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/

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/

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!

CroppedOneWatermarkImage960435-16600-558556540824545-650323078-n2.jpg

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/

La Terraza Pop Up @ Number 90 Bar, Hackney Wick

Type of Bar: Pop Up, Local, Terrace
Damage££
Ideal for: Small Groups, Food, Tequila

 

This canal-side bar in Hackney takes you to Mexico for the summer!

Number 90 Bar’s Terraza serves up Mexican food from chicken tostadas, to veggie quesadillas, to tacos chilli con carne to go with your passionfruit or strawberry frozen Margaritas or Tequila Old Fashioneds along with a series of events to keep you entertained in the sun.

La Terraza Number 90 Bar cocktails summer pop up

Whether it’s yoga sessions, Hackney’s biggest DJs, or cinema screenings and bottemless Tommy’s Margaritas to prep you for cricket eating competitions, there’s something on every night for the locals of Hackney Wick this summer!

La Terraza Number 90 Bar cocktails summer pop up

From the flavoured frozen Margaritas to beat the heat, the Hoodooist went on to the Tequila Old Fashioned using Herradura Anejo –  a tequila with bright agave and more fruit than caramel, with a spicy cinnamon finish and light oaky length, it makes a great intro to Tequila Old Fashioneds.

The food is exactly what you’d expect and fits the theme, with mains at an affordable 5 quid to enjoy al fresco on a beautiful canal in the sun.

La Terraza Number 90 Bar cocktails summer pop up

Whereas the drinks menu works for an afternoon of lounging in the heat, I would’ve liked to see a greater variety of tequilas instead of the two brands provided, as good as El Jimador and Herradura are.

Until then, I’m gonna get myself another Margarita and get ready for the Summer Screens at La Terraza.

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


La Terraza Pop Up @ Number 90 Bar

90 Wallis Rd, Hackney Wick,
London E9 5LN

http://number90bar.co.uk/

Palm Club Pop Up, Dalston

Type of Bar: Pop Up, Local, Tiki
Damage£
Ideal for: Date, Small Groups 

Beachy cocktails, Kona Beer, and Tiki vibes is what’s promised at Dalton’s latest pop up bar!

Palm Club Dalston Pop Up Cocktail Bar London

A 10 second walk from Dalston Kingsland station, Palm Club Dalston will be serving up cocktails and a chilled out, funky atmosphere with your wonderful hosts Kelly and Bethan!

A design that is somehow Hawaii meets Berlin, the home-crafted venue is perfectly for lying back and chilling out with the selection of cocktails on menu.

Palm Club Dalston Pop Up Cocktail Bar London

The Kon-Tea-Ki!

The Kon-Tea-Ki mixes dark rum, cold brewed lapsang souchong tea with lemon, served on the rocks. A long citrusy cocktail with rum spice is balanced against the depth and warmth of the tea. A wonderful cocktail on its own, the Hoodooist would have preferred a little less lemon – but that is just a personal thought, since the cocktail does the job as is.

Palm Club Dalston Pop Up Cocktail Bar London

The rest of menu does lean more to the sweeter tooth.

Next we have a classic Mai Tai: Dark and white rum, orgeat, triple sec, lime and pineapple. We all know our Mai Tai’s marzipan sweetness with citrus zing and tropical pineapple for those moments we need to forget the bustle of the big smoke.

The rest of the menu serves up a Pina Colada, Frozen Watermelon Margarita, and a double G&T.

The Palm Club pop up is a fun stop to pop by next you’re in Dalston – whether for one of their workshops (like learning how to make rings!) or just to chill, or even enjoy their sparkler studded birthday cocktail. Stop by and say hi!

Palm Club is open every Thursday, Friday and Saturday evening from 6.30pm – late until the 2nd July 2016. That’s 4 more weekends to lap up some tropical vibes!

 

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

Palm Club Dalston

14 Bradbury Street, Dalston
London N16 8JN

http://www.palmclub.co.uk/

The Aperol Spritz Terrazza @Bird of Smithfield, Clerkenwell

Aperol Spritz Terrazza Summer Cocktails Bird of Smithfield Clerkenwell London

Isn’t it about time we got some summer?!

With the sudden blessed heat, Bird of Smithfield welcomes you to their summer pop up: The Aperol Spritz Terrazza!

Working with the Italian bitter aperitivo, the Terrazza serves up the perfect summer drink of the season: The Aperol Spritz.

So simple you could make it blindfolded, the three simple steps of 2 measures Aperol, three parts prosecco, and dash of soda over ice.

13221106_1111824055544931_5459433425324347584_n

A bright, refreshing cocktail with a hint of tartness and slight bitterness for intrigue, there really isn’t a better way to welcome the weather turning.

