bars � drink
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Where? Duck Wa�e, 110 Bishopsgate, EC2N 4AY
Richard Woods, head of spirits and cocktail development for
restaurants Sushisamba and Duck Wa e, is keen 'to overcome
misconceptions'. He says, 'Whether it be too girly, too masculine,
cheesy, na, whatever - I want to make drinks more approachable.'
Woods does this by pairing the unusual with the recognisable, a
prime example being the Roasted Cosmopolitan. 'The Cosmopolitan
is known to be a feminine cocktail, so I wanted to beef it up a bit and
we settled on roasted bone marrow. I always put a controversial drink
on the menu because it is that showy, newsworthy piece,' he says.
One of Woods's latest 'controversial' oerings is the Blue Cheese
and Chocolate Martini, a drink that saw him win the UK and Ireland's
Most Imaginative Bartender award from Bombay Sapphire. 'I
like to create drinks that will overcome apprehensions when it
comes to �avour pairings. With this drink, I wanted an ingredient
that would emphasise and highlight blue cheese - and chocolate
worked. So we've ended up with a blue cheese-claried gin with
a cocoa nib vermouth and some chocolate stirred down.'
When introducing these out-of-the-ordinary cocktails, Woods
doesn't expect every customer to understand the concepts as soon
as they walk through the door. 'We're not in the same position as
chefs are right now. Food is a necessity, alcohol is a luxury.'
Matt Whiley and Ally Martin
Where? Talented Mr Fox, 1 Leicester Street, WC2H 7BL
Having raised eyebrows with oerings such as the Pig's Bloody
Mary - made with distilled pig's blood and black pudding - at
Talented Mr Fox, Matt Whiley is expanding his experimental drinks
empire with his latest Bethnal Green outpost, Peg + Patriot.
'The blood distillate took quite a bit of work, there was a lot of
trial and error,' he says of his unusual Bloody Mary twist. And you
can expect much of the same boundary pushing in his new haunt,
such as with his tribute to east London, the Salt Beef Sazerac,
made with salt beef from Brick Lane's Beigel Bake.
Behind the bar at Talented Mr Fox you'll often nd Ally Martin,
who works on integrating umami into the menu. 'Cocktails used to
focus primarily on sweet, sour and bitter �avours but they ignored
saltiness and umami. We get most of our inspiration from cooking,
so it seems silly to rule out using meat in cocktails,' he explains.
In terms of getting drinkers on board, Martin says, 'People have
this preconceived notion of what a savoury ingredient should taste
like. They should be able to cut it, it should have a texture. It's about
people getting their head around the idea of something they're
used to eating now being in the context of a drink. By the same
token, they love it because it takes them out of their comfort zone.'
Whiley says savoury drinks are also the best-sellers,
mentioning his Honest Burgers cocktail from Talented Mr Fox
- a bourbon-based drink created by distilling the patties (which
the chain was more than happy to supply). 'It felt right - burgers
are everywhere. And whenever I try it, it makes me smile.'
Ben Clark and Nico Piazza
Where? Megaro Bar, 23-27 Euston Road, NW1 2SD
Drinks duo Ben Clark and Nico Piazza have caused a bit of a stir with
their latest savoury creation, the Fisherman's Martini - a seriously
wet Martini with Plymouth Gin served in a custom-labelled tuna
tin. But more than the unique serve, the ingredients include a bit
of straight umami in the 'old man and the sea essence' - a houseinfused
vermouth with a few 'secret ingredients'. Head bartender
Piazza says, 'We wanted to give it sea �avours without having sh
in the cocktail, because no one wants to drink sh.'
Manager Clark thinks London 'is at the top of the tree in terms of
food and drink. That breeds greatness, and creativity is rife among
bartenders. There's a great culture and there's a great community.'
Clockwise from top
left: Tony C's Prairie
Oyster; Megaro Bar's
Richard Woods at Duck
Wae; Nico Piazzo
(left) and Ben Clark of
Megaro Bar; Ally Martin
in action at Talented Mr
Fox; Peg + Patriot's Salt
Beef Sazerac. Centre:
drinks guru Tony