Apples & Pears, Whitechapel

Type of Bar: Live Music, Local
Damage££
Ideal for: DateSmall Groups, CARTOONS

Okay, Apples and Pears wins point for atmosphere: after admiring the artwork, the Hoodooist and co just became drunkenly absorbed into the classic Tom & Jerry and Merrie Melodies cartoons on the big screen. Because why the hell not.

And if that brilliant perk didn’t win you over, this dim lit local’s vibe is powered by its wide range of beats and live acoustic sessions through the week.

And as Rory serenaded us, we decided to tackle some of the newest menu!

 

apples and pears london bar shoreditch cocktails

The Buttered Pop-Fashioned

The Buttered Pop-Fashioned finds Buttered Popcorn Infused Knob Creek mixed in with maple syrup, sea salt, and Amargo Chuncho bitters for a sweet twist on the classic.

This was….curious. Served with a side of popcorn, which I hoped would balance the flavours a bit, we found that the wonderful array of flavours were drowned out by the screaming maple syrup.

Only in the distance could a vague flavour of sea salt or the warm spices of Amargo Chuncho be heard. After a third of the glass, the drink was entirely too sweet and syrupy to finish. A nice kick from the whiskey was one perk.

 

apples and pears london bar shoreditch cocktails

The Tincup Rocky

Using the perfect-for-a-Pickleback Tincup whiskey, the Tincup Rocky mixes in fig liqueur, lemon and black pepper sherbet, cloudy lemonade, and bitters.

An interesting combo of flavours that all have a part to play, but one disappointment here: If you didn’t tell me what spirit was in here – I’d never know. I always imagine cocktails to ride on the flavour of the spirit, for the alcohol to do the heavy lifting. But here, it’s spicy lemonade with what could be anything, vodka, light rum, who knows.

Personally, with the enthusiasm Apples and Pears has for Boilermakers, I’d like to see a unique whiskey like Tincup used for something like a Pickleback or other American style whiskey classics.

But don’t worry, it gets better here on out!

apples and pears london bar shoreditch cocktails

L-R: The New Spanish Sour, and the Cool Kyuriosity

Now we’re cooking with gas!

The New Spanish Sour and Cool Kyuriosity highlight the potential of Apples and Pears, and hopefully signals the line the bar’s cocktail style will follow in future.

The Cool Kyuriosity is something the Hoodooist wouldn’t have tried if a friend hadn’t ordered it – yes, there is hope for Midori yet.

Square One Cucumber vodka, Midori, cucumber, wasabi syrup, lime, and celery bitters – garnished with honeydew melon drizzled with sesame, creates a smooth, cool cocktail perfect for summer.

After a hit of the Midori, the cucumber sashays in, ending with citrus and a delicate, effervescent burn to the throat with the wasabi. A real step up from the last two cocktails.

 

The New Spanish Sour is modern, sexy, and puts a real fire in the belly. It’s Bizet in a glass. Bruxo No.1 Mezcal simmers with Ancho Reyes liqueur, Rubis Chocolate red wine, lime, and chilli bitters.

The cocoa port settles to the bottom of the glass, to be stirred up with your provided chilli, if you so wish. The powerfully smoky Bruxo No.1 with its pepper and cinnamon finish dominate the drink, anchored by the sweet port, and the Ancho Reyes with its tamarind and dark fruit flavours that provide such depth.

Here, we have a winner.


This laid back bar is confident, and has shown real promise for a developing cocktail list – if it is willing to itself have more confidence in the spirits used, and less on miscellany. A fun atmosphere, beautiful music, a unique style, and the wonderful Kim and bartenders running the show means this is a fab spot for a one-on-one with some live tunes.

Pick your drinks with your gut, keep an eye out to make sure the ingredients don’t swing too far from the spirit base, so you know you’ve got yourself a cocky cocktail – one that this spirited little venue deserves.

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

Apples and Pears

26 Osborn St, Whitechapel
London E1 6TD

http://www.applesandpearsbar.com/

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Our Black Heart, Camden Town

Type of Bar: Live Music, Alternative
Damage: ££
Ideal for: Party, Live Music, Small Groups, Large Groups, Food

 

Time for something a little different.

