Drink Shop & Do, King’s Cross St. Pancras

Type of Bar: Creative, Party, 90s, Quirky
Damage££
Ideal for: Afternoon Tea, Activities, Small Groups

 

Celebrating it’s 5th birthday, young entrepreneurs Kristie Bishop and Coralie Sleap have turned fun into a business venture – providing customers with everything from a quirky store to afternoon tea with cocktails and Lego and nipple-tassel craft classes, to a 90s themed basement club accompanied by classes to learn Beyonce dance moves (which let’s not pretend you haven’t practised at home already).

The site of the ex-Turkish-bathhouse, with its massive skylight and overhead discoball, houses two large bars (one above, one below) – serving up primarily spritzes and punches, has a primarily sweet menu. There is the occasional Negroni, though, so don’t panic yet!

Drink Shop Do Cocktails Tea London

The 5th Birthday party begins with a series of easy-serve drinks and bites – whilst building Lego robots, the Sun-blushed tomato, tapenade and sweet herb sandwich is competed with only by the Smoked salmon, cream cheese and chrain – and the dessert even better. Hazelnut chocolate brownie dense and flavourful.

Drink Shop Do Cocktails Tea London

The drinks were a hit or miss: the Duppy Rum Punch serves up Duppy Share Rum, fresh lime juice and gomme (which may have not been entirely necessary with the sweetness of the rum). It really relies on the inherent richness of the blended rum, and it’s powerful pineapple, mango and papaya flavours are tempered by the lemon.

The Happy was a bit of a stumble though, Evan Williams Bourbon meets elderflower and apple to make a confused intense hit of sour to the back of the jaw, followed by sticky, painful sweetness.

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The Birthday was a major improvement: Belvedere Vodka, lychee, lemongrass, ginger, chilli and soda. A mix of savoury chilli kick followed by a length of sweet lychee.

Downstairs, the Wild Spritz: Elderflower, Perry and gin was thick, and tasted more like a glassful of sugar syrup.

Drink Shop Do Cocktails Tea London

Though the myriad of events and the food do outweigh the skill regarding cocktails, I can see myself returning for an afternoon tea with a friend, but not quite for the drinks. The lengthy list of sweet drinks is almost patronising, and could do with either increased variety, or with catching up with 2015, the apple, elderflower and lychee combos are rather old hat and very SW postcode Chelsea (which, let’s face it, is the last to join the party at anything).

There are some fantastic spirits behind the bar I’d love to see used more often – like a great collection of mezcals that are not on the cocktail menu. Take the Birthday, for example: Replace the lychee with hibiscus, and the vodka with mezcal, for a more modern and mature cocktail.

Drink Shop Do Cocktails Tea London

The staff are wonderful – upbeat, polite and conversational, and most of all – fun. And the obvious passion they display for their work is palpable, and is contagious. From the events upstairs to the parties below, they keep the crowd alive and excited for their work. 

Drink Shop & Do is a beautiful space, run by brilliant creatives, and a wonderful place to learn new skills, or just let loose. To another 5 years of DSD!

 

Drinks: * (I recommend coming for the tea and food, though!)
Atmosphere: ****
Service: ****

 

Drink, Shop & Do

9 Caledonian Rd, King’s Cross,
London N1 9DX.

http://www.drinkshopdo.com/

The Tea Den @ Opium, Chinatown

Type of Bar: Pop UpBar/Restaurant, Chinese, Speakeasy, Lounge
Damage££
Ideal for: TeaFood, DateSmall Groups

Okay. Seriously. Forget what else is happening on Afternoon Tea Week 2015 (10th-16th August) – your butts should be at Opium Chinatown.

 

We’ve reviewed Opium Chinatown before (Click HERE for Review!), but this week they will be working alongside The London Tea Club, and lifestyle brand, Oblique.

The London Tea Club, spread across Europe and North America, supply members with teas every month matching their flavour profile – perfect for the tea buff – have supplied Opium with a share of some of their most popular teas to construct a spectacular tea-infused cocktail list for Afternoon Tea Week (though the Hoodooist says that they should be permanent cocktails on the Opium menu).

 

Tucked away in the deep red corridors of Opium, beyond the Jade Door on Gerrard Street, find yourself present with 5 magical cocktails, named after the tea used in the concoction:

 

Opium Chinatown Afternoon Tea Week Den Dim Sum Cocktail

The Antique Rose

A major hit of the night (with one friend drinking three of them exclusively), the Antique Rose: Absolut Elyx vodka infused with Antique Rose tea, with Cocchi Americano Rosa and orange oil.

