"It's not much but it's ours"

Tuesday, July 18, 2006


Another cancelled supper with a friend tonight ( plus ca change ) left me at a loose end and, after another grim day at work, in need of a few cocktails

HP recently declared those at HAWKSMOOR as some of the best he has tried in London and, as we know, when it comes to matters shaken and stirred, he is a man of exquisite taste

I arrived at the bar to find it empty bar a few staff. I suspect that the understated sign and the location don’t help. That is soon going to change as Time Out have just reviewed as have The Daily Candy. Both were reasonably glowing and with very good reason as I can say without much hesitation that HAWKSMOOR serves the best cocktails I have tried in a very long time and at a very decent price with drinks ranging from £6.50-£7

Admittedly, with few distractions other than an ugly, bald, half welsh/Bengali man to distract him, Lucas, the Polish mixologist produced three of the finest cocktails I have tried in a long time. A dry Martini that was close to ending my shallow search for the perfect one and could only have been made better by chilling the Plymouth. A Manhattan was “perfect” in so many ways. However, best of all was an Old Fashioned. Lucas asked me if I wanted it “ hygienic” or “ unhygienic” I had to ask. Apparently, for a good Old Fashioned, the level of dilution has to be spot on. This cannot be achieved by taking ice in a scoop from a bowl as it remains too cold. The best way is for the mixer to add the ice by hand cube by cube and by so doing slightly melt the outside of the cube. He does wash his hands first, of course, but I can imagine this method is not to everyone’s taste. It does, however, produce a drink that is smooth and powerful, Magnificent. From now on, I can see myself asking a mixologist to “ wash your hands and make us an Old Fashioned.

HAWKSMOOR is owned by the people who own Green & Red and The Marquess Tavern. The man in charge is Nick Strangeway. He is, if you don’t recognise the name, The Don of London cocktail making. The man behind any number of amazing bars in London, The list is serious and long and well worth planning an evening or two exploring. Loved the glassware too

The food will take more work. The recently took over this space from a Turkish restaurant that never seemed to have anyone in it. They seem to have done little to the room and still offer a limited range of food. Today was, in fact, their first day with anything more than bar snacks and the offer is still ill formed in both content and price. They recognise this by offering a big discount on the food. Still, the intention is there with meat to be sourced from The Ginger Pig and competent staff in the kitchen.

I just ordered a sandwich. A Popcorn Shrimp Po’ Boy which was tasty enough but listed at £12 which is just plain silly. Even if it had come with chips and some of their coleslaw ( an extra £3 a pop on the menu) that would still have been too much. Still, as I say the intention to do something interesting is there as the serving of very good house made mayo and ketchup proves.

By the time I left, one other couple had arrived and were gnawing on ribs that looked well worth the effort. They also ordered a mint Julep which, in proper cups, had to be photographed if not tasted.

My three cocktails and sarnie with a tip came to £26. Good value on the drinks even if the food needs work.

Afterwards I walked the 100 yards to St John Bread & Wine and sat at the counter for dessert. The last time I was here, one of my dining companions got stuck in the toilet stall for about 30 mins. The rest of us were too pissed to noticed which made for an interesting chat when she finally got out. Mind you, the meal was pretty lousy too and I have felt no great need to return until popping by tonight.

This time, a honey cake with lemon ice cream. The cake was dry as old boots and only came to life when I poured half my glass of Vielle Prune over the top. The ice cream was good though. Still, £15 inc tip?

So, as food goes, undistinguished. But, for cocktails, a real find. Not mine as HP was there first although, as usual, I am more than happy to take the credit.

Oh, they were playing Elvis ( the real one not the pudgy Irish one ) for most of my visit in the bar which makes me even more inclined to return.

I can see myself propping up the bar at HAWKSMOOR on many evenings in my future
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