It feels incredibly refreshing to go to a menu tasting where the only thing linking each drink to the next is sheer deliciousness. No whacky concept, no attempt to pull everything in under one whimsical umbrella. Just straightforward, tasty drinks served in glasses. It doesn't happen every day in this business, and when it does it feels bone-relaxingly good.
Ace Hotel's Gallery Bar menu is going to be a crowd pleaser. There's no doubt about that, with ingredients such as elderflower, banana, coffee, cucumber and cherry adding easy-to-love flavours to the cocktails. But there's just enough complexity to keep us coming back for more, such as dessert wines, mezcal, sugar snap peas and matchsticks.
In an achingly cool space, where creatives come to sip coffee before their Negronis, tapping away on laptops in stripped shirts, the Ace Hotel could have created something very different. And my goodness we're so glad they didn't. Because despite what everyone says about the hotel, it's actually pretty comfortable and welcoming. Hence all the freelancers utilising the space and free wifi. It's modern, sleek, well designed and on weekends the bar is packed to the rafters with easy-going drinkers, some perched in seats receiving excellent table service, others milling around the small bar.
This might just be our new Shoreditch drinking spot, a delightful melthing spot of Londoners and travellers, all meeting up in pursuit of some damn fine booze - all curtesy of bar manager Dan Berger.
Whistlepig 10 year-old rye whiskey, Craigellachie 13 year-old Scotch, aromatic bitters, sugar, matchstick, absinthe and smoke mist. This serve is created by placing an empty chilled glass over an extingushed matchstick to trap the smoke while the cocktail is stirred. The sulphuric nature of Craigellachie Scotch, combined with the smoke residue creates a surprising twist to the traditional Sazerac.
Sugar Snap Back
Cana Brava rum, sugar snap pea, lime, cucumber and watermelon. Rum is infused overnight with sugar snap peas, imparting an incredibly fresh flavour and aroma to the rum. Dan utalised the knowledge of the hotel's restaurant chefs when approaching sugar snap peas, whose only different with regular peas is having an edible case. This cocktail is long, refreshing, approachable and very tasty.
Bum Bum Train
Hendricks gin, dessert wine, parsley, lemon, sugar and egg white. Named after a Hendricks event during London Cocktail Week, the dessert wine used is Coteaux du Layon Saint-Aubin. A fresh yet richer style drink that takes the base spirit a million miles away from the overdone rose and cucumber serves. Ingenious.
Nola & Night
Bulleit bourbon, St George Nola coffee, banana and aromatice bitters. A dessert-style drink which will have after-dinner drinks in raptures. Why have an espresso after dinner when you could indulge in one of these instead?
Barsol pisco, Cocchi rosa, raspberry shrub and peychauds bitters. With raspberry in the description this drink is sure to pull in fans of sweeter cocktails, however it harbours a stealthy punch and uses pisco in way many consumers will never have experienced. Light and pink maybe, but it's balance and sleath makes the name a perfect fit.
Nectar of Life
Glenmorangie nectar d'or Scotch, apricot, sage. lemon and soda. A personal favourite this cocktail will turn even the most dubious drinker into a Scotch fan. The flavours blend harmoniously for a long refresing serve.
Ketle One vodka, St Germain elderflower liqueure, yellow Chartreuse, lemon and cucumber. The biggest seller on the previous menu has kept its spot, with a slightly updated recipe to make the flavours come to life.
Short & Stout
Diplomatico reserva rum, fig, cherry, lemon, stout and egg white. Rich, thick, warming and aromatic. A perfect winter sipper for those coming in out of the cold.
Tanquerey gin, sandalwood, lemon and prosecco. This cocktail is a subtle twist on the French 75, replacing plain sugar syrup for sandalwood - renderring a beautiful smooth spice and woody note to the drink which carries it perfectly into winter.
Food for Thought
Glenfiddich 18 year-old Scotch, Dubonnet, coffee bean, blueberry cordial and aromatic bitters. Dan Berger entered this drink into a Glenfiddich Mastermind cocktail competition and the judges loved his drink, awarding him a runner's up place and a trip to the distillery in Scotland. As the theme was mastermind he seized on two foods which help our congnative process, the superfood blueberries and the stimulate coffee. Luckily for Dan the two flavours are surprisingly delicious together. We can class this one as healthy right?
Tapatio Blanco tequila, fino, lime, pineapple and black olive. A twist on the Margarita, here the sweetness of the pineapple is married with the olive and salt rim while the fino sherry replaces the orange triple sec. A great number with a nice little kick at the end.