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!

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!

untitled

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.

14088608_10154504411234559_3111059130871368690_n

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/

Aqua Nueva & Spirit, Oxford Circus

Type of Bar: Bar/Restaurant, Spanish, Japanese
Damage££££
Ideal for: FoodDate, Small Groups, After Work

 

As crowded as Argyll Street is, it is easy to miss some of the signs around you – including the doorway that leads up to the 5th floor, where three of Aqua’s dining experiences are hidden away.

The opulently decorated Aqua series begins with the shimmering mirrored surfaces of the Aqua Spirit bar, before opening up to the Nueva restaurant, heralded by the charging Pamplona bull – an awful lot of spectacle, so the Hoodooist was curious to see if there was substance behind the glitz.

 

Aqua Kyoto Nueva London cocktails

The Smoke Over Spain

 

Once seated at our table, looking out the balcony to the Central London skyline, and over the bar of Nueva, we are served with the London Cocktail Week offering of the Smoke Over Spain.

I’m already sold with this. Tanqueray gin, orgeat, sherry, wild strawberry liqueur, fresh lemon juice and served with a paprika foam, a gorgeous balancing act of sweet without being sickly, citrus without being overpowering, and smoky for a burst of flavour. You begin with the smoky paprika foam that teases the tastebuds before a wash of fruit and nutty sweetness of the orgeat, giving way to the powerful strawberry flavour that dominates the drink, leading to a dry finish from the sherry.

This is a cocktail you will remember, even for the Hoodooist who notoriously avoids sweet or fruit dominated cocktails. I do wish this will find its way onto the cocktail menu year round, to firmly place Aqua on the map for cocktail ingenuity.

We enjoy snacks of Manzanilla olives, chickpea croquettes, and Iberian meats before being served padron peppers fried with olive oil and dusted with sea salt that the Hoodooist absolutely adores. The addition of sea salt does stand out from many servings of padron peppers, and the Hoodooist doubts he can have it any other way now! A pile of green pepper heads on his plate, we are served another cocktail.

 

 

Aqua Spirit Kyoto Nueva London cocktails

Salmon and avocado maki with salmon ‘pearls’

 

Aqua Spirit‘s offering of the Japanese Citrus initially does not go down well – until it dilutes. Then we find a wonderfully refreshing drink. The melting ice dilutes the pungency of the powerful yuzu sake, which is mixed with Ketel One vodka, fresh lemon juice, ginger syrup, Angostura bitters and topped with soda water. Once you’ve waited a few minutes, the yuzu citrus provides a wonderful backdrop for the ginger to sizzle.

This was paired with salmon and avocado maki, topped with salmon roe. Clearly freshly cut and succulent salmon made this sushi worth travelling for, exciting seasoned residents of Japan at our table. Soon, chicken wings stuffed with coriander and miso are served, as well as crisp prawn tempura with garlic chilli sauce.

 

14500501_10154628805344559_6371883763521570944_o

 

Finally, melt-in-your-mouth oxtail topped with avocado creme is paired with a glass of champagne, before the finale of a shot of Espresso Martini as a digestif to polish off a wonderful evening.

Staff at the Aqua Nueva & Spirit are faultless: polite, swift, and conversational. I do prize service above everything else at a bar, and the Aqua series certainly score here.

 

Overall, the glitz is not just for show. Cocktails are engineered to be paired with food, so do not attempt to be enormously complex or demanding – but when they do, we find stars like the Smoke Over Spain. The Japanese Citrus is also a great example at how cocktails meant to be paired can be enjoyable even on their own.The atmosphere is perfect for a celebratory dinner, after work drink on the balcony, and particularly for meetings. You can’t go wrong for why you’re here, really.

Sure, it’s a steep price, which is expected – but all things considered, the Aqua Nueva and Spirit are venues a visit to London should not do without.

 

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

 

Aqua Nueva & Spirit,

240 Regent St, Oxford Circus
London W1B 3BR

http://aquakyoto.co.uk/
http://aquanueva.co.uk/

Welcome the Night Tube!

So the Night Tube starts tonight!

You’re preparing your clubbing plans across London as the 24 hour Central and Victoria lines come to life tonight, how about some words on late night food and cocktail bars around the city to indulge in before drunkenly stumbling into Vauxhall at 3AM?

Untitled

 

City of London:

A short walk from Chancery Lane station, it’s the last week to enjoy the successful Game of Thrones menu for the fans here at Bird of Smithfield, so enjoy some seasonal British fare and five floors of dining and boozing till midnight tonight before just crossing the street to Oriole. The critically acclaimed bar, open till 2AM, boasts a massive collection of sophisticated and unique cocktails with a tropical jungle theme. A relaxed venue, studded with international treasures comes to life with a live band and a Saligo Bay (Bruichladdich, baked oat syrup, peated barley, green walnut liqueur, peat dust) in hand.

