Purl

The mystical, magical, cocktail emporium

 

Some months ago I was told that the mad scientists behind Purl were going to open up a new bar, and that got me pretty excited. Sure enough they launched the Worship Street Whistling Shop and as I wrote recently it’s a great bar serving innovative cocktails. Now just before they opened they told me they had plans for a special cocktail experience in a room they were calling the ‘Cocktail Emporium’ but until yesterday this was just something whispered about in dark corners. A myth. A legend.

 

Well as of last night the myth has become real, and I was lucky enough to be invited down to sit through a cocktail experience that I was assured would tickle all of my senses. With no more information than that, I made my way into the basement bar that is The Worship Street Whistling Shop, where I was immediately greeted by my host for the evening, Tristan Stephenson, who then quickly ushered me through the bar to a small door hidden in a dark corner.

3 bars that aren't molecular (no matter what you've heard!)

 

I’ve been planning to write a blog about ‘molecular mixology’ for some time… but this isn’t it. It’s a term that has been floating around the drinks industry for a few years now, but one that has baffled me somewhat. Soon I will be sitting in on a molecular mixology workshop, and hopefully it will help me come to terms with this style of bartending, but in the meantime I thought I’d write about three bars I visited the other night, all of which have to some extent been tarred with the molecular brush.

 

The issue I have with the name ‘molecular mixology’ is that it seems to be used to refer to any bar or drink that is made with non-traditional methods. Put a foam on top of your daiquiri and it’s ‘molecular’, age a cocktail either in a bottle or a cask and once again ‘molecular’, dehydrate an ingredient and turn it into a powder… you guessed it, ‘molecular’. My mind tells me that we’ve chosen the wrong label for this style of bartending. Yes these are new ways of making drinks, yes they employ methods that weren’t used when Jerry Thomas was plying his trade, and yes they often lead to drinks being presented in new and interesting ways… but are they really molecular cocktails?

Hidden Gems

Last week I wrote about good service and how I hope it will become the next trend in the UK drinks industry. In my rant I mentioned other trends including molecular drinks and speakeasy style venues. I may have been a little flippant in my comments and when I bumped into Tristan from Purl he quite rightly pointed out that there is more to it than a bit of dry ice and a basement bar. It reminded me that recently I have heard a few people mutter ‘not another bloody speakeasy’ when hearing about new bars opening and that there seems to be a bit of a backlash happening. Well I for one embrace these hidden gems and think they add something important to our cocktail scene.
 
 
I guess I should start out by defining the sorts of places that I mean. We brandish around the term ‘speakeasy’ these days but in reality most of the bars we are talking about are simply slightly hidden away, dimly lit and offer classic cocktails or modern interpretations of the classics.  They generally require a reservation, as there is no standing, as such you pay a slight premium but never have to deal with it being 5 deep at the bar. The bartenders treat their craft pretty seriously, and generally you get the kind of good service that I mentioned was lacking in so many UK bars.