MASH Steak 2016, Soho

Type of Bar: Bar/Restaurant, Basement
Damage££ – £££
Ideal for: Date, Small Groups, Large Groups, Steak, Originality

 

Ah, MASH. The Danish-American steak venture is bound to have a surge in bar visitors with the introduction of their new menu, taking on more international influences.

MASH’s enormous Lynchian red and black pseudo-Deco décor retains that element of American-but-not-quite, and I must still recommend seating right up at the bar for the best lighting and experience with the wonderful bartenders and service offered (the service, as always, was impeccable. It’s one of MASH’s greatest strengths – shout out to bartender Steve!). This is, of course, if you are coming for the bar and not for the meal, in which case there is the gargantuan restaurant and red booths that are open to you. However, one must recommend the bar snacks, especially the MASH tartare and chilli fries; as well as the jalapeno cheese balls.

 

So the cocktails! We provided a review of their glorious 2015 cocktail list, and look forward to covering this year’s!

Though the new menu is meant to evoke a USA Frontier to Prohibition era apothecary, one will see inspirations from Scandinavia, Central Europe and Italy. And though it has kept a small handful of drinks from the old menu, MASH has developed a large and innovative new selection. Often working with spirit companies to help create bespoke glassware for their drinks; personally, the glassware can be a highlight of the drinking experience here.

Though we went through the entire new menu, let us cover the ones that stand out here today.

MASH Soho London Cocktail Bar

Because why not.

If you wanna start with a winner – remember the name: Sunshine State Fix. A desserty digestivo, the cocktail mixes Bacardi 8 Rum, pistachio liqueur, lemon juice, orgeat, egg white and chocolate bitters.

A cocktail take on gelato, if anything, the sweetness of Sicilian pistachios (and we all know how the Hoodooist loves Sicilian pistachios) blends wonderfully with the rum, and the finish wafts in with hints of almond and citrus.

Rarely does the Hoodooist enjoy a dessert, particularly one with chocolate bitters, but my word. The Sunshine State Fix is exquisite.

MASH Soho London Cocktail Bar

The Binchotan

The Binchotan uses a stick of white Japanese charcoal to filter and mellow the normally sharp flavours of Bulleit Rye, with Slovakian Tatra Tea Coconut, cardamom bitters and sugar.

An improvement on the ingredients of the Binchotan of 2015’s menu – the Hoodooist might love Cynar from the old recipe, but the new concoction is a major improvement.

The technique used to mellow the rye though, also mellows out the rest of the flavours, but not to the extent as last year’s Binchotan, where the flavours muddled together. The Tatra tea is much stronger, turning what used to be a Bourbon Old Fashioned to a spiced, silky (though slightly syrupy) sweetened Rye cocktail for adults.

I like the slow melting ice, but not when the ice is taller than the glass, making it an interference to drink. Your index finger is necessary here.

MASH Soho London Cocktail Bar

The Mexican Smuggler

Now here is a star. A hit with the Hoodooist and friends, the Mexican Smuggler mixes Casco Viejo Blanco tequila, Del Maguey Vida mezcal, basil and Szechuan pepper sugar, lime, MASH Pilsner, garnished with Serrano ham crisp.

Okay. Hear me out. I actually enjoyed a beer cocktail.

I know I told off House of Peroni for making me lose faith in beer cocktails, but MASH has helped me reconsider. The light and slightly tart drink almost plays the part of citrus to pair with the peppery and herbal tequila, and the wonderfully smoky mezcal.

A long finish allows you to enjoy the spices of the mezcal, ginger and cinnamon, which burst to life with a bite of the Serrano ham. Drink this.

MASH Soho London Cocktail Bar

Steve and the One of This!

You might have questions for the One of This. This is one hell of a complex cocktail which even left the Hoodooist quizzical.

Powerfully herbal and minty Fernet Branca meets Disaronna amaretto, lemon, sugar, peach bitters and maraschino with egg white – served with wonderfully nostalgic fizzy sweets.