The gorgeous orange terrace boasts a bar hosted by the wonderful Stan of Bird of Smithfield, all round seating under jasmine and oranges, perfect for a summer evening as you celebrate aperitivo hour from 5-7PM with provided small plates.

The terrace will also be hosting a variety of events through the weeks, the Aperol Spritz Socials give you and opportunity to create your own wall art with Print Club London, your own radio show with Soho Radio, and help yourselves to a supperclub with Forza Win!

13173705_10154213488964559_850115582421857148_n

Course, if you’d rather go back indoors, take advantage of the GIF photobooth to share (#ItStartsNow!) your summertime Aperol Spritz moments!

13166047_1111824218878248_6992425949837710787_n

Running 6 days a week till the 31st of August, the Aperol Spritz Terrazza of Bird of Smithfield provides excellent drinks, events and a wonderful space to celebrate the summer that’s finally here
#ItStartsNow!

Aperol Spritz Terrazza Summer Cocktails Bird of Smithfield Clerkenwell London

The Aperol Spritz Terrazza 

Bird of Smithfield, Clerkenwell
26 Smithfield St, London EC1A 9LB

http://www.aperolspritzsocials.com/

The Negroni Bar Pop Up @ Red Gallery, Shoreditch

It’s here!

We all heard it was the year of the aperitif, and drinks like the Negroni have gathered steam incredibly swiftly in the past few years. Many bars could testify that they fly off the shelves, and with that, Campari has brought London a pop up bar with the largest selection of Negronis in the world!

A celebration of Campari and the iconic cocktail, the #RediscoverRed Negroni Bar has taken over the Shoreditch Red Gallery from the 11th to 21st May 2016! 30 Negroni twists prepared by bars from across the globe have all come down to London for this week. And that’s not all, a selection of East London legends from Happiness Forgets to Casita will be serving their own twists at their own venues for Negroni Week.

Red Gallery RediscoverRed Campari Negroni Bar

Boozy history lesson (at least one that the Hoodooist picked up along the way, and with alcohol – who the hell actually fact checks these things): the Bitter Florio that would inspire Campari was invented not far from the Targa Florio race track by the Sicilian Florio family – the original recipe being basically spices and herbs, cochineal beetles for colour, a touch of water, and well. Race car fuel.

Because apparently drinking fuel in the middle of the race was kinda dangerous and the drivers were up for something that tasted less like certain death.

You can see why I love Sicily, yes?

Red Gallery RediscoverRed Campari Negroni Bar

The smoky venue is absolutely smothered with gorgeous artwork celebrating Campari’s rich heritage, ads and posters from across the 20th Century are filled with tales that the staff can fill you in on. Be smart and grab a seat at the bar because this place is gonna get rammed.

Having prepared ourselves for the massive list, we went for a couple of similar twists that both used one of the Hoodooist’s favourite ingredients: Cynar artichoke bitter.

 

Red Gallery RediscoverRed Campari Negroni Bar

Round 1!

It’s 6PM, our chats with Ben from Casita is taking us through the menu, and we already know what we want:

The Harbord Room, Toronto brought in The Bittersweet Melodies – Campari, Cinzano Bianco vermouth, Cynar, Bulldog gin and orange bitters for a classic dry Negroni with the rounded smoothness of the Cynar, along with its slightly smoky, savoury flavour – a fun and classic twist to the classic cocktail, and a good one to lead with. A fab choice, highly recommended.

Up against it, Knokke’s The Pharmacy brings in The Belgian – which doesn’t sound very, well, Belgian. Campari, Appleton Estate rum, Cinzano Rosso vermouth and beloved Cynar. Bit on the sweet side, flavour notes are slightly conflicted, spices and treacle. It is still a decent drink, but when set up against The Bittersweet Melodies in the same round, pales.

Red Gallery RediscoverRed Campari Negroni Bar

The Sao Paulo!

Round 2!

Harry and Jay of Loves Company are here! Which basically means we’re already throwing back whiskey. Already seeing tomorrow’s forecast

The Sao Paulo versus the Mezcal and Hum!

The Sao Paulo is actually the booziest one of the night, but you wouldn’t tell it!

I myself still need to be sold on coffee cocktails, but if they’re your style, then the smooth and long Sao Paulo will provide you with a sweet mix of Campari, Aperol, Vermouth, Gin and coffee. The sweet flavours really stand out, quite surprisingly – fruit from the Aperol and vermouth simmer as the coffee dominates the orange citrus cocktail.

