Posts Tagged With: Good cocktails

Prost! Berlin Hustles Harder: Part One

Boy Mestizo’s food (and drink) adventures in Berlin

 

When people ask me how my recent trip to Berlin was, I recount the moment when my friend, having just had a digestive post-lunch nap in Kollwitzplatz, opened her bleary eyes, propped herself up on her elbows in the grass, looked up at the blazingly blue sky, and said thus:

“Mark, I want to live in Berlin now. It’s like London, but less insanely busy. Mark, can I live here now, please?? I can get a tech job, learn enough German to get by, have a dog… Mark, let’s all move to Berlin!”

One could therefore draw the conclusion that we may have had a good time out there (just).

Before we had gone, though, a friend of ours had mentioned that unless we loved house music, we’d hate Berlin; another had called it the Shoreditch of Germany, contrasting it against the Kensington & Chelsea of Germany (Munich, of course).

But what we were finding was that there was a lot of variety and a lot of different characters all across the city – from the smart and preppy Friedrichstadt to the leafy and wealthy calmness of Charlottenburg, to the grime and edginess of Friedrichshain, there was a lot going on everywhere. It was, as my travelling companion had very boldly stated, like a quieter and less hectic London.

The eclecticism was reflected in the food and drink we enjoyed whilst out there – although we stuck primarily to the German classics, the delivery and packaging made all the difference. So, let us begin with this non-comprehensive guide of good eats and fine drinks in Berlin.

 

Dom Curry

Gendarmenmarkt, 10117 Berlin

The first food to pass our lips in Berlin was, of course, that firm Berliner favourite: the currywurst.

Dom Curry: feeling a bit wurst for wear after our flight...!

Dom Curry: feeling a bit wurst for wear after our flight…!

Our choice of Dom Curry, a simple fast food stall in Gendarmenmarkt, was based purely on the fact that it was the nearest snack stall to our flat. However, it was a very serviceable purveyor, probably a bit different from the others in that they also offer a whole range of different mustards (with my banana mustard being pleasingly sweet) to go with their standard wurst and their Brandenburger speciality wursts. So far, so okay – but let us not forget to mention their fries, which were delightfully crunchy and textured, if perhaps a little over-salted.

Welcome to Gendarmenmarkt

Welcome to Gendarmenmarkt

However, the real clincher for your visit to Dom Curry would be the fact that you can enjoy your currywurst whilst sipping a beer and admiring the views of the beautiful French and German cathedrals that frame Gendarmenmarkt, one of the key highlights of Friedrichstadt.

 

Capital Beach Bar

Ludwig-Erhardt-Ufer, 10557 Berlin

Having been frustrated in our efforts to visit the Reichstag (not knowing that we needed to make a booking to visit the dome, silly us…), we decided to aimlessly stroll through the adjoining gardens towards the river. There, to our pleasant surprise, we found the Capital Beach – a pathway and embankment by the River Spree that had been jam-packed with bars, food stalls and deckchairs.

Beer, deckchairs and sunshine. Perfection

Beer, deckchairs and sunshine. Perfection

One of Berlin’s urban ‘beaches’, Capital Beach is open just for the summer, so as far as we were concerned our visit was very timely. It just so happened that it was Beer O’Clock as well, so of course we had to settle ourselves down on some of the deckchairs on the grassy bank sloping towards the river.

Prost!

Bottoms up!

Here I had my first taste of Schöfferhoffer hefeweizen, a Frankfurter wheat beer: crisp, fresh, ever-so-slightly citrusy; it was the perfect beer for a warm summer’s day.

It may not be much of a beach, but when you have deckchairs, sunshine and beer involved, you’ll feel exactly like you’re on the French Riviera (maybe). Catch it while you can – prost!

 

Friedrichs 106

Friedrichstraβe 106, 10117 Berlin, +49 30 40520594, http://www.friedrichs106.de/

Feeling rather cheery after our beers at the Capital Beach, we took a stroll along the River Spree, enjoying the cool evening sun and breeze and taking in the modern sights. We talked of life, we talked of love, we talked of the future – but as we passed more and more riverside eateries, with the smells of grilled meat wafting their ways towards us, our conversation eventually turned to food. Finding ourselves by the Friedrichstraβe bridge, we felt that Friedrichs 106 looked like a decent enough option for that night’s dinner.