My recommendation with this cocktail is for it to be shaken longer with smaller ice cubes, because over time, the flavours blended and harmonised wonderfully. Maraschino cherried, the initial fruity sweetness is followed by a tart and herbal hit to sides of the tongue, and gentian root quinine depth that fizzes to the surface with the lighter fruit flavours once again.

Bit of a rollercoaster, in the best of ways. Certainly an acquired taste, for the adventurous palate.

MASH Soho London Cocktail Bar

The BLT

Okay so, I love Becherovka. I don’t understand why more bartenders don’t use it, because this Czech spirit deserves a more notable place in the back bar.

The BLT is one odd but beautiful drink. Heir to last year’s fabulous Yosemite cocktail, this simpler drink mixes the bitter spirit with tonic reduction and sparkling wine for a true Prohibition era revivifier.

The spices don’t play as strong a part as they did in last year’s Yosemite, instead what we get is the crisp bitter Becherovka dancing and swirling with the herbal quinine of the tonic reduction and the sweetness of the sparkling wine and sugar rim for a bright, sparkling, daytime aperitif. Absolutely adore the simplicity of the BLT because have not had enough of the gin and tonic?!

MASH Soho London Cocktail Bar

The Konik’s Whisperer

Brought in by the absolutely wonderful ambassador of Konik’s Tail Vodka, the Konik’s Whisperer is popularised by ambassador Swanand Korgaonkar.

The cocktail is named after the Berkeley and American Bar alum, nicknamed the Konik’s Whisperer because goddamn can this man sell a drink. Konik’s Tail Vodka meets Vya Dry Vermouth, cardamom bitters and a twist of lemon. Powerfully dry, this cocktail explores the various complex flavours of this award-winning vodka.

Though I find that this cocktail focuses far more on the vermouth’s flavours, with cardamom ruling the roost. If you like your Vodka Martinis smooth and sleek, this is not your drink. The Konik’s Whisperer is a violent plunge into a swirl of flavours.

MASH Soho London Cocktail Bar

L – R: The Danish Crown, and Persephone’s Seed.

The above drinks are stars, this one is a bit confusing: we have the  the Danish Crown.

 

The Danish Crown is impressive and unique, but slinks to the side of bizarre: Fat washed Geneivre, Lillet Rouge vermouth, chocolate bitters, creme de cassis, and lemon.

Fried chicken. I love fried chicken. I’m not sure about drinking a sweetened liquid friend chicken though.

I mean I still drank it, but its that feeling you get after watching an episode of Geordie Shore. Like, do I need a shower? Or 50 Hail Marys? I’d probably still drink it is someone bought it for me, though. Because fried chicken. I’m so confused.

MASH Soho London Cocktail Bar

The fabulous Swanand shaking those Daiquiris

The NYC Calling is not a bad drink, but has so many ingredients it misses the point. Hudson Four Grain bourbon, Bacardi 8 rum, Martini Gran Lusso vermouth, creme de cafe, maple, sea salt solution, and Angostura bitters.

I do enjoy the hit of sea salt in the cocktail, but this sweet drink on the rocks can be easily replicated with an Anejo Rum Old Fashioned and a sprinkle of sea salt with far fewer ingredients.

 

Finally, the For Him is the one drink we didn’t actually like at all.

I’d avoid it altogether. First of all, it is part of a pair – the For Her/For Him. My peated whisky swigging female pal and I glanced at each other with the ‘sweeter For Her’ and the ‘bitter For Him’. Who doesn’t love casual and unnecessary gendering of alcohol.

The cocktail itself is Zacapa rum, pear liqueur, pear eau d’vie, chocolate bitters, Mozart chocolate liqueur, with sea salt solution.

I hate to say it, but this doesn’t work.

But I’d like to remind the reader that this is in comparison to the wonderful, fabulous winners that are the Sunshine State Fix, the Binchotan, Mexican Smuggler, BLT, One of This, and the rest of those incredible drinks on the MASH 2016 menu!