With The Queer Alternative LGBTQ charity organisation hosting a gig featuring ace cock-rock-parody cover band The Dykeness in the venue upstairs, The Hoodooist thought it was time to return to his alternative teen years in Camden Town after a long while.

Really – the issue is more he can’t find a place to listen to Judas Priest with a decent Old Fashioned but THINGS ARE DIFFERENT AT THE BLACK HEART.

Our Black Heart Camden Town The Dykeness Cocktails

Because they’re awesome.

For all intents and purposes, Our Black Heart is a classic metal bar: nestled in a back alley, black walls, grime, neon signs over a pool table – but some core differences do stand out: for one, a larger selection of spirits than at most alt bars you’d imagine (QuiQuiRiQui mezcal, Glenrothes to Auchentoshan, Opihr and the Botanist gins), second, a short menu of classic cocktails and a pretty decent kitchen in the back to keep the booths and tables fed and watered.

In other words: The grown-up metal bar.

I will have to inform you though, there is a cocktail menu, but if you want something off-menu, do specify the drink and base spirit. An Old Fashioned will get you and Old Fashioned with house whiskey, or you can be charged one more pound to use a whiskey you know you enjoy.
Similarly, if you’re gonna ask for a drink that includes support-spirits like Campari, Aperol or vermouths – you want to make sure they’re in stock. The Black Heart does not tout itself as a cocktail bar after all.

Our Black Heart Camden Town Cocktails

Nikka From The Barrel Old Fashioned

Most of the cocktails today are off-menu, I should mention – except for one the Hoodooist once ordered an age ago that now made it to the menu, which is highly recommended: the Aztec Old Fashioned. Traditional sugar and bitters mixed in with QuiQuiRiQui Matatlan mezcal. Made the good old fashioned way with crushing sugar that takes longer, but ultimately more rewarding than using sugar syrup – you want to find bartender Nancy who is a total wiz and making these spectacular cocktails. Smoky, peppery – initially earthy to sugary with a long smoked agave finish.

Similarly, the Nikka From the Barrel Old Fashioned uses the Nikka From the Barrel cask strength Japanese whisky. A spicy and fruity nose opens to a palate that is powerful, warm and full bodied – laden with spices, fruits and oaky or toffee in the finish. The Auchentoshan Old Fashioned finds a much sweeter drink, with the sweet barley and vanilla really powering the cocktail.

Our Black Heart Camden Town Cocktails

After a quick bite of vegan buffalo wings (yes) and a dance in the gig space upstairs, it’s back to the bar for a Tequila Sour. While sipping on a neat Tequila Chamucos Anejo –  enjoying the smooth almond and cocoa flavours, the Chamucos Reposado Tequila Sour is served. One critique would be to tone down the citrus just a bit to let the chamomile and fruitier flavours of the tequila through. There was enough lemon to take away from the Chamucos’ more pungent flavours that would have beautifully balanced out the cocktail.

An Opihr Gimlet was an unwise choice on the Hoodooist’s part, it’s cardamom being overpowering. However the Auchentoshan Sour‘s vanilla was a sweet end to the evening before departing after the finale cover of ‘All I Want For Christmas‘ by The Dykeness and the Hoodooist made it back to the bar.

Our Black Heart Camden Town Cocktails

Service is swift and only at bar, and as I said, though there is a short cocktail menu, Our Black Heart does not tout itself as a ‘cocktail bar’, so you might have to explain the ingredients of a cocktail, though there is no shame in that. If, however, your goal is to drink an amazing Old Fashioned with Glenn Danzig in the background under the neon gaze of the Virgin Mary – you’ve found your spot in one of the last vestiges of Camden’s heyday.

 

Drinks: ** (For absence of support-spirits) – *** 
Atmosphere: **** (if a metal bar is what you’re looking for)
Service: ****

 

Our Black Heart

2-3 Greenland Pl, Camden Town
London NW1 0AP

http://www.ourblackheart.com/

The Bayou Banquet @ The Vaults, Waterloo

Type of Bar: Bar/Restaurant, American, Pop Up
Damage: £
Ideal for: Food, Brunch, Live Music, Hangover, Small Groups

Purveyors of all things Louisiana – from soul food to jumpin’ live music – Slap Ya Papa! (‘because he never cooked you food so good!’) is bringing their red-lit New Orleans inspired world to the Victorian railway arches at The Vaults this September with a two week festival of events to launch The Vaults Kitchen, a brand new restaurant space at London Waterloo’s subterranean hub of arts and culture.

