Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Smoky Cocktails and Sensational Pizzas @ Clerkenwell & Social, Clerkenwell


A while ago, one of my favorite bars in London turned into a soulless, lacklustre, commercial joke and, slightly distraught by this revelation, I never returned again. Last night, however, my faith in the London bar scene was restored by a visit to Clerkenwell & Social, which just opened in St. John's Square in (duh!) Clerkenwell this month.

Enchanted by its literary theme and intriguing cocktail menu (they make their own infusions in house), I recruited my publishing and book-loving partner-in-crime, Natalie, to sample some of Clerkenwell & Social's best cocktails and pizzas.


Clerkenwell is known for its foodie reputation: Modern Pantry's just around the corner, Bruno Loubet of Grain Store fame has opened Grain Store Unleashed nearby, and the Zetter Townhouse has long been known for its atmospheric bar. But Clerkenwell & Social won't have any problems holding its own, I don't think.

The literary theme is apparent as soon as you walk in: colorful hardcovers hang from the ceiling, and the menus are rebound classics - some which contain inscriptions from their original owners. Upstairs, amongst its separate, Pinterest-worthy bar and seating area, the walls are further adorned with books - their pages flap in the breeze when the windows are opened in the summer.



The cocktails are aptly named, but not obviously so: for example, "Black Luce" isn't a character who features in Shakespeare's plays, but rather one who is said to have inspired the "Dark Lady" of his sonnets. It was nice to see that a little extra thought had been taken into account, rather than the usual, lazy use of alliterative alias (ha, see what I did there?), which themed bars tend to do.

The same can be said of their infusions: Natalie's "Love is a Smoke" cocktail featured Merlot, Aperol, and Campari infused with home-made Louisiana-style bourbon, which was then infused with smoked apple-wood chips - a process that Bar Supervisor (and our host for the evening) Felix was all too happy to demonstrate:


My usual impulse when presented with such theatrical cocktail making is to laugh it off as a gimmick, but folks - this is serious. So seriously good. The smoked apple-wood chips give the cocktail an initial, intense hit of disorientation as the sweetness of the Campari and Aperol forms the next layer, and the bourbon forming the layer under that. I've never tasted such a multi-dimensional cocktail before. It's genius.

Thinking that I'd play the "safe" option (which, by the way, is not what you're supposed to do when exploring an experimental cocktail menu), I requested the "I See Lychee" cocktail: infused chilli gin paired with lychee liqueur, cranberry juice and lychee.

What I didn't expect, however, was for Felix to stop half-way through making this pretty pink cocktail to tear off a fluff of cotton candy and artfully pin it to a cocktail stick.


The point, as Felix explained, was to give the customer two options: either enjoy the cotton candy separately and on its own, or to sweeten the drink (and therefore reduce the kick of the chilli),  dissolve the candy floss into the liquid. Of course, the child inside me couldn't resist doing the latter, and the beautiful pink cloud disappeared within seconds.

We took our drinks upstairs to admire the bar, before our pizzas arrived.



The thin-crust Neapolitan pizzas are the perfect accompaniment to Clerkenwell & Social's cocktails, but my advice is to get two to share, as ours were both equally delicious! As Natalie's vegetarian (they also have gluten-free options!), we chose the foraged spinach pizza and the Portobello mushroom pizza with Dolce Latte and truffle oil. To no one's surprise, the restaurant also has a range of their own chilli and garlic-infused oils, which are provided upon request.

To end the evening, we were (unbelievably!) treated to a chest - yes, that's right - of Clerkenwell & Social's spirit-infused shots.


Some sounded downright delicious (the bar's own version of Nutella infused with brandy), others interesting (white chocolate vodka), and some ... well, adventurous (Marmite vodka).

In case you're wondering, the Marmite vodka tastes a bit like gravy, Natalie has a photo of my face after I tried the mushroom (yes, really) vodka and it wasn't especially flattering ... but we both fell in love with the Nutella infused brandy and the caramel tequila, which tastes exactly like salted caramel. Felix, being the generous host he was, offered us two more for the road, and by the time we'd finished the chest, our volume levels were definitely a lot higher than before.

The shots can be ordered together in a flight of 8 (£20) or separately at £3.50 (the Nutella and brandy shot, my favorite, is £4.50 - which is no surprise, as I always pick the most expensive item in the room!).

