Cocktails with The Cabinet Rooms

Sunday, 23 November 2014

There is a slight contradiction that I battle with in my own tastes. On one hand, I love the idea of mixing flavours to create something new and exciting. I do it with food, and in certain sense, I do it with clothing. On the other hand, I find myself lacking in the drinks department. My drinks of preference include Coke Zero, beer, coffee and spiced, gold or dark rums. I enjoy red win from time-to-time, but cocktails really do not get along with my tastebuds. Yet I still find myself completely intrigued by the concept and the art of it all.  

Because of this, and to continue the alcohol theme after the beer giveaway, I have asked my friends at The Cabinet Rooms, who have far more of a taste and knowledge for all things on lists separate to the typical menu (that is, the drinks and/or cocktail menus), to write about their gallivants around the watering holes of London.

"We were quite flattered to be asked by Robert to write a little bit about our adventures in London.  Not being bloggers ourselves, we weren’t quite sure where to start in writing about the wildly expansive world of mixology. Robert has reassured us, however, that we simply need to be honest so, with this in mind, and in the spirit of truth, we’ve decided to go back to basics. 

Now, as you are no doubt aware, London, being one of the great style capitals of the world, has a truly amazing range of stylish bars to choose from.  Indeed, it's said that the current trend for craft cocktails really gained momentum in the capital in the mid-90’s and by the turn of the 21st Century London's cocktail scene was miles ahead of that of New York*.  By craft cocktails, of course, we mean those delicately wrought concoctions conjured up from quality ingredients, with a focus on an integrity of flavours.  These are the drinks that will open your mind up to new taste combinations or spirits that you might otherwise never have tried.  These are the cocktails that might include a syrup or bitters made lovingly by the bartenders themselves.  These drinks will more often than not, be garnished with something other than a slice of lemon. 

As with all things, quality can cost (expect to pay £8-£14 for a good cocktail in the capital) but for us, this is an expense well worth it.  Reflect on the fact that those cheap cocktails you might get during happy hour in your local pub are more than likely made of cheap spirits, packed with sugar and, probably, your one-way ticket to Hangover Central.

When it comes to bars, London has it all.  If you want the crème-de-la-crème then naturally Artesian should be at the very top of your list.  Just a stone’s throw from Oxford Circus, the bar itself is a relaxed, smart casual affair where the most stylish of Londoners sip craft cocktails with an air of effortlessness.  The drinks menu is extensive with both classic and experimental options, including a banana daiquiri garnished with caviar.  Here, cocktails can cost as much as £16.50 each.  But take note... at this year’s Spirited Awards in New Orleans, Artesian received accolades of “The World’s Best Bar”, “Best International Hotel Bar” and “Best International Bar Team” of which Simon Caporale was voted “International Bartender of the Year”.  And just last month, at a ceremony in Spitalfields, Artesian was named World's Best Bar for the third year running, beating off the greats of New York and Sydney for the prestigious title. Certainly, not your average drinking hole.

London has something for everyone, of course.  If you like experimental, there’s the Alchemist (below), very recently opened near Liverpool Street, which has an impressive range of molecular drinks to satisfy Hestonite foodies and adventurous imbibers alike.  We would recommend the Caramelised Rum Punch (£8.50) which has the bartender caramelising sugar and spices at the bar right in front of you.  For those with a more savoury palate, there are more discerning cocktails to be appreciated.  The Largarita (£8.50), full of citrus and Mezcal smokiness, is served topped with a beer foam that elevates the drink to another taste level. 

Sometimes, however, all you need is a well-made classic and for these a choice of bars abounds.  For a real smorgasbord of quality, head to Shoreditch.  The Jones Family Project, Callooh Callay or Happiness Forgets are particular favourites. There are others too…prohibition era-style speakeasies, hidden behind unmarked doors; you’d never know they were there but they are rich in atmosphere and boast creative cocktails that will send your taste buds soaring.  But that’s a secret to share in another post, another time… 

Whatever your taste, wherever you go, make sure you drink responsibly. But at all times do it with panache!  As we always say, it’s all about “quality not quantity… unless the two can go hand-in-hand”. Chin chin!"

There you have it, my first - and hopefully not last - guest post. A massive thank you to The Cabinet Rooms for the words and images - I have to say that I may have to try the Alchemist's Largarita during my next jaunt in London. I am always up for finding a new place to go and something different to show you guys, so why not a cocktail that includes beer? It sounds like the perfect stepping stone for me to get into the cocktail universe.

Find The Cabinet Rooms on Twitter by clicking here.

Cheers guys,

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