IMG_5637

With the Mississippi melting pot as its muse, The Bayou Banquet will give guests a taste of the heady, vibrant and culturally unique world of New Orleans. Featuring a spectrum of experiences, from immersive supper clubs, live music and Crescent City cocktail fuelled parties, to interactive art exhibitions and auctions, all-day Sunday brunches and even a hint of celebrity, with a run of cabaret audiences with Nola native and Mad Men star Bryan Batt.

Throughout the residency, the first in a rolling series of pop-up restaurant concepts at The Vaults Kitchen, Slap Ya Papa will team up with kindred culture collectives artists Marbles and Ware, and live bands Riot Jazz and Kansas Smitty to offer a programme of festivities to run throughout the day and late into the night, showcasing the best of a bubbling new wave of the most soulful Deep South food, art and live blues, jazz, funk and soul music in London.

Bayou Banquet London Waterloo Brunch

The Hoodooist’s experience at the Egg, Bacon, Grits…SAUSAGE Brunch served up aforementioned dish with a wonderful smattering of green onions and spices with cornbread and sweet potato muffins with the most wonderful honey butter.

Better than that, though, was the magic Laura was concocting behind the bar – as blues played in the painting-adorned hall with its communal dining tables. After the first sitting, diners are led to the bar area to take on the rest of the cocktail menu.

Bayou Banquet Vaults Cocktails

L-R: The Deepsouth Widemouth, & the Bloody Derby

The Bloody Derby brings Four Roses Bourbon with “a secret mix” blending Tabasco sauce, cayenne pepper, Amontillado sherry, Picklehouse pickle juice and tomato juice. The Amontillado is what makes this for that bite of dryness that goes so well with the the Picklehouse and cayenne. A fantastic Bloody Mary twist.

The Deepsouth Widemouth has vanilla-infused Four Roses Bourbon, fresh chilli, ginger shrub, Amaro and Campari reduction for a smooth aperitif. It’s got a real kick, this one, long, dry, with a hint of sweetness from the vanilla and ginger shrub. If you’re afraid of Campari, don’t be, the reduction grants it only a hint of the flavour. Enjoyed this drink, though takes a while with its strength and dryness.

Finally, the Missy Sippy: Vodka, Kamm & Sons, lemon, mint, and sweet potato syrup. Now here’s one for the sweet tooth – the ginseng of Kamm & Sons lends to a musky sweetness, as does the syrup, luckily the lemon lifts the drink up a bit (considering its thickness). Personally, it does well as a liquid dessert.
Service is swift, and the smaller space makes it easier to grab attention of the staff – at the bar, expect conversation and quick service from Laura dishing out those Bloody Derbys!

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

Event info and ticket link below!

Bayou Banquet London Waterloo Brunch

Events at The Bayou Banquet to look forward to:

Wednesday 16th, Thursday 17th & Thursday 24th September – Slap Ya Papa Supper Clubs (£30)

Friday 18th September – Slap Ya Papa X Riot Jazz (£35)

Saturday 19th September & Saturday 26th September – Marbles & Ware Bizarre Bazaar (free entry)

Saturday 19th September & Saturday 26th September – Marbles & Ware Bidders’ 5 course Banquet (£40)

Sunday 20th September & Sunday 27th September – Slap Ya Papa presents: Egg, Bacon, Grits…SAUSAGE Brunch (£20)

Monday 21st – Wed 23rd September – The Bryan Batt Cabaret presents Tales from New Orleans (Mon/Tues – £25 [non-dining], Wed – £40 [includes four course dinner])

Friday 25th September – Slap Ya Papa X Kansas Smitty (£35)

Bayou Banquet London Waterloo Brunch

As they say in Nola – Laissez Les Bons Temps Rouler!

Tickets can be bought at: http://www.the-vaults.org/#!slap-ya-papa/cfpu

Bussey Rooftop Bar, Peckham Rye

Type of Bar: Rooftop
Damage£ – ££
Ideal for: Date, Small Groups, Large Groups, View, Live Music

Finally, a good summer rooftop bar.

