The Gibson, Clerkenwell

Type of Bar: Tiny, Experimental
Damage: ££ – £££
Ideal for: DateAfter Work

After being open for a while, The Gibson, known for it’s complex and imaginative menu highlighted by the simple classic that is its namesake, went for a small menu rehaul.

The new cocktails are similarly complex, boasting nearly a dozen ingredients at some points, taking risks with flavour profiles.

A first glance at the menu did make the Hoodooist a bit cautious, I am bit of a traditionalist with warning that drinks going past 5 ingredients were at risk for getting lost, but that won’t stop me from trying out new cocktails.

A tiny, intimate venue, with dim light and close range seating, the Gibson has gone for a powerfully apothecary atmosphere, reflecting its equally strange and varied menu, including everything from oregano flowers to the infusion of forest bees.

whisky cocktail the gibson bar london

The Garden of the Sun King

Beginning with a cocktail very much up the Hoodooist’s street, the Garden of the Sun King mixes Ailsa Bay whisky, infusion of forest bees, 3 La Quintinye Royal vermouths, lemon balm and leaf extract aged aquavit, maple ice wine tea and white port tincture, garnished with floregano, roasted pepper jacket and black olive.

Get the gist? Yeah.

The nose is undoubtedly full of red pepper, smokey and almost beefy. First sip is full of the tarry, smokey, liquorice of Ailsa Bay, followed by a light honey from the bee infusion. A lightness follows, from the lemon balm, then the white port. If you choose to dunk the red pepper in, a spice trails at the end. You want to finish this drink quickly – over time the sweetness begins to dominate the bottom half of the drink

whiskey cocktail the gibson bar london

Beyond the Pines

Next up, the Beyond the Pines. Loving pine flavours, this had to be tried. Monkey Shoulder whiskey and pine resin infusion, mixed with Kamm & Sons ginseng liqueur, lemon, ‘pine-apple’, elderflower juice, smoked juniper and rosemary honey, hot gooseberry chutney, ginger beer, wasabi, and matcha.

Thanks to the pine and flaming pinecone garnish, the nose is powerfully forest-y. In the best way. Palate starts with pine, smoked rosemary and juniper. There is a light effervescence to it, immediately followed by ginger and matcha, with a length of wasabi.

This was easily my favourite drink of the evening. Distinguishable flavours, cool and refreshing.

genever cocktail the gibson bar london

Winter in Neverland

Finally, the Winter in Wonderland was a great example as to why a dozen ingredients can be majorly problematic.

Cacao shell soaked Bols Genever, Mulled spiced cordial vintage cider, apple and pear conserve, lemon, 7 y.o. mandarin bitter, white snow waffle topped with raspberry and chocolate, cedarwood ice.

A cold drink the nose was spiced and citrus-y. But the drink was orange throughout, with the variety of flavours drowned out.

The stroopwaffel was ace, though.

cocktail the gibson bar london

Angel Tears

There is a food menu, with an exquisite beef tartare – love. Service is fab, however preparing these complex cocktails takes a while, so do be prepared. On the note of fab service, it has to be, as I found myself asking for flavour profiles being far more useful than reading the variety of ingredients. This can be difficult when working with a menu that is one of the longest I’ve seen in recent history.

The Gibson is a great bar for those who want to take risks and have the money to spend, there are certainly some gems like the Beyond the Pines here. I know I had a good night – but you do have to take risks and keep what you get. With the great staff, you shouldn’t have too much of a problem getting the flavour profiles down and chatting about what you enjoy.

And push comes to shove, order the Gibson Martini.

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

The Gibson

44 Old St,
London EC1V 9AQ.

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The Cocktail Trading Company, Smithfield

Type of Bar: Tiny, Basement, Quirky
Damage: ££
Ideal for: Date, After Work

 

The boys from CTC, Soho have done it again!

The Cocktail Trading Company Development Bar & Table (can we just call it CTC? Cool, okay), now a bustling hotspot in the heart of Soho, has branched out into cocktail-starved Smithfield, under the popular Ask For Janice on Long Lane.

