Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Let's London Cocktail Week!

Trip date: Octoboer 2016

My trip to London last month was booked around the World's 50 Best Bar awards which I posted about here. But that wasn't all the fun on the docket as London Cocktail Week was also happening! I had ordered our wrist bands online; those gave us access to 250 bars around London, most offering a £5 cocktail. Forest arrived in town before me and graciously picked them up along with a handy pocket guide of the participating bars and their featured cocktail arranged by neighborhood. Now, we weren't going to hit 250 bars in five days, but we'd get around a bit for sure. We'd even eat some tasty bites along the way!

On our first night we headed out into our 'hood of Fitzrovia to Reverend JW Simpson. Yaguara cachaça was having an event there and the featured cocktail featured their spirit with lemon, mango, and pink peppercorn spiced pineapple juices. It was delicious and everyone was having a great time.

This spot seemed like a great neighborhood joint. It's below ground, a little divey, and serving up lovely cocktails. I was already loving this area of London.

I hadn't eaten since my dinner on my flight the night before, so we exited the festivities and headed to The Blind Pig, which is the popular gastropub upstairs from the Social Eating House. There was a doorman outside the unmarked door who showed us up the stairs. Immediately I noticed how dark it was and how loud it was. Not my two favorite things. The LCW drink special didn't sound good to me so I went with a Slap n' Pickle containing a lot of my favorite things- Hendrick's gin, apricot brandy, kummel, lemon, pickle brine.

We ordered a bit of food, they serve what I would call elevated pub grub. It was good, not great, but I was having a super time catching up with my friend so all was A-OK. Our service was really off and it wasn't very busy so not sure what the issue was. My second drink was a testament to London's practice of über-garnishing. The Silver Screen had popcorn infused Bourbon, house made cola reduction, house made bitters, and "snacks".

We tabbed out and had a great walk the to the Artesian Bar inside The Langham Hotel. The Artesian had been the darling child of the cocktail world for years, but a mass exodus had occurred recently and opinions were plenty that it wasn't what it once was. A 50 Best Bar winner four years in a row, this year they didn't make the list at all. Unfortunately for me I never had a chance to experience the original team and this visit was luke warm at best. The space is gorgeous, don't get me wrong, but the service was not up to the level of a world-class bar and the drinks were just good. The menu and presentation however are awesome! They are still presenting the Dali-inspired cocktails in very unique styles.
Continuing with my Hendrick's game, the Always Print the Myth arrived in this lovely sea urchin vessel and was created with aquavit, sherry, cucumber, lemon balm and cedar. Forest chose the LCW drink which featured tequila and was paired with a lovely little tuna tartare "taco". We had had a bit of a wait before we were seated, and that had entailed standing at the bar which neither of us has issue with, however the bartenders never took our order. I think our waitress picked up on our frustration as when we called for the check after just one round she brought us each a drink on the house.

As we made our way back to our flat we decided that a nightcap martini was in order, but the cute bar we had seen on our way out that evening was closed. We wandered past a very traditional pub which seemed to have a great gin selection so we went in. Upon ordering I was met with a gobsmacked look from the bartender. He then cobbled together what he declared his first stab at making martinis. Oh lord; warm gin, a glass rim rubbed with lemon, and a splash of possibly turned vermouth.
He couldn't have been nicer though, checking in to make sure we liked it. But that is not how we were going to end our night!

Percy & Founders to the rescue! This spot was about 2 blocks from our flat. We walked into the very nice restaurant that has two bars, picked the one that looked best and were rewarded with two lovely women bartenders who not only made us proper martinis with two different gins, but also served us their LCW drink, The Bombay Fairy (gin, orange liqueur, elderflower cordial, and a touch of absinthe. The ladies showed us around, including a glimpse of Fitzrovia Chapel which was part of the building and was included in the design of the restaurant, before walking us out.  Now that was a nightcap!
What a great first night in town! And we were able to walk to all these places in Soho, Marylebone, and Fitzrovia. Oh London, you always steal my heart a bit!

All London photos here.

Other posts from this trip:
World's 50 Best Bars 2016
London Delivers
From Brunch to Bed in Londontown
Last Call London