There have been quite a few summer bars around this June, but so far, the Bussey Rooftop Bar is rocketing to the Hoodooist’s top.

Bussey Rooftop Bar Cocktails Summer

Built to chill with live music, only 6 floors up, but with stunning views of the hills to the South and of the City to the North. Serving up film-themed drinks with Pizza Pilgrims baking up a storm, chilled out covers of Eurythmics sail through the air as the similarly relaxed cocktail list helps you relax far, far away from the noise of the city. And quality drinks for 7 quid? Winning.

Walking up 6 flights of stairs is rather worth it.

However, I’d add some, or at least store away emergency, umbrellas/shades somewhere. The British summer can be deceptive, and the last thing you need is a sudden shower while sipping on your Jerk Daiquiri (although, would be hilarious to watch the rooftop-yoga group next door get soaked).

Bussey Rooftop Bar Cocktails Summer

The Jerk Daiquiri

Speaking of the Jerk Daiquiri: Appleton V/X rum, Jerk Syrup, lime juice – simple, elegant, does the job. Appleton V/X is a much lighter rum than its popular Estate 12yr brother, and is a good choice for the cocktail. You’re first hit with the jerk syrup – the allspice, and bite of the Scotch Bonnet, the myriad of warm spices – followed by the fruit entry of the rum. Orange followed by the pepper, finally resting on the lime juice. Relaxed, summery, beachy. Simplicity works.

Bussey Rooftop Bar Cocktails Summer

The Negrita

The Negrita is an attempt at mixing some of the Hoodooist’s favourite cocktails: San Cosme Mezcal, Campari, Cocchi Torino (here substituted with Martini Rosso and extra orange). The substitution of Martini Rosso and orange works well, regardless. The most powerful flavour coming from the Campari, but once that fades, from the Campari and vermouth haze the mezcal emerges. Complex and smokey, with a caramelly finish. A great twist on a classic.

Bussey Rooftop Bar Cocktails Summer

The Thai Punch

Being summer, the Hoodooist decided to go with a long drink. Well, not really. He just read the word ‘chilli’ and was sold. The Thai Punch takes the coconut rum Koko Kanu and infuses it with kaffir lime leaf, chilli, ginger, and lemongrass tail – finally adding pineapple, lime and palm sugar to top off the drink. Cold and spicy, the Thai Punch leaves palate dancing between the spices, most notably the lemongrass tail and ginger, lengthened by the pineapple, ending with the sweetness of the coconut and a chilli strike at the back of the throat. Long it might be, but this drink takes a while to finish.

Bussey Rooftop Bar Cocktails Summer

Memento of a great bar team

Finally, the Memento is…. Anything you’d want it to be. Anything using 50 Pounds Gin, that is. Called Memento since the drink comes with a Polaroid snapshot of the night. In this case, a Polaroid of our fabulous bartenders and a Martinez. So the usual gin, sweet vermouth, maraschino and bitters, a good ole classic.

The team, run by the wonderful Joe of El Nivel (Click HERE for Review!) fame, are incredibly talented, bringing their skills from around the world, and a barrel of laughs. Smooth and swift cocktail preparation.

And don’t forget the food! Enjoy the setting sun with Pizza Pilgrims cooking up personal Margherita, Nduja, or Portobello mushroom pizzas – or roll it up into a calzone. It’s a personal pizza, you can do it, we believe in you.

Bussey Rooftop Bar Cocktails Summer Pizza Pilgrims

The pretention that tends to fester around rooftop bars (or the clientele they attract) is absent at the Bussey Rooftop, instead presenting us with a spacious, chilled out venue to lie back and relax in, with a Negrita in hand to enjoy what the much ignored side of South East London has to offer.

Drinks: ****
Atmosphere: *** – **** (you really, really don’t want it to rain here)
Service: *****

Bussey Rooftop Bar

133 Rye Lane, Peckham Rye,
London SE15 4ST

http://www.busseyrooftopbar.com/

Kansas Smitty’s, Broadway Market

Type of Bar: Speakeasy, Basement, Tiny, Jazz
Damage: ££
Ideal for: Live Music, Small Groups, Juleps

 

Kansas Smitty’s ‘puts the danger back in jazz’ with their new Jazz n Julep bar at Broadway Market!