Bird of Smithfield Game of Thrones

Bird of Smithfield’s Dragon Egg Salad

Or, hop further East at Liverpool Street to pop into the 24 hour Duck and Waffle before a short jaunt to Black Rock Whisky Bar across from sister cocktail bar, the Worship Street Whistling Shop for 2AM tipples.

The Nutella Negroni

Duck and Waffle’s Nutella Negroni

Central London

There is no shortage of late night venues in London’s never-sleeping beating heart.

Meaty late night bar snacks and sensational cocktails to be found in the red arena of MASH Steak (or both, in the Mexican Smuggler cocktail)

MASH Soho London Cocktail Bar

MASH’s Mexican Smuggler

Not far, there is the enormous subterranean Brasserie Zedel, which will be serving French fare till midnight, whose Bar Americain will be open till 1AM for cocktails in a snug Art Deco setting.

Soho is still up late, with celebrated cocktail bars like the spectacular El Camion dishing out the tequila till 3AM, and Balans still going strong at 6AM. A midnight meal of Korexican can be had at Bo Drake, before a little bit of everything and a dance at 100 Wardour St till 2AM!

Bo Drake's Bo Ssam and Brisket Bao

Bo Drake’s Bo Ssam and Brisket Bao

After some late night Chinese, there is always Opium Chinatown serving up dim sum and cocktail till 3AM. And something closer to the theme, Cahoots cocktail bar will be shelling (sorry) out the cocktails in a 1940s style tube carriage of a bar!

Opium's 'Born on the Baijiu'

Opium’s ‘Born on the Baijiu’

East London

If you’re willing to walk a little further to Shoreditch, the amazing NOLA is open late till 3AM for one of their award-winning Sazeracs.

Nola2

If not, hop on the Central for a 4 course midnight dinner at Sager+Wilde Paradise Row, before hopping over to Peg+Patriot for some seriously experimental cocktails.

The excellent Sun Tavern – tonight open till 2AM! Serving free oysters and 5 pound Poitin Boilermakers, you can’t miss this. And PS: keep the receipt and hop on the Central to Liverpool St after. Until 2AM, Discount Suit Co. will be giving 50% off your tab if you are carrying your receipt from the Sun Tavern!

Discount Suit Company London cocktails Aldgate

DSC’s Royal Rhubarb

West London

Notting Hill is the place to be for Central line late – pop by the legendary Trailer Happiness for 1AM shenanigans fueled by copious amounts of rum, or at the Little Yellow Door, serving up American fare till 1!

gall1

Trailer Happiness

North London

Highbury and Islington‘s got some late night fun – the recently opened Little Bat Bar – sister to the famed Callooh Callay, will be serving up dinner and drinks till 1AM tonight, and after pop down to The Doll’s House for late night live music and carousing till 4AM!

Dolls House Islington Negroni

The Doll’s House Negroni

Or, grab a late night biryani at the King’s Cross St. Pancras Dishoom before 1AM cocktails at the Pancras Hotel, or Shaker & Co. at Euston/WarrenSt!

dish-neg-sour

Sonia’s Negroni at Dishoom

South London

Brixton has exploded in popularity, and isn’t lacking in late night venues from late nights. Three Eight Four, who serve up a mean Brooklyn and Smoked Manhattan go on past midnight, or run under the arches to cocktails at Ekcovision till 4AM!

If you’re looking for a quieter night out, find yourself sampling unique and experimental cocktails over dinner at the hidden away  Shrub and Shutter till 3AM!

384-1.jpg

Three Eight Four Brixton

 

 

And that’s just the Central and Victoria lines! Travel safe, and for god’s sake don’t lose your Oyster card.

All info on the Night Tube can be found at the TFL website.

Game of Thrones Menu at @Bird Of Smithfield, Clerkenwell

Type of Bar: Bar/Restaurant, Also optional Basement, Rooftop
The Iron Price: Three courses £30
Ideal for: FoodDate, Small Groups, Large GroupsAfter Work

 

Game of Thrones Menu available 15th – 26th August 2016

Okay, you know we love Bird of Smithfield – we’ve covered their drinks and a solid 4/5 was in order. Simple, elegant, get the job done.

And for this week only, the restaurant unveils a dedicated set menu (horse hearts and incest not included) celebrating the Game of Thrones fandom – or at least staving off GoT deprivation during the hiatus!

The menu appeals to the theme of the series while maintaining the approachable simplicity of British fare – and in BoS tradition, managing to amp up the everyday to a meal worth travelling for.

Bird of Smithfield Game of Thrones

Okay. This is gorgeous.

The Dracarys Salad felt like bit of a crime to eat, really.

Marbled quail eggs nested on salad with bacon lardons presented beautifully on a noodle nest. The eggs just perfectly runny and shimmering in the streaming light, and crisp of bacon for that little Dothraki touch.

