LONDON'S BEST BARS: THE DREAM TEAM AT HIX
As you can read below, HP enjoyed the food at Mark Hix's new operation in Brewer St. I was more interested when I heard about their basement bar.
Heading up the operation is my old chum Nick Strangeway, former Tales of The Cocktail "International Bartender of The Year" and all round top Catweazle lookee-likey. The menu at Hix has been created very much in his own image with a nod towards his vast knowledge of cocktail history. Add to the team, the ebullient French cocktail maker, Charles Vexenat, himself a nominee for the same award in 2009, and I knew the bar at Hix would be a must visit for any lover of decent mixed drinks.
It's a well designed space. The bar itself was created from a former sushi counter, which they have recovered with zinc. It retains its original chilling system which is used to keep glasses and garnishes at the correct temperature ready to be used. The back bar, unsurprisingly, given who is involved is huge and stocked with some truly unusual spirits for the mixers to play around with.
Neither Charles nor Nick were there on my visit, but when I recognised Stewart Hudson, formerly of Milk & Honey's Red Room, I knew that my order would be in good hands. It certainly was and one of my test drinks of any mixer, a Plymouth Martini with a twist was produced perfectly as ordered, in a sensible 5oz measure with a suitable slick of citrus oil.
I had already placed an order for my second test, a Daiquiri when, the bar phone rang and Stewart began a long conversation with someone. It turned out to be Mr Strangeway who asked Stewart to cancel my order and replace it with a new creation he had been working on, a Martinez made with Beefeater Gin "aged" for two days with oak staves. It's an odd notion, but Nick's research shows that originally gin was transported to the US in wooden barrels rather than glass bottles, so the cocktails of the day would have varied from the ones we know now.
I don't know about the research, but the spirit tasted on its own, is very strongly flavoured with oak after only two days and unless mixed expertly would be too much for me, at least. In Stewart's hands, however it was a success and a good insight into what a fine and creative addition to the London Cocktail scene the bar at Hix is going to be.
Add to that the fact that the fourth member of the mixing crew is Wladislaw (sp?) brought in from the impressive Merchant House Hotel bar in Belfast and I can only recommend you head to Hix immediately because cocktail dream teams like this don't come along very often