Taking the place of PortSide Parlour’s first residence (Click HERE for Review!), Kansas Smitty’s takes a minimalist and powder blue revamp to the basement of Off Broadway. Much space saved for standing guests, banquettes line the walls for table seats that sit about 4 persons, a dark, intimate, candle-lit venue that suits the music fantastically. Namesake of the eight-piece resident house band for whom the clubhouse is both a performance and rehearsal spot.

Throughout the week, the venue will be used by the house band and guest musicians to rehearse, perform and create music, a unique setting for live jazz in London. On Wednesdays the bar will host the ‘Basement Tapes’, a weekly concert featuring new projects, guest performers, secret shows and new pieces written and rehearsed that week in the bar. With limited space and high calibre performances these will be hot tickets to get hold of. At other times, band members will play their favourite records for guests, providing a soundtrack of quality music.

Kansas Smittys cocktail Juleps

I was curious to see how KS was about to pull off the all-Julep menu, and boy, did they – a massive collection of spices and botanicals changes the Julep game entirely. Everything from Cassia to Chamomile, these juleps are doing their best to stand out from the crowd and change the way you see the cocktail entirely. Four of the 8 Juleps use sweeter Four Roses Bourbon, and the mint is used just right, and not abused the way it is in many bars.

The bar signature, the Smitty’s Julep, is probably the best to start with, and the most balanced and layered of the menu. Bourbon, Amaro bitters, raisin, peach, cassia bar and mint. Beginning with the honeyed winter spice bite of the Four Roses, the raisins make a short entrance, followed by a powerful punch of cassia bark, finally ending on notes of the Amaro’s bitter orange and mint haze. Light, refreshing, and deserving of the title of the bar’s signature Julep.

 

Kansas Smittys cocktailJuleps

The signature Smitty’s Julep

The next three Juleps could really be called ‘specialty’ cocktails, that focus on a specific flavour and jump in headlong:

The Allotment Julep takes a twist with gin! Nettle, elderflower, carrot, coriander seed, apple, pear and mint seem like an enormous combination, but the result is a wonderfully light, breezy concoction. Predominantly fruity with the apple and pear, the occasional carrot kick, the fruitiness is broken by the coriander seed and nettle. A great light twist with the heavier drinks on the menu.

One such heavy drink being the Jesuit’s Bark – Mt. Gay rum, clove, pimento, lime, grapefruit peel, quinine cordial and mint. Wow. Packing a serious punch, you want to dedicate a good half hour to this drink. The rum and clove don’t mess around, and you get whacked round the face with it – so make sure you enjoy these flavours (luckily, the Hoodooist does). A slight lightening of flavours by the grapefruit peel and mint to the end, with a longer quinine finish, with lingering spice and smokiness of the Mt. Gay.

Another one of these ‘flavour specialty’ Juleps is the Scarborough: Bourbon, parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme, toasted almond, salted heather honey and mint. It’s a bit difficult to tell each of the ingredients apart in this one, but you get a good idea with the green herbiness of it, the parsley is notable, as you’d imagine. The toasted almond lingers in the background as the salted heather honey actually is rather powerful, and necessary to balance the green.

Kansas Smittys cocktail Juleps

Then, two themed Juleps: the Morning Joe-lep and the Sleepytime.

The Morning Joe-lep goes for bourbon, coffee bean, stem ginger, cardamom, cocoa nibs and bitter orange marmalade. I had my heart set on this one, but a lot of powerful flavours come at you at once, and it all feels a bit muddled and confused.

The Sleepytime, though, gets more points. Scotch whisky, chamomile, pink peppercorn, raspberry, lemon peel and mint – you the first slightly sweet, but still smoky bite of scotch, immediately moving on to the raspberry and lemon, finally ending on a smooth length of chamomile. All served with a delicate ice-crater filled with raspberries. Best in terms of presentation, and of the sweeter drinks on the menu, the most balanced.

 

The one cocktail that wasn’t received well at the table would’ve been the Ous Est Le Menthe. Cognac, sherry, tonka bean, cascara, star anise, walnut and nutmeg. The cognac, sherry and walnut stand out prominently, but the drink overall, comes off a bit sticky and sickly, and sadly wasn’t finished.