Certainly not Alte Berlin

Certainly not Alte Berlin

It’s an attractive traditional Viennese restaurant perched right by the bridge, with nice views towards the northern end of Museuminsel. With deep booths, a long classical bar and some uniformed garçons et demoiselles, Friedrichs 106 offers up a taste of a proper continental bistro – not quite the Berlin we were led to believe existed.

Bendy. Sourced from Friedrichs 106 website!

Bendy. Sourced from Friedrichs 106 website!

Grabbing a table on the terrace, we warmed ourselves with a couple of glasses of German rotwein and watched the sun go down. It was a pleasant and genteel atmosphere, aided by our merry temperaments – but it most definitely helpful that the food was pretty good too.

Geschmortes Jungbullenbäckchen auf Sellerie-Salz-Karamell mit Bergkäseknödel und rotem Mangold... translate that!

Geschmortes Jungbullenbäckchen
auf Sellerie-Salz-Karamell mit Bergkäseknödel
und rotem Mangold… translate that!

My friend’s flammkuchen was crunchy and lavished with toppings, whilst my braised ox cheek was so tender and moist, and doused in an extremely savoury and rich celery-salt-caramel sauce, a surprisingly good combination. Coming with a soft and substantial Bergkäseknodel (mountain cheese dumpling) and a smattering of red chard, my ox cheek was a definite winner of a dinner. A delightful meal overall.

 

Blechbilderbar

Simon-Dach-Straβe 35, 10245 Berlin, +49 30 2913863

Transport yourself away from the pretty cobblestones of Friedrichstadt, all the way across the Spree, Museuminsel and Alte Berlin, and you find yourself in the graffiti-strewn pavements of Friedrichshain, where we must have counted nearly ten dreadlocked men and women playing either guitars or accordions by actual barrel fires.

“What’s happening here?”

“This… this is counterculture in action”

We were here to meet my old friend for a drink, and had been directed to Blechbilderbar on Simon-Dach-Straβe. Having been previously told by her that this was one of the places to go out in Berlin, when we finally got there I was finding it hard to picture her as the type to hang out with the overly-bearded hippies – my mum had once commented, in a very complimentary fashion, that she dressed like a very classy grandmother – and was sort of wishing that I hadn’t overdressed myself.

But that was the nice thing about Berlin – it was so achingly hip and avant garde, but no one seemed to care about it. It was all so effortless and… non-judgemental.

However, I do reserve my judgement about a German alcoholic concoction that another friend had led me to believe would be mind-blowing – the Diesel or, as we would probably see it, perfectly good beer ruined with Coke. Nah, actually, it wasn’t that bad, but it was weird.

Beer and bricks. Photo courtesy of Tiana Kai's blog http://blog.tianakai.com/2013/04/berlin-to-dos/#.U7yAnrHCcqd

Beer and bricks. Photo courtesy of Tiana Kai’s blog

The other cocktails, of which there were perhaps a few too many, conversely were rather well-put together – and strong. And, from what I remember, rather cheap. So, whilst my travel buddy was being a cheap date and finding herself drowsy and a bit drunk, I was able to take in a bit of the bar’s setting: exposed brickwork everywhere, shabby chic furniture, pictures within frames within other frames, random art pieces hanging around, chalk sprawled across the walls… yup, this was a place with character.

It was a good night cap, and a great way to end our first action-packed and alcohol-fuelled day in Berlin. And, rather nicely, the last-minute visit to Blechbilderbar did help me to fulfil my prophecy from the night before:

I may have a somewhat... skewed idea of what Berlin is like

I may have a somewhat… skewed idea of what Berlin is like

Wunderbar!

Currently listening to: Smoke or Fire – Irish Handcuffs

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Categories: Beer, Cocktail Bar, German | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Tales from the Old Country: Don Papa, a Filipino Rum

Back in October last year, my brother and I found ourselves chilling out in Manila, catching up with our old friend Art, who’d left London a couple of years ago. Whilst reminiscing over past good times and playing with one of my favourite cats ever (hello Fanta!), Art popped into the kitchen for a moment, re-emerging with a squat bottle filled with a rich, red-brown liquid.

