The Elephant’s Head, Hackney

Type of BarBar/Restaurant, Pub
Damage££
Ideal forFoodDateSmall Groups, SundaysAfter Work

 

It’s firmly back in place!
The Elephant’s Head has reclaimed it’s spot at 43 Lower Clapton! Which is exactly what we all needed after years of the venue changing hands.

The pub has itself ready for anything, a spot to spend the night with friends, a dim lit room to nurse a hangover, and not mention, a fantastic Sunday roast.

And they ain’t too shabby on the cocktail front! Classics with a few signatures, the bar knows what they do, and do it well.

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Before our late night roast makes its way in, we sit below the beautiful stained glass ceiling nursing an El Chapo and a Martinez.

The classic Martinez has gin, sweet vermouth, maraschino liqueur and Angostura bitters, but this classic is twisted slightly with a 2:1 gin:vermouth rather than the old 1:1. The result is a lighter, brighter, much more balanced and modern cocktail.

The El Chapo stands out tonight as the best of the bar’s signature cocktails: Ocho Tequila, agave syrup, lime, ginger syrup, a mezcal float with candied ginger garnish. The sweet agave of the tequila and light white pepperiness is followed up by citrus to end with a crackle of ginger. Simple, clean, wonderful.

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After a plate of wings, a classic Japanese Cocktail makes an appearance with cognac, orgeat, lemon juice and Angostura bitters – sweet with almond and orange flavours, with an undercurrent of ripe fruit and oaky vanilla from the cognac. Certainly for the sweet tooth.

The roast sirloin was perfectly medium rare, but what we were cheering on were those incredible infinite trimmings. Tenderstem broccoli with peppered sweet root vegetables, roast potatoes that though simple were entirely too addictive, and *that* cheesy cauliflower with that distinct honeyed sweetness.

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After a second helping of the methtatoes, the now unable to move Hoodooist and co. order Gin, and Tequila Old Fashioneds, respectively.

The Gin Old Fashioned gave us rosemary infused gin, maple syrup, and black walnut bitters – which is a promising recipe, but the maple could overpower the rosemary gin – although that’s easily sorted by asking for a little less maple syrup for a sweet and savoury digestif.

The Tequila Old Fashioned I wanted extra spicy, and extra spicy I got it: tequila, chilli, agave syrup, grapefruit bitters, for a brighter alternative to the Gin variant. The agave and the tequila give us the sweet and earthy, while the grapefruit and chilli go bright and effervescent. What an excellent combo.

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I’m glad the Elephant’s Head is back, and better than ever. With quality cocktails at a price you couldn’t frown at, the most dramatic WCs ever (no, seriously), and all the methtatoes with that excellent roast, the EH makes a great spot to spend a Sunday afternoon.

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

 

The Elephant’s Head

43 Lower Clapton Rd, Hackney
London E5 0NS, UK

https://www.elephanthackney.com/

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The Sun Tavern, Bethnal Green

Type of Bar: Pub (?), Whisky, Poitin
Damage: £
Ideal for: Sundays, Lounge, Small Groups, Date

 

Reopening last year, regulars were glad to see that the Sun Tavern retained its pub atmosphere, blurring the line between pub and cocktail bar. The biggest perk of the venue is its morning opening, serving pastries and coffee, and pub grub throughout the day (alongside its Neal’s Yard sourced charcuterie).

And this is all alongside its selection of craft beers and Irish Poitin (a pretty large collection considering it only being legalised about 3 years ago).
Small, with bare brick, a sizable bar, and a fantastic playlist from Zeppelin, to Ram Jam, to the Talking Heads – the Sun Tavern is your local boozer with quiet confidence in its skill and product. And confident they should be – the cocktails are incredible.

Sun Tavern Bar Bethnal Green London Cocktail

The One For The Road, sausage roll not included ;P

Beginning with a sausage and stilton roll, the Hoodooist orders a One For the Road: Irish Whiskey, Peated Irish Whiskey, English Spiced Vermouth, Amaro Montenegro. Such a beautiful cocktail – the initial hit is of the Amaro’s rosewater, quickly retreating into the whiskey, with a quick buildup of peat, smoking its way in. Once that smoky wave subsides, spices come forth from the Amaro and vermouth (which I’m going to guess is by Sacred Distilleries, with its hints of liquorice and cinnamon). The cocktail, though peaty, is very light, and works well in the daytime.

Sun Tavern Bar Bethnal Green London Cocktail

The Red Lombriz

The Red Lombriz wanders into sweeter territory: Mezcal, Raspberries, Agave Syrup, Lemon, Chocolate Bitters. Pink and dusted with chocolate shavings, it’s certainly a looker – citrus and sweet dominate the drink, with agave syrup’s unique flavour working surprisingly well with raspberries. The chocolate bitters do a great job at rounding out the drink.

Sun Tavern Bar Bethnal Green London Cocktail

The Fleur de Lis

Back to whiskey, the Fleur de Lis brings Irish Double Whiskey, Cognac, Cynar, Lime, and Pecan Syrup together to make a slightly thick, and laid back kicker of drink. I find this one difficult to describe. It somehow manages a distinct citrus to it even while bringing the whiskey’s butterscotch sweetness – suspect the whiskey might be a Glendalough? The cognac grants a depth and warmth to it, probably enhanced by the pecan. The Cynar being a Hoodooist favourite helps provide balance to the sweetness.