Not that this should end on a bad note, with the otherwise excellent drinks available on the menu.

Kansas Smittys cocktail Juleps

Drinks are to be ordered at the bar, and there will be queues, and massive respect to the bartenders juggling as many drinks as they did! Major props. So there might be bit of a wait for the drinks, but it is totally understandable in the space constraint and number of orders. Excellent work and service on part of the ‘tenders.

 

Summary? London was long due a bar like Kansas Smitty’s – revolutionising Juleps with a deft hand, and masterfully thought out recipes, bringing back a more relaxed atmosphere to cocktail bars, and finding that great mid-space between gig-venue and cocktails. Definitely worth a visit.

 

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

 

Kansas Smitty’s
Underneath ‘Off Broadway’

63 Broadway Market,
London E8 4PH.

http://www.kansassmittys.com/

Quaglino’s, Mayfair

Type of Bar: Bar/Restaurant
Damage££-£££
Ideal for: Food, Live Music, Date, Small Groups, Large Groups

A 3.5million pound face-lift later, Quaglino’s has reinvented itself into the enormous, Fashion Week meets fin de siècle-stage and live music venue it is today.

Compared to the airy, minimalist, marble and mirror affair it was before, the updated Quaglino’s has developed a rather cabaret style vibe with heavy drapes and dark walls – though it could be bit more cosy now, I’d want a table hushed away, since it does risk being slightly on the ‘oppressive side of plush’, if I communicate that idea correctly.

Nonetheless, the bar upstairs is a vantage point over the main arena of the venue, and one way of avoiding the hustle and bustle downstairs. A dimly lit space, where your best bet is sitting up at the bar, where service from the team, Milos and Davide, is en pointe. Conversational, effervescent, and always up to help.

 

Quaglino's London Cocktails rum

Featuring the Diplomatico Rum range

This day, Ambassador of Diplomatico Rum, Jon Lister, introduces three specials (at 7.50 each) added to Quaglino’s already lengthy cocktail menu – all using the rum range from Diplomatico, exhibiting their versatility.

Quaglino's London Cocktails rum

The Final Word

Beginning with a twist on a classic, the Final Word demonstrates that rums can indeed make excellent aperitifs – by substituting rum for gin in a ‘Last Word’. Diplomatico blanco, Green Chartreuse, St. Germain Elderflower and fresh citrus – is almost deceptively similar to a Last Word (going to show you how reliant on Chartreuse the cocktail actually is!). The rum, however, softens and sweetens the edges slightly, making it a fantastic introduction to those afraid of the sour and dry edges of many gin based aperitifs.

The Final Word still keeps a bit of an edge with the peppery notes of the blanco, but its softer vanilla and sugar round out the cocktail for the drinker less accustomed to Last Words.

 

Quaglino's London Cocktails rum

The Swanky Panky

The Swanky Panky twists the classic Hanky Panky to rum as well. If Swanky Panky sounds oddly familiar, though – you’ve probably been watching too much of Bob’s Burgers.

Swanky Panky Cocktail

“You ever hear of a cocktail called the Swanky Panky? It’s made with two parts vermouth-“
“Teddy, Teddy, Teddy. Get me out of here.”

And it is indeed made with vermouth – Diplomatico Reserva, Cocchi Vermouth di Torino, and Fernet Branca. Whereas the Reserva makes an initial sugary appearance, it’s immediately subjugated by the Cocchi – orange peel and menthol suddenly dominate the cocktail, followed by the herbal and bitter flavours of gentian and quinine from the Fernet. This cocktail is nothing like what the Hoodooist expected it to be initially (smoother mouthfeel, slightly sweeter, less herbal), and instead takes a much sharper, minty flavour.

 

Quaglino's London Cocktails rum

The Diplomatico Old Fashioned

Now this one is a bit more complex, a fantastic digestif, and the ‘hug goodbye’ of cocktails – the Diplomatico Old Fashioned gives us Diplomatico Reserva Exclusiva (both natural and infused with ground coffee), sweet sherry (Pedro Ximinez, if I’m correct), and Mozart chocolate bitters.