There we go, I've done it - I've finally put a cat picture up on the internetz

There we go, I’ve done it – I’ve finally put a cat picture up on the internetz

“Dude, have you met Don Papa yet?”

My eyes lit up with excitement: I’d heard of this Don Papa previously on the Twitter grapevine, and now I had the opportunity to meet him in the flesh. Oh, I was giddy.

As a bit of background, Don Papa was one of the noms de guerre of Papa Isio, a revolutionary who fought against both the Spanish and the Americans during the tumultuous and ultimately unsuccessful Filipino wars of independence. Like many revolutionary leaders of the time, he came to a rather unfortunate end at the hands of the American conquerors.

But, for our purposes, Don Papa is also the name of the Philippines’ first premium small batch rum, made in the foothills of Mount Kanlaon on Negros Island. Given that the Philippines is awash with sugar and there are a large numbers of rums swilling around the country (including a good favourite of mine and staple of The Adobros Supper Club when we have it, Tanduay), this is rather surprising.

Mount Kanlaon towers above the sugar fields of Negros

Mount Kanlaon towers above the sugar fields of Negros

According to their blurb, Don Papa is aged in oak barrels for a good seven years before it’s blended and distributed, which means that this brainchild of Englishman Stephen Carroll has been a long time in the making.

And you can certainly tell that it makes a difference. Being used to the simple and cheap pleasures of Tanduay (best enjoyed with Coke or ginger beer, with a twist of calamansi), I really wasn’t ready for the much richer and more developed flavours brought to the table by the Don.

As soon as you pop that cork open and take a sniff, you are hit with smooth and delectable hints of vanilla. This velvety flavour really comes out when you have Don Papa on the rocks – something that I, as a relatively uncultured rum drinker, would never have done before. But, when added to Coke, you have a most amazing alcoholic vanilla Coke combination, all without the horrid cloyingness of actual Vanilla Coke. That night was a good one!

Welcoming Don Papa to our humble abode in London

Welcoming Don Papa to our humble abode in London

My brother and I were so enamoured of the Don that we just had to take a bottle back home with us. But every time we enjoyed a drop, it was always done so with a bittersweet feeling deep within: without a place to buy Don Papa in London, our joy would be ephemeral, like tears in the rain. Such sad times and disappointment awaited us…

************

Some months later, again word trickled along the Twitter grapevine concerning Don Papa, namely that this rum would finally be coming to London, with a glitzy launch lined up in May. This was très exciting…!

Say hello to the Don

Say hello to the Don

So, after getting our invites through the post, we made our way to Trailer Happiness on Portobello Road, the home of the Notting Hill Rum Club and hence the perfect place to be the unofficial UK HQ of the Don. Upon descending the steps into the darkened and moody cellar, we were introduced to Stephen, who welcomed us heartily and directed us straight to the bar where three different cocktails utilising Don Papa awaited us. Straight to the point!

And so, how does one enjoy Don Papa? In many ways, eh! The three on the night are below:

Don Papa Old-Fashioned

Don Papa Old-Fashioned

Don Papa Old-Fashioned

Venus Sour

Venus Sour

Venus Sour

Don Papa Julep

Don Papa Julep

Don Papa Julep

I think the Old-Fashioned was the best of the bunch, and as it was free flow all night (who thought that’d be good on a Tuesday night!?), we were certainly able to enjoy a large number of fine cocktails crafted by the talented bartenders at Trailer Happiness, who all seemed to be really enjoying themselves (see here about my views on becoming a bartender).

All in all, it was a fun-and-booze-filled night that gave the Don a grand welcome to this country. Judging from the fact that all of the goodie bags had been rifled through for the small giveaway bottles (whoever you are, I AM COMING FOR YOU), I think that the crowd of foodies, drinkies, industry types, trade professionals and everyone else very much enjoyed drinking Don Papa in its many incarnations. Or, at the very least, everyone just got really hammered.