Sun Tavern Bar Bethnal Green London Cocktail

The Wake

Finally, The Wake: 3yr Guyanese rum, Suze, Overproof Poitin, Lemon – Of course, the overproof Poitin bit is fascinating, as it can run well into the 90% ABV. The nose is loud, sour, and almost like sand after rain – not soil, not earth, sand. The 3 yr rum, which I’m gonna hazard a guess at El Dorado 3yr, provides a coconut and hay flavour, and dry – harmonises well with the Suze’s bitter gentian. That drop of Poitin is what, I suspect, adds to the dry, grassy, white rum flavours. Long, dry, citrus, bitter – the cherry at the end is a major contrast, and seems to soak up the Poitin like a shot because wow it’s a kick in the teeth.

 

It was difficult to keep up with the One for the Road (or even the Fleur de Lis), but the short cocktail list manages to be incredibly original, hard-hitting, exquisitely prepared and a bargain. Service is exceptionally swift, whether at bar or table.

The Sun Tavern’s easily the Hoodooist’s favourite new spot in Bethnal Green.

 

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

 

The Sun Tavern

441 Bethnal Green Road
London E2 0AN

http://www.thesuntavern.co.uk/

The Jam Tree, Clapham

Type of BarBar/Restaurant
Damage££
Ideal for: Brunch, Sundays, Small Groups

 

Last night’s whisky barely worn off, the only way to sort it out is a Sunday roast and a Bloody Mary.

Bring on the Jam Tree! From the guys who brought you Fu Manchu, Clapham North (Click HERE for Review!)

Keep in mind, the venue was reviewed on a Sunday morning, so the Hoodooist can’t speak for how crowded it might get on a Saturday night, but it certainly looks like a party venue with the Wrong Trousers Day!

Jam Tree Brunch Cocktails

But this Sunday brought the sun back out, and the large outdoor lounging area was open behind the hidden bookcase bar. Shades donned, roasts ordered, the Hoodooist and pal went through three rounds: Two drinks from the Bloody Mary menu, two from the usual cocktail menu, and two from off the menu.

Jam Tree Brunch Cocktails

The Bloody Marys: a Classic, and a Wasabi Mary. The Classic Bloody Mary is exactly what you want from it – just the right amount of savour sauce and Tabasco kick.

The Wasabi Mary adds (wait for it) wasabi and soy sauce, much to the Hoodooist’s delight. A nice jolt first thing in the morning.

Jam Tree Brunch Cocktails

Foreground: Damson in a Dress; Background: Confiture

Post-Roast (the highlight of which is the fantastic black pudding), two cocktails from the menu were ordered: the Damson in a Dress, and Confiture.

The signature cocktail list is lengthy, definitely. But has a slight drawback. They’ve all tried a bit too hard to fit into the ‘jam’ theme – which doesn’t always work to their advantage.

Neither the Confiture, nor the Damson were satisfactory, and seemed forced, though their ideas were good. You see what you get with The Confiture – Cariel Vanilla Vodka, raspberry jam, pineapple juice and Chambord, comes off a bit muddled, and should be served at a lower temperature, if possible.

The Damson in a Dress, dressed up in chocolate net, brought Damson Vodka, Martini Bianco, lime jam and prosecco together, but tasted overwhelmingly of Martini Bianco. Can’t think of a way to help this one.

Jam Tree Brunch Cocktails

Foreground: Laphroaig 10yr Old Fashioned; Background: Maker’s Mark Whisky Sour

But there is an upside! Ordering off-menu proved to be a good idea – showing that the skills are present.

A Maker’s Mark Sour is what you’d want from a Sour – the lemon juice tempers the distinct bourbon’s spices, butterscotch and vanilla, with an oaky finish.

And a Laphroaig 10yr Old Fashioned is served with slow-melting ice (well done). Excellently dry and smoky, the sugar brings out the medicinal flavours full force. Once the iodine flavour dies down, it’s followed by seaweed, maybe liquorice? Very enjoyable to lie back and relax with.

 

Our bartender seemed rather pleased for the off-menu order, especially with the particular whisky orders – off menu seems to be the way to go!

Service is excellent, at least on these quiet Sunday mornings – attentive, swift, conversational.

 

The Jam Tree is attempting to add the cocktail bar to the gastropub and succeeds so far as classics are always successful when made with a keen hand. However, the signature cocktail list needs much to be desired since a cocktails cannot be twisted into any form to fit a theme. But the talent is present, so if in the area in need of brunch with a fab Bloody Mary on the side, Clapham has a spot.