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All in all? What an exciting menu! Though less experimental and sensual than 2015’s menu, it is still full of originality. Coupled with their incredible service, MASH is still up the list for innovative cocktails in London, and easily one of my most favoured places in Soho.

 

Drinks: **** 
Atmosphere: *** on seats, ***** at bar
Service: *****

 

MASH Steak

77 Brewer Street,
London,W1F 9ZN.

http://www.mashsteak.co.uk/

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MASH Steak 2015, Soho

Type of Bar: Bar/Restaurant, Experimental, 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 (particularly Danish) 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). 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.

 

So the cocktails! Though the new menu is meant to evoke a trip across the USA, 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.

 

The Woody Woodpecker

The Woody Woodpecker

First, let’s get one of the drinks from that has remained on the new menu from the last one – with good reason, it is excellent: the Woody Woodpecker was covered in our review of the 5th day of London Cocktail Week 2014: CLICK.

 

The Yosemite

The Yosemite

And let’s get one of our favourite drinks out of the way: The Yosemite is incredible.  Ketel One Vodka, St. George Terroir Gin, Becherovka liqueur, pine, maple, almond and lemon. How does one describe this drink? It was the moment I stepped out of a plane to face the vast, intimidating forests an hour outside of Stockholm. The crispness of the wind and that silent-noise that comes with being surrounded by pine trees. For some reason many expect a pine inspired drink to come off a bit medicinal, especially with Becherovka, but this certainly isn’t – the Yosemite is a masterfully balanced cocktail.

A smooth mouthfeel with a late tingle finish, and long length. On the nose, a brilliant array of light herbs, sage and pine. Flavour-wise, a complex arrangement of bright, crisp flavours. Initially, a cold wake-up call of the Ketel One’s signature citrus and the pine, followed almost immediately by the gin’s sage and Douglas fir. The maple is introduced to work well with the bitter notes of medicinal Becherovka, letting out its more spicy botanicals, like clove (and maybe ginger?). Finally, the almond brings the rollercoaster to an end. What a killer drink.

 

The Solvang

The Solvang

On the same tangent as bright and citrus, the Solvang is another great addition to the menu. Dill Akvavit, apple, celery water, lemon with a rim of smoked salt and fennel seed finally gives Akvavit the attention it deserves in London. Your first experience will be the perfectly salted rim: smoked salt and fennel seeds, which complement the drink exquisitely. The primary flavours of the cocktail are initially, the citrus, then the dill akvavit, and finally the celery. You’ll notice the apple plays more a part of restraining some of the flavours rather than masking them or taking a prominent place. And excellent aperitif.

 

The Little Italy

The Little Italy

The Little Italy is a complex gastronomical cocktail: Martini Rosso, apple brandy infused with porcini mushrooms, Amaro, bitters, granita of cherry and parsley. This presents one of the most impressive glassware in the house. The cocktail itself is poured into a warped Eiswein glass, with an upturned cone places above it, with a straw running into the cocktail, and enough space for the cherry and parsley granita above to dilute and pour into the cocktail, sweetening the flavour as time goes on – you are also provided a spoon if you wish to attack the granita yourself. The drink is powerfully Martini Rosso with its rounded red fruit flavours, followed by the slightly herbal Amaro and bitters, finally ending on the apple brandy and the earthy woodland notes of the porcini mushrooms and cherry granita. Though a complex and good drink, well balanced and not too herbal, I feel it satisfies my intellect more than my palate, purely out of the intense sweetness of it, I suppose. But still a drink I highly recommend – especially that since it uses so many ingredients associated with an aperitif, it is very much an after dinner drink.

 

Dusting the Seattle Set

Dusting the Seattle Set

On the note of after-dinner drinks, the Seattle Set is an interesting twist on an Espresso Martini. Zacapa 23 rum, matcha tea, chocolate, raspberry vinegar and coffee. Beginning with the initial harsh hit of coffee, with the rounded, green, velvet mouthfeel of the matcha and its bitter tang, the toffeeness of the rum introduces the chocolate and beautiful addition of the raspberry vinegar – slightly tart, and adding a great dimension to the cocktail. It tastes more like a raspberry liqueur chocolate than an espresso martini.

