We don’t care if the temperature’s dipping, it gives us even more reasons to warm up with some wonderful drinks. This month we’ve been to a Masterclass at Milk & Honey, shaken up a storm at Shaker Bar School and sampled some mighty fine rums at the Rum Experience…
Excuse us while we have a lie-down, it’s been a pretty hectic month. Two days in and we were sipping a fine selection of cocktails at the opening of Eight Moorgate, a rather chi-chi member’s club in the heart of the City. Now here’s a place we could happily spend time charging up an expense account. There’s something about the sleek dark wood and subdued lighting that’s well suited to sealing the deal, both in business or potential romance. We particularly liked the spacious roof terrace – a beacon for smokers and fresh air freaks alike. In fact, we liked it so much, we went back a week later for dinner and cocktails.
Speaking of members clubs, one of the many joys of carrying a card to Milk & Honey is the invitation to its monthly Soho Cocktail Club First Tuesday sessions. We’re ashamed to say we’ve never made it to one of these informal gatherings before but this month we cleared a space in our hectic diaries to try out the range of gins in the Pernod Ricard portfolio. And there are quite a few. Regular Beefeater, Beefeater 24, Beefeater Crown Jewel, Plymouth, Plymouth Navy Strength and Plymouth Sloe Gin were all proffered, either given an efferevescent lease of life with tonic water or served with a kick a la a gin Mule. By the time Head Bartender David Hobbs moved on to the delicacies of a Martini, Ms S was glad she’d made dinner reservations at Aqua Nueva. (Note to selves: must go back to Aqua to sample the cocktails, we couldn’t quite manage after the generosity of the Milk & Honey crew.)
JuJu was next. Let’s just say our visit left us subtley shaken but not completely stirred. There are many things that could be tweaked, a few of the over-sweet drinks among them, however, the King’s Road set didn’t seem to mind. Our palates were more at home the next evening at the Lobby Bar at One Aldwych. Wonderful Roberto de Vivo showed off a few of the new drinks on the menu including a blinding Gin & Tonic Martini, while we caught up with a couple of friends at the launch of the fabulous jazz evenings now taking place in the gracious space every Saturday evening.
Back in the day, we spent many a decadent afternoon propping up the bar at The Zetter. We got to know the head barman Federico pretty well and Ms S developed quite a taste for his Passionfruit and Black Pepper Martini. We popped in for a swift one after lunch at The Modern Pantry and while it was missing some of the magic Fed mixed in with his drinks, it still made an agreeable spot to while away a Sunday afternoon.
A few days later Mr G went solo at a party for Olmeca Tezon, the only tequilia totally crafted using the 500 year-old Tahona process. Among the select guests was Cleo Rocas, erstwhile Kenny Everett playmate and now adding brand ambassador to her impressive credentials.
It’s funny how the same names keep cropping up. Like Douglas Ankrah’s. One minute we were talking about his adventures at the Opera Quarter, now he’s devised a rather tasty cocktail list at Missouri Angel, a smart, newly renovated bar/restaurant in the City. We were invited to the launch and worked our way through an edited version of the carefully devised menu. Naturally, his Porn Star Martini makes an appearance, along with a dozen or so very agreeable drinks including a Screaming Demon Martini and an Affectionate Squeeze. The food was pretty awesome, too.
Whether the Camden crowd go for The Blues Bar & Kitchen is a whole other story. It wants to be all soul food, bourbon and blues but to our minds, it was more concept than execution. Don’t get us wrong, the drinks were good enough, it’s just that it felt more of a theme pub than a blues bar that didn’t quite cut it with us. L’Anima was a completely different story… Talk about hot, this restaurant and bar bang in the centre of rather unglamorous Liverpool Street, is positively steaming. We loved the look, feel and ambience of the place but even better, the drinks were more than a match for the effortlessly elegant setting.
If you’ve followed our ramblings, you’ll know that we’re huge fans of both the drinks and the bar crew at the Fifth Floor Bar at Harvey Nichols. So it didn’t take much persuasion to get us along to check out the rejigged space, courtesy of design guru Shaun Clarkson. With it’s white leather seating, Swarovski crystal buttons and fuschia and lime accents, it’s become a much more appealing space – definitely what you’d expect from such a fashionable store. With the new look comes a new cocktail list and this one, with its Perrier-Jouet connections, is heavy on the bubbles. Very ab fab.
Maybe it’s the dip in temperature but rum seems to be rocking at the moment. Not that we’re complaining. Mr G checked out the finest brands from around the world at the Rum Experience while Ms S met up with Martin So, brand ambassador for Green Island rum to sample a few of the beauties in the portfolio, all hailing from Mauritius. Full Tasting Notes coming soon.
But the best fun of the month was at the Shaker Bar School in Shoreditch. The Introduction To Cocktails 1 Day Course is highly recommended for anyone who wants to learn how to make great drinks, either behind the bar or at home. During the five-hour session we added a few more essential bar skills to our repertoire while making (and drinking) an array of classics including a Tom Collins, Whisky Sour, Daiquiri, Margarita and Martini. If that sounds like a lot to drink in one afternoon, it was. One rather hefty punter who should have known better drank so much, he actually fell off his stool. And the moral of the story? Always drink responsibly folks.
The Blues Kitchen, 111 Camden High Street, NW1 7JN. T: 020-7387 5277. theblueskitchen.com
Eight Moorgate, 1 Dysart Street, EC2A 2BX. T: 0808 1801 858. eightclub.co.uk
Missouri Angel, 14 Crosswall, EC3N 2LJ. T: 020-7481 8422. missourigrill.com
The Zetter, St. John’s Square, 86-88 Clerkenwell Road, EC1M 5RJ. T: 020-7324 4444. thezetter.com
Words to the wise (or just plain curious)
“Humour is like liquor in ways both obvious and subtle. The good stuff is hard to come by, because difficult to fashion. It intoxicates, but also harrows; it allows truth to flow into places otherwise barricaded. Sometimes it’s champagne, sometimes whisky. And sometimes it’s a strong fizzy combo.”
‘Cocktail Culture’ by Mark Kingwell