Flip #1

With a very similar design, set up and cocktail list as it’s Soho sister, CTC Smithfield also keeps that distinctive attention to service that we loved about its predecessor. A welcome venue in the Smithfield area, and nice change from the after work boozers. I’d expect booking will be necessary.

 

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

 

The Cocktail Trading Company

Basement @ Ask for Janice, 50-52 Long Lane,
London, EC1A 9EJ.

http://www.thecocktailtradingco.co.uk/

 

 

Discount Suit Company, Aldgate

Type of Bar: Basement, Speakeasy, Tiny
Damage£
Ideal for: Small Groups, Party

 

The street’s covered with clothing stores, and a discount suit store is hardly unique in these parts – except for one: The Discount Suit Company, housed in an ex-suit store basement, houses some of the more imaginative cocktails in the are.

Run by the Umbrella Project (also responsible for the Sun Tavern, Bethnal Green – Review up Friday 17th July ’15!), the DSC is a very intimate basement space, candlelit – though surprisingly loud – so I’d recommend booking a table in advance if you’d rather have a conversation down at the couch.

Like both bars by the Umbrella Project, the DSC keeps a a beautiful bar-back and short cocktail menu (off menu classics can be prepared), and for the summer, expect light cocktails focusing on sweet and slightly spiced flavours. The Hoodooist is walked through the menu by the fantastic Connor behind the bar:

 

Discount Suit Company London cocktails Aldgate

Koffie?

Koffie? Wow, I’d love one of these every morning. Genever, Ristretto liqueur, Fernet Branca, cold brew coffee, orgeat, egg yolk. Surprisingly light (you’d expect something heavier with the yolk, but the creaminess is not as thick as you’d think). The bitter Fernet Branca is barely perceptible, just to help balance the sweetness of the ristretto liqueur and orgeat. The almond in the orgeat works well with the bright floral notes of the Genever. Very short, but a beautiful drink.

Discount Suit Company London cocktails Aldgate

Connor preparing the Pollo Loco

The bright green Pollo Loco is exactly what this summer asked for, Tequila Blanco, St. Germain, Absinthe, lemon, cucumber, honey water. Senses assaulted by waves of honey water and cucumber, the vegetal green of the cucumber tempered by the St. Germain – finally the tequila’s pepper and agave lingering underneath. All the while being a light summer cocktail.

Discount Suit Company London cocktails Aldgate

The Grapes and the Grain

The Grapes and the Grain: Gin, Pisco, Velvet Falernum, grape juice, lime, honey water. Tropical without being tropical, this cocktail has pronounced flavours of the ginger, cloves and sweetness in Velvet Falernum, with the sweet honey water and a fruitiness that can only be ascribed to the grape juice. From underneath these the Pisco emerges, a light singe and more fruit.

Another light summer drink, but lacks the same intensity of the Pollo Loco, and begins to lose character quickly – but a good way to end to a night of drinks with something cleansing and relaxed.

Discount Suit Company London cocktails Aldgate

The Dane-ted Love

Next up, Bartender Connor’s favourite, the Dane-ted Love. Now we’re back in business: Akvavit, Amaro Montenegro, lemon juice, lemongrass syrup. The otherwise powerful rose notes of the Amaro Montenegro are surprisingly calm in this cocktail – instead the spice and fruit notes of the Amaro are lengthened by the lemon juice and akvavit, and the citrus drink is sweetened lightly by the lemongrass.

On the topic of sweetness, The Royal Rhubarb goes all the way: Rhubarb vodka, cherry aperitif, vanilla syrup, rhubarb bitters, topped up with Prosecco. No surprise that it’s rhubarby – the cherry and the drier notes of the aperitif (gonna guess it’s Bold London Spirit?), its clove and cassia, and the dry Prosecco, help round out the flavour of the cocktail by adding a little bit of oomph.

Discount Suit Company London cocktails Aldgate

The Royal Rhubarb

The Captain Cobbler, really, is the one drink the Hoodooist wouldn’t order again – Dark rum, Amontillado sherry, kumquat, ginger and honey marmalade, pink grapefruit and IPA head. I’m sure there is an audience who’d enjoy this, but it came off as a confused, sweet muddle.

Discount Suit Company London cocktails Aldgate

The Captain Cobbler

The Discount Suit Co.’s cocktail game is strong, as usual – fantastic in fact, for a short menu – and recognise that simplicity is key. Of course, a short menu can be limiting, so whisky cocktails are gonna be classics ordered off menu – which shouldn’t be a problem with this fantastic team – fun, conversational, swift, gotta love the guys behind the bar.

Discount Suit Company London cocktails Aldgate

The House of Ban-Boo

The Discount Suit Co. is another testament to the Umbrella Project’s skill at good bar concepts: aiming for simplicity, while understanding the customers and serving up quality at fabulous wallet-preserving costs (particularly handy close to the university as it is). Love this joint.

 

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

 

Discount Suit Company

29A Wentworth Street,
London E1 7TB

http://www.discountsuitcompany.co.uk/