We went on a little tour of East London today and, after lots of food throughout the day, felt that the time was right to check out a couple of cocktail bars in the area.
We started with Happiness Forgets on Hoxton Square, where we tried one Viceroy (£9, aromatic pisco, peach, lemon, and honey, with a dash of bitters, topped with tonic, and a few bits of fresh coriander sprinkled on top) and one Mexican Sunset (£9, tequila, Campari, lemon and agave). Both cocktails tasted great and the olives we had with them (£3 or so), which were served in a marmalade jar filled with saltwater, were also delicious. The staff were professional and very friendly. We didn’t think that the atmosphere was super-special, but it’s certainly a nice haunt and we’ll definitely be back.
We also tried out near-by Callooh Callay Bar, which won a number of prizes over the years as one of the best cocktail bars around. We shared one Harrison Ford (which was fine with the waitress, who had actually recommended that cocktail to us and who filled up our glasses of tap water twice, asking how we enjoy the cocktail).
We liked the atmosphere. The bar is themed on Alice in Wonderland and you enter the main room through a wardrobe door. The menus list passport-photo sized blank white spaces under each of which you find the name and a description of the respective cocktail. Harrison Ford’s description reads: Ford’s Gin, Lady Grey Syrup, lemon, apricot liqueur, and Peychaud’s Bitters, £9.50. With the drink came a sticker of the cocktail, which you can stick onto the blank field in the drinks menu (apparently you’ll take part in a draw if you’ve stuck all 30-odd stickers onto a menu and hand it back to the bar staff), and a business card one side of which shows a photo of Harrison Ford, quite a nice and quirky idea we found.
We liked that the cocktails weren’t prepared to knock you off your shoes like they are at some places, they were just right, all three of them, not too strong and not too weak.