All of this makes me very happy. As a promoter of all good things Filipino, I am DAMN excited by the idea that a product of such quality and character is gracing the UK and showing off a great side of the Philippines. I really want to see this Filipino product become a best-seller in this country and would happily develop cirrhosis if that would help the cause.

And so, if you want to actually boost the Don’s standing in this country without my having to resort to liver damage, I believe that you can buy it in Harvey Nichols, The Whisky Exchange and elsewhere. And, if you are being extra nice, you can send me a little commission payment too, you know, for the referral. Because we’re all friends here, right?

 

Currently listening to: Taken by Cars – December 2 Chapter VII

Categories: Cocktail Bar, Filipino | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Getting some TLC from your granny: Little Nan’s Bar loves you

Copyright of Little Nan's Bar. Sourced from Little' Nan's Bar website

Copyright of Little Nan’s Bar. Sourced from Little’ Nan’s Bar website

Cuisine: Cocktail bar

Address: 46 Deptford Broadway, SE8 4PH

Area: Deptford

Nearest Station: Deptford Bridge / Deptford

Tel.: 07792 205 375

Website: http://www.littlenans.co.uk/

Pricing: Cheap-Medium

Good For: Good cocktails, Friendly conversation, Chilled evening, Eccentric night, Nostalgia, Party times

If you were planning a birthday party, what would you do? Bear in mind that the previous year, you’d thrown a pretty banging house party with a whole roast lechon as its centrepiece (naturally, that part was amazing; I’ll just give myself a pat on the back), and you were thinking that you wanted something a little bit different.

Stanley the lechon pig made a special guest appearance at my birthday, 2012. Life hasn't been the same since

Stanley the lechon pig made a special guest appearance at my birthday, 2012. Life hasn’t been the same since

If you live in Southeast London, more specifically the golden, er, diamond that is New CrossBrockley-Lewisham-GreenwichDeptford (okay it may not be a diamond), you should check out Little Nan’s Bar on Deptford Broadway.

Many are the times I’ve walked past a non-descript door with an old balloon-bedecked chair standing watch outside, wandering what pleasures/terrors lurked down that dark corridor to Little Nan’s Bar. It was just begging me to find out.

"You want us to go in there...? Are you sure...?"

“You want us to go in there…? Are you sure…?”

A dark, foreboding room that says "Open". What could possibly go wrong?

A dark, foreboding room that says “Open”. What could possibly go wrong?

And so I did.

The concept, from what I saw, experienced, and gleaned (and liberally interpreted) from top grandson Tristan, is that Little Nan’s Bar can sort of be summarised as the result of an alcoholic grandmother deciding that she wanted to open up a speakeasy in her twee living room. Really.

A little glimpe of the bar in Little Nan's living room

A little glimpe of the bar in Little Nan’s living room

You have rickety coffee tables covered in porcelain tat and old magazines, battered arm chairs and musty sofas, vintage pieces and art hanging from the walls, and giant teddy bears propped up and looking for some hugs; cover up the exposed brickwork with some heavily-patterned wallpaper and maybe freshen the air and smell a bit, and you could be back in my gran’s front room in Cowes on the Isle of Wight. I wouldn’t be surprised if Tristan had a good rustle through Abstracticus next door, in the Deptford flea market or in Aladdin’s Cave on Lewisham Way (big up Southeast London yo) to get all these items – they all add up to make quite the atmosphere.

THUG LIFE

THUG LIFE – photo courtesy of a friend!

To top it all off, cocktails are served in mugs, porcelain cups and even teapots – yes, teapots. And with names like Queen Victoria, The Queen Mum and even Princess Eugenie of York (“I’ll have a little bit of Princess Eugenie, ooh err”), Little Nan’s Bar has one foot firmly planted in old-fashioned monarchist granny territory.

High Tea, anyone?

High Tea, anyone? – photo courtesy of a friend!