 

Preparing the 3 step Mad Hatte

Preparing the 3 step Mad Hatte

But things are about to get stranger. The Mad Hatter is a hot tea-based cocktail that uses a V60 to prepare. The entire thing is complicated with heating of the pre-prepped concoction poured over a dry tea blend. Bulleit bourbon, crème de peche, maraschino, hibiscus, and a hint of vanilla is heated and poured over a tea blend of many ingredients, including apricot, peppermint, and stevia leaves, over a frozen ginger and lemon gelatin. I’m not sure how I feel about this drink – on one hand, it is still pleasant, on the other, the flavours kind of assault you all at once. Let me explain. The orange concoction begins with a punch in the face of peach, bourbon and apricot all at once, settling on the ginger and peppermint at the end. It’s all quite overwhelming – and yet, still pleasant. It manages to be warming and inviting, and yet not too reminiscent of having a cold, though you notice the similarity – so it’s an excellent job to not be medicinal. Also, drink it quickly while it’s hot.

 

Let’s tackle two drinks that are good ideas, but in practice can be a bit more difficult, and certainly target the more experienced drinker. Subtlety is the key to these two.

First, the Binchotan uses a stick of Binchotan Japanese charcoal to filter and mellow the normally sharp flavours of Bulleit bourbon, with coconut, cardamom, Cynar and sugar. The technique used to mellow the bourbon though, also mellows out the rest of the flavours. So one needs to focus to get more out of the flavours than just the Cynar and hint of coconut – it does risk becoming an Old Fashioned to the less experienced palate. Perhaps adding the flavours to the Binchotan filtered bourbon after instead of keeping them in the same pre-prepped bottle might help. I like the idea of the MASH logo printed on the ice, but not when the ice is taller than the glass, making it an interference to drink. A good drink to relax with altogether, though somewhat underwhelming.

Another drink in this category would be the Sipper. The custom glass it is served in was developed by the MASH team to provide a specific pour for the drinker, to coat the tongue and focus the heady vapours directly to the drinker. A very good idea, generally. The flavour pack is added in a very low ratio: Corn whisky, maraschino, chocolate, absinth, orange bitters. The first taste just screams whiskey, followed by chocolate and orange bitters. The absinth is more ambient. An intriguing drink if you have a long while to sip it. You want food to accompany this one.

The Binchotan

The Binchotan

 

Finally, the most enigmatic of the menu, and certainly the riskiest to order. The Test Tube.
The Test Tube serves up 3 test tubes of Bulleit bourbon infused with different flavours. First, Violette, then St. Germain elderflower, finally, apricot bee-pollen. You are provided droppers with 3 separate bitters, recommended for each infusion: Angostura for the Violette, peach for the elderflower, and orange for the apricot bee pollen. Either way, you are encouraged to experiment to find your preferred flavour.

As you can see, it is certainly not for the novice, since if you mess up a test tube once, fixing it would not be possible. First to keep in mind, it is a sharp drink, bourbon fans primarily. I found that if you stuck to the recommendations, elderflower/peach was the most accessible.

However, my favourite ended up being the apricot bee-pollen, with two bitters, Angostura and Orange at a 1:2 ratio, after it chilled a bit in the ice casing.

The West Side Apertivo (Tequila, Kamm & Sons, rhubarb, apple, lemon, almond and pink peppercorn syrup) ends up too fizzy, too orange, too tart. It’s the one drink other the Test Tube I don’t see myself ordering again – the latter primarily because effort *bent wrist to perspiring forehead*.

 

The Test Tube

The Test Tube

All in all? What an exciting menu! It is a major improvement on their last overly sweet menu, and has matured, finding its place in experimentation and involvement of various senses. Coupled with their incredible service, MASH is surging high up the list for innovative cocktails in London, and getting to be one of my most favoured places in Soho.

 

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

 

MASH Steak

77 Brewer Street,
London,W1F 9ZN.

http://www.mashsteak.co.uk/