CRNRkDlWIAEBJtF

The basement is tiny, if you’re lucky you might bag a couch (book in advance!) – and I recommend you find a good seat, because time can fly here! (Very) Dim-lit and cosy with a strongly Twin-Peaks-cabin-vibe, the playlist really makes the venue. Well, that and the incredible drinks and service provided by the Olly/Andy/Elliot trinity.

It’s probably worth mentioning that with 7 cocktail awards between them, it is difficult to go wrong with a good old classic here. About half the menu is classics, but the team will happily go off menu if you ask.

Cocktail Trading Company London Smithfield

The Brasso

The menu here will be the same as the CTC in Soho, so the Hoodooist decided to go for some uncharacteristically longer cocktails.

Beginning with the Brasso: Stoli Vodka, ginger and orange brew, lime juice and soda, is a light, bright, spicy long drink served with chocolate wafer and candied ginger. Perhaps spicy isn’t the right word, but spiced – the ginger doesn’t have a strong kick, but a fun pep in its step. Simplicity does well for this cocktail.

Cocktail Trading Company London Smithfield

The Daisy De Santiago

The Daisy De Santiago really exhibits the characteristics of Bacardi Heritage, with Lemon n Lime sherbet and Green Chartreuse. The tropical fruit and pepperiness cut through the cocktail quite easily, but immediately followed by a bombardment of citrus and the bitter herbal Green Chartreuse. It’s certainly a speciality cocktail with its intense sour and bitter flavours. Something very nostalgic here, something about 90s candy.

Cocktail Trading Company London Smithfield

The Sherry Cobbler

Twisting an old classic, the Sherry Cobbler adds spiced syrup to the mix of sherry/sugar/citrus, and garnishes with berries. The spiced syrup gives us warm winter spices, adding dimension to the otherwise primarily sweet and well-known classic. If you want to turn the sugariness up to 11, you can always go for the much more desserty Chocolate Flip #1, bringing together Bacardi 8 yr rum, cacao-infused Chartreuse, Tawny Port and pistachio ice cream. With a deeper, darker cacao flavour, this is an adult’s dessert cocktail, with the rum’s winter spice and lush mouthfeel, and the bitter hits of the Chartreuse over pistachio ice cream for that smoothness.

Cocktail Trading Company London Smithfield

The Chocolate Flip #1

With a very similar design, set up and cocktail list as it’s Soho sister, CTC Smithfield also keeps that distinctive attention to service that we loved about its predecessor. A welcome venue in the Smithfield area, and nice change from the after work boozers. I’d expect booking will be necessary.

 

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

 

The Cocktail Trading Company

Basement @ Ask for Janice, 50-52 Long Lane,
London, EC1A 9EJ.

http://www.thecocktailtradingco.co.uk/

 

 

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/

Bourne & Hollingsworth Bar, Fitzrovia

Type of Bar: Basement, Speakeasy, Quirky, Vintage, Tiny
Damage££
Ideal for: After Work, Nightcap, Small Groups, Date

When the B&H Bar opened a few years ago, a marked a then-change in cocktail culture and turned the tide toward a fascination with speakeasies, gin, and vintage-England. It was a tastemaker, and has developed into a brand name with its sister bars (Reverend JW Simpson: Click HERE for Review!, and the B&H Buildings, Review HERE!) and its vintage and chap themed events from the Blitz Party to Belle Epoque.

Bourne Hollingsworth London Cocktails

And for those years, this tiny, one-square-granny’s-living-room (complete with a distinct odour of damp) was a spot the Hoodooist would pop by for a last drink before heading home when in the area.

However, the new menu has taken a Spring turn in not *quite* the best direction. Said direction has been the elimination of many of the drinks that stood out, and resulting homogenisation of flavours and ingredients – the new menu now boasts a numerous (easily 25 or more) cocktails, that seem to blend into each other instead of standing with independent personalities, and taste too similar to each other (whereas Rev JW Simpson did the opposite and developed a greater variety of flavours than before, the B&H Buildings provide a greater variety as well).