And then there’s the Mezcal and Hum Negroni. Muscling in with powerful flavours inspired by the home of their bar, the Manhattan in Singapore, Campari meets Mancino Rosso vermouth, Alipus Baltazar mezcal, and the Hum liqueur made from hibiscus, ginger, kaffir lime and cardamom. A complex, dry and seductive cocktail, powerfully smoky, with spicy sweet notes from the mezcal pepperiness, hibiscus and vermouth – matched by the citrus herbal notes of the kaffir, ending on a finish of ginger and cardamom.

Love. Love. Love. This. Cocktail.

Red Gallery RediscoverRed Campari Negroni Bar

The Mezcalito, and The Morocco!

Round 3!

Chats with the ambassador of Aperol after spraying him with soda at the Aperol Terrazza in Smithfield is always a pleasure – should be because you got to respect anyone who makes Aperol Spritzes blindfolded (yes, really).

The Mezcalito by Mauro’s Negroni Club Munich brings some ingredients I love together: Campari, Cinzano 1757 vermouth, mezcal and Cynar, and yet…. Somehow it doesn’t quite stand up to the Mezcal and Hum.

Maybe it is clashing flavours. Maybe the black salt and cinnamon rim is just a bit too much (which it definitely is). I really wanted to enjoy this, but sadly, sometimes mixing things you love to together doesn’t work out. Like turducken?

The Morocco came all the way from the Mai Thai bar in Marrakech! Campari, Bulldog gin, Cinzano Rosso vermouth, peach liqueur with a garnish of date and rose petals.

All I could taste was peach.

Draw? Draw.

Red Gallery RediscoverRed Campari Negroni Bar portside parlour

PortSide Parlour’s Vintage Negroni, and Vin Tonique!

Round 4!

 

Alright, we have wandered from the wonderful Negroni Bar to PortSide Parlour on Rivington for their Negroni Week specials – it’s the Vin Tonique against the (insider’s tip, ssh): Vintage Negroni!

Alright, the Vin Tonique, we have Campari, Plantation 3* rum, Byrrh, absinthe, and Angostura bitters. Hm. I will be honest here, it’s sweet and powerfully herbal and though my friend enjoyed this, I couldn’t help but think of mouthwash. Perhaps either the Byrrh or absinthe tipped it over here, and wonder what it would be like without one of them.

The Vintage Negroni is…is honeyed hedonism. Bottles of Campari, Martini Rosso vermouth, and Plymouth gin from the 1980s are mixed to prepare a classic Negroni – with all the flavours you love with an added aged roundedness and sweetness. Powerful honey finishes made this a drink I absolutely adore. An absolute must try.

Red Gallery RediscoverRed Campari Negroni Bar Casita

Casita’s Red Rosita!

And where else does a night end?!

Casita has us again, with their obscenely well-priced Red Rosita: Campari, El Jimador Reposado tequila, Antica Formula vermouth, and a Grenache/Syrah blend for a smooth, long cocktail with bite. Complexity from the wine, the winter fruit warmth of the Antica, the peppery naughtiness of the El Jimador, and of course – the bitter Campari – all make for a wonderful combo.

A great way to end the evening.

 

Negroni Week is an amazing opportunity to witness how London and the world interpret the classic legendary cocktail that is the Negroni, and the Campari’s Negroni Bar is the way to do it! A casual, fun atmosphere and banging drinks makes this a pop up this spring that you do not want to miss.

So go ahead, and #RediscoverRed.

Salute!

The Negroni Bar @ The Red Gallery
11th – 21st May

1-3 Rivington St, Shoreditch
London EC2A 3DT

http://rediscover.red/

 

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/

Farang pop up @ The Lodge, Clapham

Type of Bar: Bar/Restaurant, Thai, Pop Up
Damage£ – ££
Ideal for: Date, Small Groups, Food

Working together at the Brook Green Farmer’s Market in West London, Seb Holmes of The Begging Bowl and Smoking Goat fame, and Tomas Lenko, mastermind behind the impossibly popular Bold London Spirit, have set up a three night pop up at The Lodge Clapham!

With Seb at the grill and Tomas behind the bar, Farang brings Thai street food with a greater focus on seasonal ingredients, at all their pop-ups, supperclubs, and street markets. The modestly sized venue at The Lodge also hosts a private dining space upstairs which seats groups of 10-12, with its own personal balcony looking over Clapham North.

Let’s have a look at the cocktails!

Farang London Thai pop up cocktails food restaurant

A favourite of bars like the Sun Tavern, and Discount Suit Co., Bold London Spirit is not to be confused with a cherry liqueur! At a solid 36% ABV, this all-natural cherry aperitif mixes 15 botanicals including sour cherries, juniper berries and cassia bark for a spicy bitter spirit that is lightly sweet and floral, adding a fun twist to cocktails that demand Maraschino or more warming flavours.