One could easily replace dessert with this drink. Though sweet (very sweet), not sickly or overbearingly so. Though Mozart has a tendency to be rather pungent, it collaborates well in this drink, helping balance out the sweetness of the sherry and the Exclusiva, as does the bitterness of the Arabica.

The vanilla, figs, and various mince-pie-esque notes of the rum are still very much present – really, this drink is dessert in a glass, covering all bases of the course, coffee and little glass of sherry.

Wonderful, though its powerful flavours means it did take the Hoodooist a good half hour to take this one down.

Quaglino's London Mayfair Cocktails

The regular cocktail menu at Quaglino’s is fairly long, and runs at about 12.50 GBP per drink – themed by the era of the cocktail’s release.

The Fresh As a Daisy tastes exactly how you’d expect it to – Hendrick’s gin. Muddled cucumber, elderflower liqueur and apple juice – long, refreshing, simple, classic.

The RAF got bit of an update here, Botanist gin, Maraschino liqueur, lemon juice, egg white and violette liqueur – personally couldn’t stomach it, simultaneously too sour and too sweet, bit overwhelming. I suppose if you like your drinks very, very sweet, this is it.

Quaglino's London Cocktails gin

The RAF

However, winner of the evening was easily the Fisherman – competitor in this year’s World Class Diageo cocktail competition. Talisker 10yr whisky, sage infused Cocchi Americano, a splash of Pedro Ximinez and bitters. Brilliant – absolutely wonderfully constructed. The nose is heavily leaning on the Talisker, smoky and thick, with an island beach salty touch. The drink keeps the Talisker’s intense spicy peat, with a long malty finish – smoothed out by the Cocchi Americano and its accompanying bitter quinine kick, all balanced out wonderfully with that touch of sherry for a sweeter overlay toward the end of the sip that coats the tongue.

 

Quaglino's London Cocktails whisky

The Fisherman

I suppose what you must keep in mind is that the cocktails on offer at Quaglino’s are massively varied (though they lean towards the sweet and many Sours), and with the wonderful service, will be willing to knock up any classics you need. Thinking of returning for a live band and another Fisherman!

 

Drinks: ***-****
Atmosphere: ***-****
Service: *****
Quaglino’s

16 Bury Street, Mayfair
London SW1Y 6AJ

http://www.quaglinos-restaurant.co.uk/

Bermondsey Arts Club, Bermondsey

Type of Bar: Tiny, Basement, Speakeasy
Damage££
Ideal for: Date, Small Groups, Live Music

Now this is interesting.

The Bermondsey Arts Club has kept itself to itself since they opened about half a year ago. They’ve also developed a loyal following, especially from the area, looking for a cocktail bar closer to home (major plus for the Hoodooist in Greenwich).

Taking up residence in the public conveniences underground, on weekdays, you wouldn’t know the BAC was here. Keeping the walls, the rest of the venue has been done up in black and gold art deco revival – and on Wednesdays, bringing out their chilled jazz band. I do wish that they kept the jazz throughout the week, though – the weekend pop playlist is a bit jarring with the sexy underground surrounding.

L to R: Phra Phum, and Three Wise

L to R: Phra Phum, and Three Wise

Making one’s way there for the launch of their Winter Cocktail list, I have to say, it is a major improvement on the previous menu. And this new menu (launching Dec 5th ’14) is absolutely delightful, I fell in love with it as we tasted.

Let’s begin with the Phra Phum: House Thai Gin (ginger, chilli, garlic, spring onion), lemon, sugar, egg white, House Soy Bitters. Love. Bright, spry, lively – the first hits of spring onion and chilli, then ginger and finally the simmering of garlic and hint of soy – all make an appearance in this citrusy-spicy East Asian inspired cocktail. An excellent way to start a night, and easily one of my favourites on the list.

Another one that stood out would be a light take on a dessert drink: the Grappa’s Delight brings Chamomile Grappa, Cocchi Americano, lemon, honey, green tea gelato together with a few dried chamomile blooms dusted above. Less thick than most dessert drinks, yet still with that smooth gelato texture, this cocktail is sneaky. Not a dry drink at all, the Cocchi Americano is barely noticeable, as the gelato, honey and chamomile have their way with you. The Grappa does make a sound appearance, and I’d pick this over a dessert any day of the week.