The new menu has a tendency towards being incredibly sweet (so perfect if you enjoy sweet!), and an overbearing of berries and gin – so for the evening we tried our best to go for those that stood out.

Bourne Hollingsworth London Cocktails

L-R: The Madame Elisa’s Breakfast; The Honey Berry Bison

The then Cherry Sidecar has reverted to a slightly more classic Sidecar (Cognac, with marmalade instead of triple sec) in the Madame Elisa’s Breakfast – a drink that stood about a bit further from the others of the evening with the tartness of the marmalade – probably the most enjoyed of the evening in its simplicity.

The Honey Berry Bison goes for Zubrowka vodka and berries, shaken with lemon juice, acacia honey and egg white. Berries range from rasp- to black- and the cocktail itself has a distinctly cinnamon flavour after the first few sips – but it doesn’t take away from the intense sweet berries of the cocktail.

Tequila finally takes the stage in the Plum Plume: Reposado tequila shaken with lime juice, plum wine and bitters, topped with lemonade – but comes off without much flavour outside the plum wine and lemonade’s sweetness. But at least that went down better than the Black Jack – Bourbon with spiced honey whisky liqueur, seasonal fruits, mint infused sugar and lemon that was entirely too much to drink when it tastes like an iced glassful of watered down Jack Daniel’s Honey and berries.

Bourne Hollingsworth London Cocktails

Service is good, even on days when the room is crowded, you can trust that someone will be served. Often, there are free tables (especially weekdays) to walk-in, but for Saturday nights, a booking is recommended. Normally quite chilled out and relaxed, event nights can get very crowded – so do check in advance.

With other great bars like Rev JW and B&H Buildings in their roster, it won’t take long for a banging new menu to be on the cards, but for now, this spring/summer might have to wait.

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

 

Bourne & Hollingsworth

Rathbone Place,
London W1T 1JF

http://www.bourneandhollingsworth.com/bournes/

The Cocktail Trading Company, Soho

Type of Bar: Tiny, Basement, Quirky
Damage££
Ideal for: Date

 

The Cocktail Trading Company Development Bar & Table (can we just call it CTC? Cool, okay) has been one of the most long-awaited openings in the cocktail world of 2015 after generating buzz for months now. And probably what the brasserie upstairs, Central & Co, needed to up its cocktail game.

The basement is tiny, if you’re lucky you might bag a couch (book in advance!) – and I recommend you find a good seat, because time can fly here! Dim-lit and cosy, the 80s playlist really makes the venue. Well, that and the incredible drinks and service provided by the Olly/Andy/Elliot trinity.

CTC

It’s probably worth mentioning that with 7 cocktail awards between them, it is difficult to go wrong with a good old classic here. About half the menu is classics, but the team will happily go off menu if you ask, as they did for a spectacularly constructed Campari-heavy Negroni Sbagliato (Vermouth, Campari, Prosecco).

But let’s move on to the house cocktails!

 

For Whom The Bell Bols

For Whom The Bell Bols

Star of the night would easily be the For Whom the Bell Bols (oh yes, puns, go with it. And yes, it *is indeed* served in a bell): Lavender and Chamomile infused Bols Genever, Golden Syrup 1:1, lemon juice and egg white, topped with a shortbread. Firstly, shortbread with the egg white and Golden Syrup is amazing. Secondly, so wonderful to see more of Bols Genever, sadly not used in the London scene as much as it could be. The malty texture of the Bols suits the combo of flavours so wonderfully, with the lavender and chamomile sweeping up the drinker initially, followed by the brighter pine flavour of the Bols and hints of its signature smoky spiciness – though that spiciness is rendered more subtle with the addition of the Golden Syrup. An incredible drink, a sweeter flavour for those who don’t do sweet.

