Thursday 13th October
Well, on day 4 I certainly worked my wristband hard. I started a restaurant highly recommended by my (vegan) friend – Saf, 152 Curtain Road. At just past 6 o’clock I was the lone drinker at the bar but all the more time for me to really find out what these guys are up to. To start with their signature cocktail was
Milk and Gin
It was their final hoorah to summer with their autumn menu coming in next week. This was reflected in the freshly picked rosemary, bringing out the herbaceousness of the Scottish Caorum gin, mixed with white tea infused almond milk, sugar syrup and lemon juice. By the name and the ingredients I expected, well, a sweet tea. What I got was a clean, fresh uplifting drink that was delicious. I will go back to drink in this lovely airy space, but I am not yet sold on raw mange tout noodles!
Next Callooh Callay offered
The Doctor Will See You
With the inimitable Colin Dunn. A diagnosis of Diphtheria got me a prescription of Lagavulin 16 yr old mixed with lemon and…various other yummy things to enhance the overriding yet delicious bonfire notes. Scarlet Fever was cured by The Dogs Nose which was gin, porter, egg white and a sprinkling of nutmeg. This surprisingly creamy drink was also fabulous and I loved the old style half pint it was served in; also available at £4 as the Jub Jub signature cocktail. We also tried their signature
Although I did not have time to discuss ingredients before drinking, it was very Daiquiri like, and strong! This was countered with scotch eggs, honey sausages and piri piri chicken, and once again the food here never disappoints; flavoursome, well-priced and inventive.
Onto Happiness Forgets, perhaps my new favourite bar. We were welcomed as we wondered into this basement bar (I was looking for a sign on the wall, my companion was following the “look for the windmill” advice; don’t worry there is an A-board outside) and confirmed we were more than happy to take our seats at the bar. They operate a no standing policy, which I baulked at on first hearing this but it makes sense. The bar tenders need time to make their creations and you do not want to push through a crowd to the toilet or have people hovering behind you. The music is chilled jazz, and the drinks are amazingly well priced at £7. We went for the signature
Which combined Kettel 1 citron vodka with yellow Chartreuse (everywhere nowadays), pink grapefruit, soda and the usual lemon juice, sugar etc. This was very nice. I cannot say more. Water infused with cucumber was replenished regularly, a must-have detail for me in cocktail bars.
Lastly, we begrudgingly left this little den for NinetyEight, 98 Curtain Road. A descending metal spiral staircase would be tricky when wet, or if drunk. On arriving the door was open to us but then where do we go? Can we sit down? What was going on with all the fruit over there? We were confused. The representative of Bloom Gin gave up her table (soon to do a smell course on cocktails) so we went to the bar to order as no one seemed particularly switched on. The bar really lives up to its reputation, Louis Quatorce style furniture, elaborate wall designs, white textures mixed with multicoloured mosaic. I liked it. Their cocktail for the week
Over the Clouds
Was, unlike most places, chosen from their menu. You cannot deny the theatrically of this one. A martini glass is filled with candy floss and a beaker of blue alcohol (lavender infused gin?) in poured over the top, dissolving the sugar and revealing a slice of lemon peel. I was convinced there was Cointreau in it but the menu did not confirm, not did the waitress. Other friends that night said they got a whole story on the bar and the drink; we got a shrug of the shoulders. On giving up to leave we met the delightful owner who was so keen we shared our experiences I thought that this relative new-comer could still easily bed into the high caliber of bars the East end offers. She also let us try the Café Patron (coffee tequila) I have heard so much about. I will definitely be back when the craziness of Cocktail Week is over, there is much more to explore here.