L to R: Accidentally half drunk Grappa's Delight, and A Little R & R

L to R: Accidentally half drunk Grappa’s Delight, and A Little R & R

The next two drinks go in for darker, heavier flavours. The Hit and Mist was most enjoyable – Cider poached Apple Laphroaig, Treacle Syrup, Whisky Barrel Bitters is smoked with Apple Hickory smoke. A short, strong drink and a great winter warmer, surprisingly not as sweet as you’d expect. The characteristic nature of Laphroaig, with its already smoky, and rather medicinal flavour is necessary to balance the sweeter treacle – creating a very well balanced drink that really is made by the Hickory smoke. Without it, it would lose a lot of character (like the Lost in the Woods, by PortSide Parlour, review HERE). But this exactly the kind of drink the Hoodooist would enjoy. Seductive, balanced, warm and enveloping.

The Coupe des Garcon is an odd one – named after the fashion house Comme des Garcon – puts Port, Ramazzotti, Fine Calvados and Peychaud’s Bitters in a glass wrapped in a napkin sprayed with Comme de Garcon’s Wonderwood parfum. Now here is the odd part: the Calvados is not a strong flavour, yet plays an important part in the drink with the Port and Ramazzotti and the intriguing bit is how similar to bourbon the result is – the fruity bourbon sweetness, the woodiness of the barrels, all evoked wonderfully. I suspect, though, the woodiness is in fact olfactory. The Wonderwood parfum (Hm, pepper, sandalwood, oudh? I think.) is an excellent pairing with the cocktail, making it a multisensory experience – but don’t spray it on yourself, getting it off your clothes is impossible (or off you. Or your pillowcases. Everything into the wash). Another excellent winter drink, throwing you headfirst into nature with hints of oranges, apples and spices.

The Hit and Mist

The Hit and Mist

Finally, I probably should end mentioning two drinks that, though still good, are not up to par with the above. A Little R & R is a surprisingly uncharacteristic drink (Butter-washed raisin rum, cinnamon liqueur, lemon and cardamom bitters), and in fact, comes off a bit too citrusy. I feel avoiding the lemon a bit, and relying more on a sort of butter-washed raisin rum Old Fashioned would be a better idea. Nonetheless, we have the buttery, rich mouthfeel of the rum, with a final hint of cardamom at the end. Less lemon. Always less lemon.

Lastly, the Three Wise is in fact what I started with. I was intrigued by the strangeness of the ingredients: Taylor’s 10yr Port, Brokers Gin, Gold/Frankincense/Myrrh Bitters. Yup. Served in a Japanese wooden cube (also used by the Artesian for a Japanese styled drink in a previous menu) – it can be uncomfortable to drink from, especially with that little singed stick of incense prodding your face. On one hand, a good aperitif with intense dryness – on the other hand, a bit confusing. I might enjoy it more with less gin, since it drowns out the barely noticeable figs in the port, which would be fantastically both thematically and in regard to taste. The frankincense and myrrh is certainly a nice addition – as for the gold, well. Perhaps gold leaf would be a better garnish than the incense. This drink appeals more to my intellect than my tastebuds.

The Aged Old Negronis

The Aged Old Negronis

Service at the bar is wonderful (Aged Negronis bottled to take home! Taste delicious and rounded, well-balanced). Milo (who runs a cocktail Youtube channel, Caffe Corretto), Jake and Adam are excellent company. On weekends though, the tables can get very crowded and getting attention/waiting for drinks can get a bit tiring – but one expects that on crowded nights. You will see the Hoodooist and friends at the bar, getting tanked on Hit and Mists on Wednesdays, I think.

In summary: the new menu at the Bermondsey Arts Club is formidable, original, and wonderful. Favouring the Hoodooist’s preferred style of short, but intense, these drinks are quickly taking this bar to one of my more favoured hang outs. With excellent design and atmosphere, and fun service – you’ll see me here often (at least, as often as I can. I have two bars a week to review for you people, you know.)

A major thanks to Jamie Pinkham and team for an excellent night out!

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

Bermondsey Arts Club

102A Tower Bridge Road,
London SE1 4TP

http://bermondseyartsclub.co.uk/