 

Urn-Aged Corpse Reviver No.2

Urn-Aged Corpse Reviver No.2

The Urn-Aged Corpse Reviver No.2, is an intriguing one. ‘Egyptian Embalming Gin’, fortified honey wine, mandarin liqueur, lemon juice and absinthe. The Egyptian Embalming gin was certainly intriguing, keeping with the ‘corpse’ theme, the team wanted to bring out the gin botanicals commonly found in Egyptian embalming fluid. And honey wine similarly in theme. The most powerful flavour yet is the mandarin, with the gins spicier and more herbal botanicals following, the sweetness of the honey wine throughout. Managing to remain citrusy without becoming too sweet, and avoiding the overdose of absinthe that many Corpse Reviver No.2s suffer, this is a wonderful take on a classic. Not to mention the wonderful presentation!

 

Welcome to Kentucky, Have a Nice Day!

Welcome to Kentucky, Have a Nice Day!

However, the Welcome to Kentucky, Have a Nice Day: Jim Beam, ginger and plum infusion, Yuzu juice, matcha tea, was a confusing one. Between us, it felt like a bit too much happening at the same time. The Jim Beam comes through quite clearly. After a couple of sips you begin to notice the underlying thick sweetness of the matcha, the ginger and a very light citrus of the yuzu, and maybe it is a matter of personal taste, but it felt like too much at once. (Although, do call the number on the menu under this drink.)

#FESTIVALCHIC

#FESTIVALCHIC

Finally, the #FESTIVALCHIC is presented the most strangely – in a welly. This is a great example of the wonderful service expected at CTC. The concoction: Wray & Nephew rum, Cinzano Bianco, lychee liqueur, cranberry, lemon juice, is certainly not the Hoodooist’s style, turning out to be far sweeter than he would normally drink. The lychee and cranberry stand out the most, the rum and vermouth downplayed slightly. But while chatting over it, the team offered to add in lemon juice, Campari and salt to actually make a fantastic, well balanced apertivo that I’d recommend.

So though the #FESTIVALCHIC is a naturally sugary drink for the sweet tooth, I highly appreciate the team for going out of their way to balance it further.

 

Really, aside from the wonderful music and quirky drinks, the service (as I’ve stressed before, being the most important aspect of a bar) is what makes the Cocktail Trading Co a definite visit when in the area. Highly recommended, a drink like For Whom the Bell Bols is not to be missed.

 

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

 

The Cocktail Trading Company

Basement @ Central and Co., 22 Great Marlborough St.,
London, W1F 7HU.

http://www.thecocktailtradingco.co.uk/

The Malt Whisky Library; & Elgin Lounge Bar, Bloomsbury

Yeah, that’s two hotel bars, in two hotels at once.

And though this isn’t strange really, the reason for it is so… So. Bizarre.

Alright, this was supposed to be one single review of the Malt Whisky Library bar of the Grange Blooms Hotel which has gathered a bit of attention after winning one of the “Top 10 London Library Bars” in Unnamed Popular Online Magazine (I had not heard of this bar before, which was strange, but probably explains my experience there). But circumstances which will be explained have made it a double review situation.

 

With the intention of getting some research done, the Hoodooist gathered his books to get to a library bar – regular libraries are too tedious, and a bit of whisky never hurt to study with, so the Malt Whisky Library sounded like a good idea to check out. Once I got there though, an employee ‘escorted’ (read: dragged) me out of the bar, out of the Grange Blooms Hotel, to the bar in their sister hotel next door, the Elgin Lounge at the Grange White Hall Hotel.

Though it was literally next door, I hadn’t shown up to review the Elgin. The response I received was “Well, you were the only person there, no one really comes there, so we thought we’d move you here.”

Well, that’s interesting, for a winning library bar.

Overhearing our conversation, a Fellow Who Seemed In Charge said he would check to see what happened and would get back to me in a moment.