After laughing more than I could remember in a long while and admiring the achingly cool aesthetic of Clerkenwell & Social's interiors, I could barely order a cab from my phone, let alone stumble out onto the cobblestones of St. John's Court without falling over. Oh, the woes of not being able to handle my drink - any drink.

The evening was still light and I could imagine many more summer evenings spent at Clerkenwell & Social to come. In fact, I just might book a table for Friday ...

Natalie and I were generously hosted by Clerkenwell & Social - thank you! The bar is currently running their #12DaysofSummer campaign - show your Facebook or Twitter post of a Clerkenwell & Social cocktail to bar staff and receive 2 for 1 on cocktails. 

Huge thanks to Esosa at Truffle Social and Felix at Clerkenwell & Social for a fantastic evening! All opinions are my own.
SHARE:

26 comments

  1. This looks amazing Jaime!! One to add on my list of places to go by the looks of things.

    K.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We had a BLAST there, Kelsey - you should definitely drop by! They also have delicious bar snacks and specials of the day ... we went for pizza, but mac 'n cheese was on offer yesterday too! Tempting.

      Delete
  2. I love the literary theme of this bar! And the cocktails look amazing!

    https://thecourtneydiaries.wordpress.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is a super fun place to go for drinks, Courtney!

      Delete
  3. This looks AMAZING! I can't decide whether the food or the drinks look better! Sounds like the perfect place for a great night!

    Lauren xx
    The Lifestyle Diaries

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You would love it Lauren - their cocktails are winners! x

      Delete
  4. After our Twitter chat this morning, Mr Tide is well and truly won over. He wants to go to the Crown Tavern around the corner (where Lenin and Stalin reportedly first met) so we might have to find a baby sitter and do a mini pub crawl.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. YOU MUST! I'd offer to babysit, but I'm never around ... I'd be the worst!!

      Delete
  5. Ok, everything about this had me going YES YES YES. The books, the candyfloss, the cocktails, the pizza, the chest of shots... until you got to the marmite vodka. I can imagine it would taste like gravy! Eurgh!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. HAHAHA!! It actually wasn't as bad as the mushroom vodka. I almost threw up after I tasted it. The Nutella and brandy though ... oh my goodness. Heaven in a shot.

      Delete
  6. OK, candy floss (or 'cotton candy') is one of my favourite things in the world, and I also LOVE a quirky cocktail. This place looks so fun!

    Polly xx
    Follow Your Sunshine

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It really was, Polly! I'll definitely be back soon xx

      Delete
  7. Those cocktails look incredible! I'm adding this to my impossibly long London food & drink bucket list :D

    Kasha xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Kasha! I think you'd love it. It has a really fun vibe and the cocktail list is really original, not contrived. xx

      Delete
  8. That cotton candy is so much fun, I need to try this!

    Suze | LuxuryColumnist

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes you do, Suze! They have some really wonderful cocktails on their menu.

      Delete
  9. It looks like such a unique place! And yummy too.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It really is - I was super impressed and genuinely surprised at just how good the food AND drinks were. You could tell that there was a lot of thought put into crafting the menu and that the staff have a genuine passion for what they're making! Rare to find in London, I think, when places often lose that sense of identity/uniqueness.

      Delete
  10. I love it when bars do innovative cocktails.
    Lots of love,
    Angie
    SilverSpoon London

    ReplyDelete
  11. Ooooh those cocktails look amazing!!
    Sarah xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. They were pretty gosh darn good, Sarah!

      Delete
  12. I'm beginning to think your sole purpose in life is to make me cry and whine "Whyyyyyyy didn't I know about this?!??" to myself. I have a hate-hate relationship with tequila, but if it tastes like salted caramel...? I might have to go ahead and make myself sick. The drinkable gravy on the other hand...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. MUAHAHAHAHA ... yeah, pass on the drinkable gravy. And the mushroom shot. Ugh, that was so gross.

      Delete
  13. Eh, can I have a I See Lychee cocktail right now, please?! It sounds so tasty! I definitely would have melted the candyfloss into the gin as well though!

    x

    ReplyDelete

© angloyankophile

This site uses cookies from Google to deliver its services - Click here for information.

Blogger Template Created by pipdig