Tomas explains that the cocktail menu for Farang veers toward the sweeter side to contrast with the punchy, spicier flavours of the dishes.

Beginning with an amuse bouche of sorts: a short citrusy shot of Bold with gojiberry, and plum bitters, we order our aperitifs.

Unlikely for an aperitif, the Smoked Thai Ice Tea mixes lapsang souchong tea, Bold spirit, cherry reduction, fresh lemon juice, layered with coconut milk. Served long, this cocktail is served beautifully – so do allow yourself a little cry when you realise that you have to stir the drink to mix the coconut milk with the drink.

A starter milkshake of sorts, the cocktail is sweet and velvety with the light milk. Like many of the cocktails on the menu, is granted a smoky profile thanks to the lapsang souchong, which lingers in the background as the cherry and cassia dominate the cocktail.

It’s been a while since the Hoodooist enjoyed a sweeter drink, and this was it!

Farang London Thai pop up cocktails food restaurant

The Smoked Thai Ice Tea!

The Toasted Coconut Negroni is for the crowd with less of a sweet tooth: brings together Bold spirit, campari, toasted coconut infused gin. This deep, dark cocktail has some serious swagger, a quick bright wash of Campari is immediately followed by the cherry, and finally – a powerful hit of sweet and smoky coconut, with a trail of juniper to follow.

You want to let this one smoke in its bottle for a bit before pouring it, and don’t take your time with it either. Letting it sit sends the flavours haywire. Enjoy promptly while making your order.

13012754_10154144439319559_8403436176213917195_n

The Toasted Coconut Negroni

Finally, the Ong-Bak: Barrel-aged Bold spirit stirred with SangSom rum, wolfberries and aromatic bitters. I have to admit, I struggled with this one – not to say it was a bad drink, no – it was kind of a rollercoaster of flavours here. If you’re looking for something more bitter, aromatic, and dry, you found your drink!

Farang London Thai pop up cocktails food restaurant

Farang’s brief food menu aims at sharing plates where you dig in and get messy, and comes in small and large portions. Not knowing what to expect, the pair of us went for two large and two small plates and found ourselves with entirely too much to eat – yet still ended up demolishing most of the food, wracked with guilt with not being about to devour all of it.

Beginning with the small (but still sizable) plates of Crispy Vegetable Wontons with Sweet Chilli Dipping Sauce, and Tempura Vegetables and Burnt Chilli Dipping Sauce – both dishes are simple and elegant.

The wontons being among the better I’ve experienced. No unnecessary parcelling here – there is only as much wrapper that is absolutely needed, leaving more to the spiced herbs and vegetables inside. The tempura vegetables come with betel leaves, lightly curried, and served with an exquisite smoked grilled  chilli sauce I wish I always had on me!

 

Farang London Thai pop up cocktails food restaurant

Gola Chicken Satay in banana leaves

For our large plates we began with the Nham Prik Ong with Asian Vegetables and Grilled Sardines – out of sardines, a large grilled mackerel accompanied the Nham Prik Ong: a rich minced pork and tomato relish with dried soy bean, raw vegetables, and East Asian herbs. Deciding to just go in for the kill by using the vegetables or salted turmeric butter roti to scoop up the mince – much less stressful than picking through the mackerel’s bones in the then-dim light of the restaurant.

 

Finally, the Half a Free-Range Baby Gola Chicken cooked in Banana Leaves – as much as I dislike the word, ‘succulent’ is really the best description here. This is pretty damn sizable for half a baby chicken.

Tender and so juicy, the banana leaves are unwrapped to reveal the chicken steaming and sauced with peanuts, with powerful flavours of traditional ginger and garlic, coconut, sweet basil, and cumin. For someone who normally steers clear of chicken, ordering the Gola Chicken was a decision I’m glad we made.

Farang London Thai pop up cocktails food restaurant

“Farang is open at the lodge this Monday 18th and the following 25th from 5:30-10:00, and though it’s looking busy so far for these weeks, there might still availability for both, bookings via info@faranglondon.co.uk.
After this, Farang is doing its next San Daniele del Friuli supper club in Highbury at 15:00 on May 2nd, with the menu launching this week, it will be including dishes such as curried sharing crab and green tea, pandan and condensed milk ice cream with banana fritters. Farang will also celebrating A late Thai new year at this event with a selection of wines from Thai wine producers Monsoon Valley. Bookings for this are also open now via info@faranglondon.co.uk !”

Basically: Grab a seat if you can get one.

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

 

Farang @ The Lodge
18th and 25th April

409 Clapham Rd, Clapham North
London SW9 9BT

http://www.faranglondon.co.uk/
http://www.boldspiritslondon.com/