Published on July 18th, 2017 | by Ben Southwood


Cocktail Origins @ Duck & Waffle, Bishopsgate

Obviously the famous thing about the Duck & Waffle is the view. If you know a second thing, you know they serve a duck and waffle dish. If you know a third, it’s that they are open 24/7. A fourth might be that it’s incredibly hard to get a table: when I first went I had to wait three months even to eat at 9.45pm on a week night.

But what you might not know is that the Duck & Waffle does exceptionally high-end cocktails. I mean careful design, thoughtful menu writing, and attention to detail on an extreme level, making the £14 price tag not just about the world-beating view and rapid dedicated glass-walled lift.

This attention to detail is expressed in their new menu through basing each of the eight options on only one ingredient. If it’s tomato then they’ve made a cordial of the stalk and leaf, a scent out of the skin, and distilled the middle with gin; basically you get pure, unadulterated flavour in one direction or another.

Thus our favourites were mostly predictable: I liked tomato and red pepper because they were another, entirely novel, way of enjoying something I already liked. My friend liked the lime, coconut, and yes—avocado—offerings because he liked those foods. They were both incredibly, powerfully reminiscent of their origin ingredient while being subtly original.

The snacks are good too. Really good. You’ve probably already heard about the crispy pig ears, which are God’s own pork scratchings: long, dry, crispy, red peppery strands of porky goodness, but you owe it to yourself to do more than try them. There are devil’s on horseback: boozy prunes wrapped in crispy bacon, and deep-fried arancini balls with incredibly truffly mayo.

I think that one has to see cocktails as a different thing than Drinking. When you go Drinking, you want as much booze as you can for a relatively cheap price. You go to a pub, or if you’re really frugal you do it at home. Going for cocktails is different. The goal isn’t just the booze to price ratio—although if it is, some of the D&W options are pretty damn strong—the goal is the experience. You could go Drinking after if you liked. That’s how I see cocktails at somewhere like the Duck & Waffle—an expensive treat.

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