In that time I grabbed a single Hennessy VS (they didn’t have Courvoisier. THEY DIDN’T HAVE COURVOISIER.), and had a quick look at the Grange White Hall’s Elgin Lounge Bar:

Type of Bar: Hotel, Tiny
Damage£
Ideal for: Feeling awkward

Save the tidy hardwood bar and the sketches of ancient Greek wine krater, the furniture of the Elgin is rather repulsive. The choice of spirits is minimal, and entirely from an off-license – not saying it’s impossible to get a decent spirit at one, but the limited spirit count was disappointing. And other than Fellow In Charge, employees were not fluent in English, which made conversation a bit complicated. Not to mention, people seemed adamant to not allow me into the Malt Whisky Library like some kind of unfinished Kafka novella.

Drinks: *
Atmosphere: *
Service: *

Fellow In Charge returns, after a bit of protest, and introduces himself as Jacek, the only person who seems to care at all about the customer. He still attempted to dissuade me from going to Malt Whisky Library by explaining the choice of spirits wasn’t much better. Either way, politeness and a slightly unsettling smile can get you far in life and I found myself at the Malt Whisky Library at the Grange Blooms Hotel again.

Type of Bar: Hotel, Tiny, Library
Damage£
Ideal for: Neat spirits, Whisky, feeling kinda vindicated.

Libbar
Okay, this isn’t a library. It’s a room with a single bookshelf. As for the Whisky Library, there wasn’t much. Most are over the off-license counter, with only a few that stood out.

I was told that the place ‘had not been used in a while’. That it was ‘under renovation some time back’ (there was no sign of renovation). And that ‘it is only used for events’. Amounting to about 6 or 7 reasons nobody wanted visitors to this strange little space.

Said shelf.

Said shelf.

Jacek, though the only individual here who seemed to want to satisfy a customer, makes an odd remark about his wife calling him since he ‘should’ve finished work an hour ago’. If that was a remark about me slowing him down, well, where are the other employees to take his place? The place is utterly vacant.

My first choice of 26 year whisky had pieces of cork in the spirit, so was kept aside. My second choice’s cork broke off when attempting to open it. So we settled for a single grain Highland Invergordon. Again, not a special whisky, but a decent one nonetheless, especially considering a double amounted to about 4 pounds.

Having gotten my whisky and armchair, and the quiet space, I grab my book and get to work. And then the screaming started. Employees in the kitchen (there is only a door between them and myself) launch into an argument. They must really be used to being alone down here. The swearing turns out to be a bit hilarious, but I actually do get some work done.

The argument ends as one of the participants stomps out and catches sight of me, and freezes in disbelief. It’s like no one in this building had seen humans before. Remember ‘The Others’? Yeah.

The Hoodooist pays. He leaves.
He asks no questions.

UPDATE: A quick Google shows that the Grange Blooms is supposedly haunted.

Whether or not this is associated with the above is beyond me.

Drinks: *
Atmosphere: ***
Service: Does funny background swearing count?

 

The Elgin Lounge

2-5 Montague Street,
London, WC1B 5BU

http://www.grangehotels.com/hotels-london/grange-white-hall/bars-restaurants/elgin-lounge-bar/
The Malt Whisky Library

7 Montague Street,
London, WC1B 5BP

http://www.grangehotels.com/hotels-london/grange-blooms/bars-restaurants/

Sovereign Loss, Brixton

Type of Bar: Vintage, Tiny, Late Night, Speakeasy
Damage: ££
Ideal for: Date, Small Groups, Nightcap

The launch of Sovereign Loss in Brixton this week marks Brixton Road/Coldharbour Lane as a major cocktail hub in the South now, joining stars like the Shrub and Shutter and Three Eight Four (Click HERE for review!). With the brand ambassadors of Aperol and Whitley Neill Gin running the show, Sovereign Loss is bound to be a South London star. As a major fan of Chris Dennis (of Trailer Happiness fame), having him behind the bar means this was a launch the Hoodooist would certainly not miss.