That’s not to say that Little Nan is not open to new things and experimentation (oooh errr): as I made a booking for my birthday, I was offered to have a cocktail made in my honour. My exact instructions were, “I’m a fan of gin-based or rum-based cocktails – something a bit zingy and fresh and crisp but not overly-sweet (think Tom Collins or Dark and Stormy)”, and the resulting concoction was the Lord Mark. Dark rum laced with ginger beer, and topped off with fresh lime wedges, fresh mints and a hefty handful of blueberries; that sounds pretty spot-on, no? Chilled with ice and served in a teapot, it made for a very welcome birthday drink.

Cocktails in a teapot. Something for all the family (granny included)

Cocktails in a teapot. Something for all the family (granny included)

Indeed, all of the cocktails I was able to sample were lovely – though as I was exercising my birthday rights by stealing/accepting offers of drinks from different, unlabelled (as far as I could see… perhaps some tags would be a good thing to use in future?) teapots, I am unable to offer any good opinion on specific Little Nan creations. I do wish I was able to try the signature cocktail of the bar, the appropriately-named Little Nan Loves You, but alas it was not available that night.

It was a very fun evening overall, with me and my friends making a raucous racket of ourselves (we were not the ones who knocked over the cabinet, I hasten to add!) as we soaked up the eccentric atmosphere. They’ve done a thorough job in creating a unique and fun space and in coming up with a drink offering that is both cheap and cheerful and good quality too – and as Little’s Nan grandchildren are on hand all the time, it’s very easy to build those relationships and connections that make you feel a part of something special that you won’t find elsewhere.

Fun and games to be had at Little Nan's

Fun and games to be had at Little Nan’s

Places like Little Nan’s Bar are why I’ve come to quite like living in New Cross and Southeast London in general – we’ve got cafés with well-made food, pubs with character and good taste in beer, cheap and cheerful Vietnamese without the crush, apparently one of the best Turkish restaurants in London (and other really decent offerings too), food and produce markets that still feel like your local neighbourhood affair, Filipino supper clubs offering something tastily different (did I just big up mine and my brother’s venture? I think I just did!) and now bars that offer up something fun in an eccentrically inventive manner. AND there’s enough exposed brickwork for all who want it.

Who needs East London, eh? It’s all about SE postcodes, babeh!

VERDICT – Highly recommended. I had a spiffing good time for my birthday, and I’m sure others would too. It would certainly add a touch of something unique and different to any proceedings taking place there. With a creative mix of cocktails and a rather fun vibe to it, all packed into a very ‘cosy’ environment, it’s definitely a place to party on with friends. Stay a while for the drinks and the atmosphere, and then come back again because, quite simply, it was fun.

Currently listening to: Open Hand – Tough Girl

Categories: Cocktail Bar | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

A brush with tiger’s milk: Having ceviche at, er, Ceviche

Copyright of Ceviche. Sourced from Ceviche website

Copyright of Ceviche. Sourced from Ceviche website

Cuisine: Peruvian

Address: 17 Frith Street, W1D 4RG

Area: Soho

Nearest Station: Leicester Square/Tottenham Court Road

Tel.: 020 7292 2040

Website: http://cevicheuk.com/

Pricing: Medium

Good For: Sharing many dishes, Introduction to new foods, Efficient service, Good cocktails, Zing, Buzzing atmosphere

Wow. I’d never tried octopus that good before. Seriously. The texture, the taste, the marinade… I would decimate the world’s population of octopus if I could guarantee that they would end up as this dish.

Let’s rewind a few hours. I was feeling rather sluggish after helping get a birthday girl absolutely hammered the night before (she’d boldly claimed that she was “remarkably sober” after dinner. Was that the reddest flag you’ve ever seen?), and was in need of a hearty meal, for I can assure you that thin, cold pizza, no matter how tasty, does not quite cut it.

I was therefore a bit concerned that my suggestion of Ceviche for dinner that night with a friend was a bit ill-thought through – they specialise in small Peruvian dishes, which to my mind did not quite scream, “I am a meal that will kick your hangover’s arse”.

I need not have worried though. Through a skilful and deft selection process (me and my friend are naturals at this, obviously), we managed to secure for ourselves some pretty amazing dishes.