 

Drinks: Signature Cocktails: *, Bloody Marys and off-menu drinks: ***
Atmosphere: ***
Service: ****

 

The Jam Tree Clapham

13 – 19 Old Town,
London SW4 0JT

http://www.thejamtree.com/clapham/

Arabica Bar & Kitchen, London Bridge

Type of Bar: Bar/Restaurant, Levantine
Damage££
Ideal for: Food, Lazy Lunch, Sundays, MeetingsSmall Groups

Borough Market has welcomed yet another spectacular restaurant in the form of Arabica, once a Borough Market stall itself. Serving up food from the Levant with contemporary takes, Arabica brings a necessary cuisine to the area (done well, at least). An open plan space perfect for a lazy lunch.

Besides an excellent selection in food, Arabica offers a short cocktail list of classics with Near Eastern twists.

Let’s start off with a personal favourite: the Mujrim. A development on a Dry Manhattan, bourbon, dry vermouth and lemon meet pomegranate molasses. As you can imagine, the end product is much sweeter than a Dry Manhattan, but dry vermouth is necessary to not make the cocktail too sweet. The flavours are all distinct – with its spectacular simplicity, the Mujrim isn’t necessarily a dessert cocktail, but better to have without food so that it doesn’t drown out the pomegranate molasses.

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Rayyan Gin Fizz (L), Mujrim (R)

 

The Sassine Square is a much more subtle flavour outside the intense high-rye bourbon and bitters – the date syrup is almost too quiet. Perhaps a bit more and here we have an excellent dessert drink.

The Nana Ti (Cuban and Jamaican rums, lemon, cacao, wild mint) is a supremely clean flavour to be paired with food. I notice the recipe for the Rayyan Gin Fizz since the soft launch: removing the rose water – a very good move since the rose water was overpowering. Now, Arak Brun, orange blossom water, orange and cardamom marmalade, citrus, and cream. Yes, it sounds complex, but is far lighter in person.

Arabica is certainly a new destination in the area, and its cocktails do not fail to disappoint! I just wish I knew what they intend to do with the bottle of QuiQuiRiQui mezcal that’s on their shelf.

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

Arabica Bar & Kitchen

3 Rochester Walk,
Borough Market,
London SE1 9AF

http://www.arabicabarandkitchen.com/

The Lost Angel & Gaslight Grill, Battersea

Type of Bar: Bar/Restaurant, Quirky
Damage£ – ££
Ideal for: Food, Sundays, Gin, Live Music

 

Now here is a long-time favourite.

A hungover Sunday’s solution is always in the Angel’s arms. Even if it means travelling an hour from Greenwich and cowering in the corner till that spectacular Sunday roast comes around.

Sorry, I think I drooled on the keyboard.

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Trying to pin the Lost Angel’s design is a bit difficult. Its jazzy, Victorian, 60’s randomness, upscale pub vibe somehow *works*. It lends to a really comfortable, relaxed atmosphere with live music in the day time; to a raucous party in the evenings – both indoors and in the large garden in the back. It’s that laid back attitude that makes it one of my favourite Sunday spots.

But it’s not just that, the LA hosts several events, from various DJ nights, extended happy hours throughout the week, and Gin Soaked Thursdays – where you can explore the LA’s reputation as a gin palace with a choice of its 30 different gins at 6 pounds each.

 

Drinks wise, the menu is varied, but tends towards the sweeter on many occasions – but there are still drier, intense cocktails to choose from. Classics can always be requested.

Without argument, their Bloody Mary game is on point. And they dish them out faster than you could believe. The Bottomless Bloody Mary Sundays get you as many as you like for only 15 pounds, and to that deal you can add a Sunday roast for 10. I normally go straight for the Spice Route Gimlet, Opihr Oriental Spiced Gin’s playfulness blends wonderfully with cardamom and lime cordial, and a star anise garnish. A strong gimlet with a spicy Eastern twist, don’t let the lime cordial-instead-of-juice fool you, this drink still packs a punch.

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Cucumber, Jalapeno & Coriander Margarita
…does exactly what it says on the tin. Lively, spry, spicy as all hell, this drink is perfect for the afternoon. Another bar could take a lesson here on how to salt a rim; you’re not supposed to make the drinker cringe. The Marrakesh Martini, saffron infused Beefeater gin, apricot liqueur, orange bitters, spiced sugar, ginger and lime juice has great potential, but often is drowned out by the apricot liqueur. A good idea is to let the bartender know to turn that down a bit.

The Strawberry Amaretto Sour makes an excellent dessert drink with fresh strawberries and egg white, as well as the Lost Skipper with dark rum, Chambord, blackberry jam and red wine.

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The admirable aspect to the LA’s cocktail list is how straightforward they are, often twists on the classics, they do exactly what they say will – which makes the Lost Angel a great introduction to cocktails.

This is where the Lost Angel’s charm lies: It’s laid-back, and out there to make a fun drink, without overcomplicating things, and without pretension. It is a reminder that complex reductions and vaporisers aren’t necessary to earn high points, neither is unwavering devotion to the classics – simplicity can be the key to a welcoming venue on a harsh Sunday morning.

Seriously though, that roast.

PS: Please update the website’s cocktail menu! People be missing the Jalapeno Margarita!

Drinks: **** (Especially deserving on discounted hours)
Atmosphere: ****
Service: ***

The Lost Angel & Gaslight Grill

339 Battersea Park Road,
London SW11 4LS

http://www.lostangel.co.uk