Down a flight of stairs into what first seemed like complete darkness, as my eyes adjusted to the light I was able to discern an inviting space with dark wood paneling and deep leather banquettes.
About a year ago, after a long flight from San Diego to London, I dropped off my things at the Zetter Hotel and had just enough time to enjoy a restorative meal at neighboring restaurant St. John before meeting a couple of cocktailians friends. I suggested starting our cocktail adventures at the American Bar at the Savoy Hotel. Going to the Savoy felt surreal in many ways. I had read so much about it, and of course when you are there you cannot help but think about all of the history. I had followed with great interest the events around the 50th anniversary of Harry Craddock‘s death that had been chronicled by Erik Ellestad on his blog. Being able to finally go there was a little overwhelming.
White Lyan is a bar that Ryan Chetiyawardana (formerly of Worship Street Whistling Shop, Purl, 69 Colebrook Row, Bramble) and Iain Griffiths (Bramble, Eau de Vie) opened in September 2013 in Hoxton (East London), in a space that used to house the White Horse pub. It received a lot of buzz because of its general concept, which is always described by what it does not have – ice, perishables, shakers, brands, off-menu cocktails, etc.
That sounded forced and a bit gimmicky, pretentious even; a bar that was essentially putting into question the principles that we have seen used successfully time after time: ice programs, fresh citrus, shaking techniques, impressive back bars, bartender’s choice, etc. But after seeing the bar pick up the top award for Best New International Bar at Tales of the Cocktail this year, I knew I wanted to check it out.
Tucked within the beautiful Town Hall Hotel in Bethnal Green, Peg + Patriot is a cosy bar that was opened just a few months ago by Matt Whiley of the Talented Mr Fox and his team, Ally Martin and James Stevenson. It was pretty quiet on a Sunday night, with just a few barstools occupied. I took a spot at the bar and studied the clipboard-bound menu. Is it me, or are a lot of London bars hopelessly obsessed with clever puns? Continue reading
Cocktails with orange juice are evil, I’ve always been convinced. No matter how hard I try, I cannot find too many good things to say about The Bronx or the Blood and Sand. Even PDT could not get the Monkey Gland right. All these cocktails seem to compensate for their inadequacy with catchy names. Continue reading
After a great dinner at the Corner Room in Bethnal Green, I decided to check out nearby bar Satan’s Whiskers which had just opened a few months back. The bar, indicated by a red neon sign, had the expected decor of hipster cocktail lounges with a tasteful mix of brick, reclaimed items, light bulbs with visible filaments, a selection of taxidermied and accessorized animals, a unicorn skeleton, and an ironic old school hip hop soundtrack.