And what was very surprising was the speed at which these things arrived at our bar-side perches. The place was full and they were only able to give us stools at the bar – not too cramped, not too uncomfortable, but all just a bit high to be good for normal-sized *cough* people like my good self – but that did not seem to get in the way of swift service: I hadn’t even had time to decide what my back-up cocktail would be (my original non-alcoholic choice not being available) when BOOM, the first dishes arrived.

To start with, we had the Don Ceviche (fresh sea bass ceviche in Amarillo chilli tiger’s milk, limo chilli, sweet potato and red onions) to enliven our taste buds and whet our appetites. For those not in the know, ceviche is essentially good cuts of raw fish, usually sea bass, marinated in a flavoured and spiced citrus mix that is often known as tiger’s milk. A very tantalising dish, of which we hoped the Don Ceviche would be an apt introduction.

The sea bass was chunky and soft, with a great texture in each bite. The marinade was zingy and crisp, with the chilli working together with the citrus/vinegar to really sting your mouth (note to self: do not have acidic dishes when you have a mouth ulcer… ouch). It was flavourful and rather more-ish.

The Lomo Saltado (beef fillet, sliced, flame cooked with red onions, tomatoes and proper chips) was ordered under stern instructions from my brother, Mr Beef Man himself, and it did not disappoint. The strips of beef were rare and tender (a bit too rare for my friend), and had a delicious umami feel about them, encased in a slightly smoky grill flavour. The oily marinade was good for dipping the chips into, but maybe if it had been made a bit saucier, we would have something more substantial to work with.

Don Ceviche and his companions, Pulpo y Chorizo

Don Ceviche and his companions, Pulpo y Chorizo

But the stand-out dish, as you’ve probably guessed (if you were paying attention earlier on), was the pulpo y chorizo (marinated and braised octopus and chorizo skewer, with a samphire and black quinoa salad). I will admit that the chorizo was the main draw for us, but woah – that octopus made a name for itself. ‘Succulent’ is definitely the word that springs to mind: juicy and tender with real substance to it, it was the texture of the octopus that really won me over. And it was a perfect match with the chorizo and the samphire salad (and I guess the quinoa too…? Slightly superfluous though). We both enjoyed this so much that we had a second portion sent over straight from the kitchen to satisfy our salivating appetites.

As a bit of an after-thought, we thought that the second order of pulpo y chorizo would benefit from being accompanied by some chicken saltado tequeños (wanton [sic] fritters filled with cheese, chard and Botija olives), primarily because we were intrigued to find out what wanton food was like. It was rather restrained; tasty and chunky filling, crispy and thin skin… a good fried dumpling, but disappointingly not excessive or gratuitous or even faintly promiscuous.

This was all a good spread for two people (if perhaps a bit pricier than expected… curse our hungry stomachs and their desire for a second wave of food), and most certainly met the criteria of being a hearty, fulfilling meal. Furthermore, although I was a bit wary of hair of the dog, my El Beso cocktail (lemongrass infused pisco, fresh lemongrass, lime, ginger and guanabana juice) was an excellent pick-me-up, keeping with the zingy feel of the evening – a kiss, if you will, to rekindle the life in my hangover-ridden body (eerruugh cheeeesy).

As the service was quick and efficient, and the food was swiftly delivered to our perches, we were in, fed and out all in just over an hour – and that only because we decided to skip dessert and go to Haagen Dazs in Leicester Square in order to develop diabetes.

VERDICT – Highly recommended. It has a fun and fresh atmosphere, which when teamed up with quick service and some killer dishes makes this a properly good dinner outing. Ceviche did a good job in introducing me and my friend to Peruvian food, and did so in an unashamed and bold manner which fits in with the rather vibrant and lively feel they’ve got going there. But less talk, more pulpo y chorizo, mmkay?

Currently listening to: Chthonic – Kaoru

Categories: Peruvian | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Cocktails and shenanigans: Fun times at London Cocktail Club, Goodge Street edition

Copyright of The London Cocktail Club. Sourced from The London Cocktail Club website

Copyright of The London Cocktail Club. Sourced from The London Cocktail Club website

Cuisine: Cocktail bar

Address: 61 Goodge Street

Area: Fitzrovia

Nearest Station: Goodge Street

Tel.: W1T 1TL

Website: http://www.londoncocktailclub.co.uk/

Pricing: Medium

Good For: Showpiece cocktails, Good cocktails, Raucous night, Being friends with the bartenders, Hip hop dancing, Buzzing atmosphere

Being friends with some borderline alcoholics (ha! Joke lang – they’re really full-blown alkies and on their way to cirrhosis) does have its perks sometimes, such as being introduced to fun and exciting places like the London Cocktail Club on Goodge Street.