A beautiful, beautiful twist on the vodka Martini, the nose is alluring and primarily the Rosa’s berries and florals (lavender?), with hints of bitter chinchona. By palate, the sweeter tea with powerful rose notes adds life to the Elyx, the strong tea and rose eruption is followed by enveloping raspberry, strawberry and vanilla – ending on a castanet kick of quinine, cloves, a hint of ginger and orange zest.

Sophisticated, aromatic, seductive. A winner.

 

Opium Chinatown Afternoon Tea Week Den Dim Sum Cocktail

The Lapsang Souchong

If you want to go for something a little less Carmen, and a bit more Cosette, then the Lapsang Souchong might be for you: Buffalo Trace bourbon, apricot liqueur, tea-smoked cherries.

The normally deep, smokey tea is mellowed here, in a cocktail that appears to be more similar to a whiskey sour than you’d imagine. A very good one, nonetheless. Shy, fruit laden, the cocktail begins with the apricot, followed by the Buffalo Trace’s oaky, toffee, brown sugar flavours, leading toward the slightly more tart cherry and ending on a soft bed of lapsang souchong smoke.

A bit sweet, bit fruity, longer and easy to relish for the whiskey sour fan.

 

Opium Chinatown Afternoon Tea Week Den Dim Sum Cocktail

The White Peony

Now the White Peony, this one is always just out of reach, so well-composed, so independent, with footfalls of tiny bells: Double strength White Peony tea, Herradura Plata tequila, Belsazar White vermouth, house falernum.

The nose is strongly of the white peony, but underneath there is a lingering layer of agave. The first flavour belongs to the Herradura, soft, oaky, bright agave notes – but give away almost immediately to the tea, and below flowers the very restrained Belsazar and falernum with spicier, fruitier flavours. This cocktail, though loaded with various flavours, always feels so restrained and in control – it is delicate and patience is needed to fully appreciate it.

In short: It’s a bloody success.

 

Opium Chinatown Afternoon Tea Week Den Dim Sum Cocktail

The Goji Berry & Chrysanthemum

In contrast, the Goji Berry & Chrysanthemum is far louder: The teas infused in Absolut vodka and a splash of pink grapefruit juice makes a strongly juicy and brightly fruity cocktail. It might lack the White Peony’s complexity, but is a great middle-drink when wandering through the menu to lighten the spirits between the hardhitters. It might not be the Hoodooist’s style, but is an admirable cocktail, nonetheless, well crafted.

The pink grapefruit juice and vodka are the first to hit you, followed by the flowering flavours of Goji berry, and finishing on the floral chrysanthemum.

 

Opium Chinatown Afternoon Tea Week Den Dim Sum Cocktail

The Iron Goddess of Mercy

Finally, the Iron Goddess of Mercy. More commonly known as Tie Guan Yin (or even TGY), the dramatic name comes from various legends that have the same result: the Goddess of Mercy, Guan Yin, has provided a patient listener with a treasure in the form of an Oolong tea whose popularity spread across the country. Rich, and sweet, using it in a nectar-like syrup for a classic Rum Daiquiri was a fantastic choice.

Refreshing, bright, but not lacking in depth, this cocktail (in all its simplicity) is a breath of fresh air, and a fantastic finisher to the menu. Sweet, uplifting, with hints of herb and spice in the distance (as should be customary of a well-made Daiquiri). Wonderful.

Opium Cocktail Dimsum Parlour Chinatown

 

Honestly, recently the Hoodooist has been looking for cocktails that would ‘wow’ him again, and the Tea Den did just that. Having a sip of the teas before their respective cocktails is a great idea to appreciate the brews themselves, as well as identify their place in the cocktails. I also love that the menu is set out in an excellent order, I’d recommend working your way in the same order, as the cocktails flow and contrast wonderfully that way. Manager Bruce Govia has done a remarkable job with working with the London Tea Club here, and service is light, conversational, speedy and approachable.

 

I guess what I’m saying is: You cannot miss this.

 

Drinks: *****

 

The Tea Den @ Opium, Chinatown

15-16 Gerrard St,
London W1D 6JA

http://www.opiumchinatown.com/