14063903_10154476594594559_6409129490331839702_n

Then, what is a party in Westeros without a pie (and several casualties)?

Joffrey’s Wedding Pie is suitably hearty and incredibly filling: Chicken , quail and leeks spill from the pie, sizzling. Once the quail stabbing through the pie is dealt with, the perfectly crisp and flaky pastry is broken through to the chicken underneath.

Bird of Smithfield Game of Thrones

Finally, the meal ends with the Ice and Fire, a vanilla Baked Alaska comes with Wildfire!

Green Chartreuse is spilled around the dessert to be set alight – keep your vial of Wildfire to drink as a digestif after.

The vanilla gelato encased the the cake might be slightly firmer than we’d like, but the browned meringue is just right, and spiced up with the Chartreuse for just a little bit of kick for a twist.

Bird of Smithfield Game of Thrones

 

Bird of Smithfield manages to chic up most Game of Thrones/ASoIaF themed meals and keeping the simplicity of British fare – and all for a modest price. Highly recommended for the GoT fan – and certainly on Friday night to welcome the Night Tube as you saunter away from your Westerosi dining at midnight.

(Look out for our Night Tube launch party recommendations tomorrow!)

Game of Thrones menu only till Friday 26th August 2016! To book, call 0207 559 5100

 

Bird of Smithfield

26 Smithfield St, Clerkenwell
London EC1A 9LB

http://birdofsmithfield.com/

Yelp London’s Slides and Scoops Ice Cream Festival!

Chill out, London.

This city is stressful, even in the heart of summer, but we’re here to help. Yelp London is running the city’s only ICE CREAM FESTIVAL! Yes, returning for it’s second year, Slides and Scoops is back to delight and make your life a little more sweet.

It all happens 16 July from 1 to 6pm at the Lumpy Hill Adventure Playground. Entrance is a free check-in on Yelp or £10 to our charity of choice: Islington Play. RSVP now, you’re not going to want to miss this little treat.

o

IN SHORT…

Here’s all you need to know about the event:

DATE: Saturday, July 16th
12pm: Yelp Elites (yelp.co.uk/elite)
1 to 6pm: Event Doors Open!

FOOD AND DRINKS: Ice Cream! (Plus, some hot foods and drinks!)
ATMOSPHERE: Casual
SIZE OF THE EVENT: BIG!

SPOTS GIVEN OUT ON: Right up until the day of the event!
COST – Free
OPEN TO – Adults only (sorry kiddies) who RSVPs, but…*

*PLEASE NOTE: Event places will first be given to those who know London, have an opinion about it and are happy to share it!  So, to get a place, you will need to have recent photos, reviews or tips on your Yelp page to prove it!

o (2)

ICE CREAM TO MAKE YOU SCREAM, INCLUDING:

Alcoholic Ice Cream from:
* Boozy Udders (boozyudders.co.uk)
* Drunken Dairy (drunkendairy.co.uk)
* Lic (havealic.com)
* Wavey Ice (waveyice.co.uk)

Cornish Ice Cream from:
* Callestick Farm (callestickfarm.co.uk)

Gelato from:
* Oddono’s (yelp.co.uk/biz/oddonos-l…)
* Scoop (yelp.co.uk/biz/scoop-lon…)

Ice Cream Sandwiches from:
* Blu Top Ice Cream (blutopicecream.com)
* Milo & Hector’s (miloandhectors.com)

Liquid Nitrogen Ice Cream from:
* Whipsmiths (whipsmiths.com)

London’s First Vegan FREAKSHAKES from:
* The Canvas Cafe (yelp.co.uk/biz/the-canva…)

Rum Ice Cream from:
* RUMblin’ and Galindo’s (rumblin.co)

Sorbet from:
* Sorbitium Ices (sorbitiumices.com)

Thai Rolled Ice Cream from:
* Frew & Co (frewandco.com)
* T.R.I.P. London (triplondoncity.com)

OTHER TREATS INCLUDING:

Ice Cream Topping made of crickets from:
Chipper (twitter.com/@wearechipper)

Magical Chocolate Fruit from:
Choco fruit (chocofruit.co.uk)

The Ice Cream Waiter Drone from:
SkyEdge360 (skyedge.co.uk)

AND ENTERTAINMENT FROM…
The Gaming Party Bus (gamingpartybus.co.uk/?ut…)
Josh The Magician (joshthemagician.com)
Rabble (joinrabble.com)
Vodkaluge (vodkaluge.co.uk)
Malmaison London (malmaison.com/locations/…)

o (1)

RSVP now and we’ll see you there!

https://www.yelp.co.uk/events/london-yelp-londons-slides-and-scoops-ice-cream-festival

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.

13507099_10154332799844559_8491667648693764945_n

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/