I can’t quite remember the first time I went there, but I do recall being quite intrigued as I’d heard positive things about the place – interesting cocktails, electric vibe, fun and mixed crowd etc. What I didn’t quite appreciate at the time is how off-the-walls crazy it can get: the last time I was there, the place erupted as it was the birthday of one of the bartender’s best friends – people were dancing on the bar, the guys behind the bar were doing shots, cocktails (and the bar) were being set aflame… the good times were in full flow.

Everyday they're shuffling - it's a mighty expensive habit, mind. Photo courtesy of a friend!

Everyday they’re shuffling. Photo courtesy of a friend!

So what is it that seems to create a fun atmosphere at the LCC? (The first thing I would say is that if I were to pack in my day job and become a bartender (or do they call them mixologists there?), I would like to work at LCC. Those guys look like they are having an absolutely smashing time, and it does make me feel just a wee bit jealous.

Why the jealousy? Well, change management consultancy most certainly does not involve any of the following: making wicked looking cocktails, looking awesome whilst doing so, partying at the same time and generally being the most popular people in the room. I mean, I could try it out tomorrow at work, but I’m not so sure the client would fully appreciate it (philistines).

What else makes LCC such an enticing concept? When my friends and I want to throw some wicked shapes on the dance floor that put everyone else to shame, I generally like to do it to some heavy hip hop stylings, and the guys at LCC seem to agree that playing Busta Rhymes, Jay-Z’s ’99 Problems’, early Snoop Dogg  and other hip hop classics is a guaranteed way of setting an atmosphere conducive for dancing pleasantries.

But let’s not forget the reason that LCC exists: it’s a cocktail bar and it makes cocktails. Funky cocktails. Intriguing cocktails. Flavourful cocktails. Smooth cocktails. A whole gamut of cocktails. And generally they’re quite good, thankfully. Otherwise, calling themselves the London Cocktail Club would be a bit of an unfortunate misnomer.

I’ve been trying to work my way through their gin section, as I think gin is what classy gentlemen drink (note: I do actually quite like gin), and because, as I’ve just found out whilst writing this review, the Goodge Street branch of the LCC is described as their Punk Gin Palace. So far, I have not had any misses and have quite enjoyed the crisp and refreshing tastes of their gin creations, such as their take on the Pegu Club. Alas, I’ve always been having far too much fun to take any snaps of the drinks, except for the lonely one below. That is a cocktail in that golden syrup can. And yes, there was golden syrup in there. It was a spiffingly scrummy dessert cocktail. Mmm.

Sweet nothings

Sweet nothings

Whilst I would wholeheartedly encourage you find that non-descript stairwell on Goodge Street leading down to this basement gem (and ask you to take me with you), I would have to say that there are a few caveats that you must accept if you want to really enjoy things:

  1. It can get quite busy in there and it is quite narrow and cosy, so this is not the place for people who fear personal space invaders
  2.  You can end up waiting some time at the bar trying to order your drinks – it helps to either be a friend of the bar or a very pretty girl who’s good at getting attention (thankfully my friends are both – I love you guys!!). I always tend to order two drinks at a time, but suggest that everyone else doesn’t so that I don’t have to wait so long the next time around
  3. If you don’t like bars where they pump out some loud tunes, this place is not for you
  4. The place closes at 12am (say what????)

So, bearing all that in mind – when are we next having a drink there?

VERDICT – A good place. I very much like the atmosphere, the crowd, the drinks and the music, and every time I’ve been we’ve always had a smashing time. And with a drinks menu that extensive, I’m sure that there will always be reason for us to keep on going back for more and more.

Currently listening to: Reuben – Parties Break Hearts

Categories: Cocktail Bar | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments