Published on November 11th, 2014 | by Sophia Longhi0
Hawksmoor: The Spitalfields Bar
Summary: They are perfectionists without being pretentious, and this is displayed everywhere - from the stylised decor to the carefully-crafted drinks list
Fantastic Old Fashioned
Mention the Hawksmoor to any food fan and they’ll immediately think of their famous Chateaubriand or their 55-day aged D-Rump or just their divine real gravy that will still have you licking your lips for weeks afterwards. You’d be forgiven if cocktails didn’t first spring to mind. But that’s where you might think again. Hawksmoor Spitalfields has their Spitalfields Bar lurking beneath it, and if the Hawksmoor has won your prize for best restaurant, its bar will certainly complete to become your favourite watering hole.
The descent downstairs to the bar feels like you are being made privy to a well-kept secret. The dark, burnished decor, tarnished mirrors and teal-black leather seating certainly echoes of a New York speak-easy vibe – you get the feeling Sinatra would have felt at home here. Its covert atmosphere might be something to do with it being a former strip club – and the booths that you can now book for a group dinner were once where dancers held more intimate audiences.
History lesson aside, it is now a stylish little joint that is home to an impressive back-bar and award-winning bartenders to work their way through it. While being a slightly more casual setting than its restaurant, Spitalfields Bar is serious about its cocktails – and everything from the list of drinks to the way they are poured is born from passion and creativity.
When it comes to bestsellers, Shakey Pete’s Ginger Brew comes top, made with gin, ginger, lemon and London Pride. Served in a heavy glass tankard with the appearance of a traditional frothy ale, it’s a playful nod to Britishness, but is deceivingly light and refreshing. This is one pre-dinner cocktail that the burliest of men can drink unapologetically – just like its smacking, bold flavours. The Hops & Glory is another favourite and appears to be the more delicate choice of the two, arriving in a vintage martini glass. Made with Hop Gin, lemon, Cocchi Americano and IPA syrup, it does taste more delicate too – the hops lends it an almost herbaceous hint – and with the gin subtly coming though, it tastes of a British meadow in the summertime.
Everything on the menu has earned its place to be there, nothing more than the Full Fat Old Fashioned, which has to be tried to be believed. Worked on again and again, this Old Fashioned, made with butter-infused bourbon and sugar, has been absolutely perfected, and the result really is something very special. With its unique popcorn sweetness and caramel and butterscotch undertones, it makes for an indulgent autumnal tipple and is an excellent companion to a flickering fireside.
Also take note of the Desert Island Drinks section of the menu. Taking on the idea of Desert Island Discs, it features creations from members of the Spitalfields Bar family and friends and changes monthly. This kind of personalisation is what you can expect from this place, and the bartenders will happily talk you through the creations and the stories behind them.
If you’re here enjoying the cocktails, you must go the whole hog (sometimes literally) and order some bar snacks – they have got to be some of the best around. Mainly Asian-inspired, they are superbly matched with the cocktail list and really reasonably priced. Must-trys are the XO Chicken wings – sweet, spicy, zingy and incredibly moreish, the Seoul Ribs – a Korean take on baby back ribs, they are sticky, succulent and tangy, and the Pig Cheek Nuggets – meaty and moist, they are served with a kimchi dip which cuts through the richness of the pork and melted cheese. Order some Smashed Cucumbers too, as a light accompaniment to these meaty eats – marinated in garlic, sesame and coriander. There is also a full pudding menu if you crave for something sweet.
When it came to creating a place where people would come to enjoy good cocktails, you get the feeling that Spitalfields Bar considered every last detail. They are perfectionists without being pretentious, and this is displayed everywhere – from the stylised decor to the carefully-crafted drinks list, which seems to use each ingredient to its fullest potential. The result is a selection of cocktails that are to be savoured and food that is to be enjoyed, all within a relaxed but sophisticated atmosphere.
Hawksmoor Spitalfields, 157 Commercial Street, E1 6BJShare This Post