Pressing the buzzer at the Trade Entrance door just beside the Prince of Wales, one climbs up the stairs, past a smoking terrace, to a candlelit, intimate space that could be best described as Cuban Art Deco. Initially quite relaxed, the lights get darker and music louder as the night goes on – and on it goes – with the 24 hour license, the weekend sees the bar open till 5AM, on Sundays till last man standing! But not being a club, this exactly where the Hoodooist wants to find himself instead of some riotous oonce-oonce shindig at 3AM – just chilling with an El Presidente.

Sovereign Loss Negroni

The cocktail list is short, but impressive, and matching the Art Deco surrounds, with a good balance between short and long drinks (but rather heavy on the orange). Let’s begin with the most impressive.

The Canopy, now this was a surprise. The Hoodooist so rarely enjoys a long drink, but heavens, this is incredible. And so simple! Whitley Neill gin, orange sherbert, Curacao, lemon and soda. Being a smooth, subtle gin, Whitley Neill is excellent with its citrus for a cocktail like the Canopy. It beings with a burst of the orange sherbert, such an excellent flavour, moving to a short expression of the gin, and settling on the Curacao. A bit on the sweet side, but well balanced with tartness. A wonderful drink to begin with. But, enjoy it quickly, it dilutes easily.

The Presidente is a fairly classic El Presidente with Santa Teresa Reserva rum, Cinzano dry vermouth, Curacao and pomegranate. I adore this rum for the Presidente, fruits and caramel, followed by winter spices and oak. The Cinzano’s dryness does not overpower this wonderful rum and neither does the pomegranate. Easily one of the best short drinks on this menu.

The Metropole was a very surprising drink: Courvoisier Exclusif, sweet vermouth, Dubonnet, Peychaud’s and Orange bitters. The initial flavour is intensely chocolate, with strains of the CV Exclusif’s Borderies Cru fruit lines simmering in. Halfway through, the other ingredients begin to shine, the vermouths open up to the palate, followed by the orange bitters in the background. A very intriguing, but heavy drink.

The Metropole

The Metropole

The next two drinks have incredible potential, but are a bit imbalanced to intense sweetness.

The traditional, classic New Corpse Reviver: Louis Royer VS Pommeau (which I am deducing would be Louis Royer VS Cognac, apple must, with apple brandy) and sweet vermouth follows Craddock’s recipe in the 1930’s Savoy Handbook, going to show that not all classic recipes are intensely dry or bitter. This have a very heavy mouthfeel, and is intensely sweet. If you are looking for a dessert drink, this would be a good one.

As we said with the Pisco Embassy last week (Click HERE for review), Pisco once again proves to be a difficult ingredient to use in cocktails. The Apiscopalian brings Pisco Porton, Aperol and peach to the table. In order to balance the sweetness of the peach with the Aperol and strong Pisco, the drink swings to the opposite end of the spectrum with a thick, syrupy texture making it difficult to drink. The intense sweetness, if you aren’t a fan of it, can make it rather sickly. Not a fan of this drink, but at our table of four, one did enjoy it for the first half of the glass.

Finally, the unfortunate Journalist, taken out of the Savoy Handbook again, Beefeater gin, Curacao, sweet and dry vermouth, citrus, bitters, was not only too overbearing with the orange and citrus throughout, but when made, was overdone with the orange peel spray, resulting in being too oily.

The Apiscopalian

The Apiscopalian

Serivce-wise, with Joe and Chris, it is impossible to have anything negative with the service, whereas kinks regarding table-service are being ironed out once it gets crowded. Regarding cocktails, the Presidente, Canopy and Metropole stood out as winners, with the New Corpse Reviver running up. Though orange pervades the menu, it is not tiresome, thankfully. And though the Journalist and Apiscopalian do not quite work, you can tell by the recipe.

A fantastic bartender, a great design, and an incredible 24 hour license make Sovereign Loss a perfect late night spot when partying in the area. Hoodooist Recommended!

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

 

Sovereign Loss,

469 Brixton Road,
London SW9 8HH

http://www.sovereignloss.com