So, the Monday post-Brexit was depressing. Tensions were high; moods, sour. After work, Natalie and I headed straight for MASH - an American steakhouse with a Danish twist (intriguing!) - near Piccadilly to check out their cocktail bar, and to let go of some of the uneasy anxiety we'd been feeling throughout the day.
Winding our way through the curving streets of Soho, we made our way to a basement that had been a ballroom in its previous life, the art deco elements still intact. It was quiet (and remained relatively so for the duration of our visit), though keep in mind we rocked up at 6 pm on a Monday night and ... who downs five cocktails on a schoolnight?
We sat down to peruse the new prohibition era-inspired cocktail menu featuring spirits from the Czech Republic and beyond - certainly not names I had been familiar with before. Unable to dodge my tendency to pick anything remotely sweet and creamy, I immediately gravitated toward the "5 Dollar Milkshake": Jack Daniels, Disaronno, vanilla ice cream (this was key), fresh mint, bourbon biscuits, sea salt, and cream.
True to its description, my drink arrived in a beaker reminiscent of a milk-bottle and tasted exactly like a hard shake. Thick, creamy, and extra cold, it could be easily sipped after dinner in lieu of dessert.
Natalie was a bit more grown-up and ordered "NYC Calling" - Hudson Four Grain Bourbon (the bar is known for its impressive 220-strong whiskey selection), Bacardi 8, creme de cafe, Martini Gran Lusso, maple, sea salt solution and angostura bitters.
Between bites of mac 'n cheese balls and rosemary fries (served with an epic lime chilli mayo), she moved on to the "Lexington Manhattan": pineapple-infused Georgia Moon (a corn whiskey that comes in a delightful jar complete with vintage label), Lillet Blanc, sugar, and orange bitters.
And before I knew it, I heard myself ordering yet another drink from Steve: a "Nucky T" - a coconut-y, lime concoction that tasted very much like a holiday in a glass. Feeling a bit wobbly, we took a break from our delicious drinks to tour the restaurant.
Apart from MASH's American-inspired cocktail menu, I was also thrilled to see an extensive list of American wines featured in the menu and - yes - in particular, a generous selection of Washington State wines. Just seeing the words, "Walla Walla" (a city in Eastern Washington) instantly made me nostalgic for home.
At this point, feeling somewhat merry (borderline boisterous, I'd even say), we became less reserved about asking Steve for information on every single spirit in each cocktail while simultaneously discussing why the French make the best bread and butter (MASH bakes their own bread on-site, and their butter is sourced from Isigny Saint-Mere, Normandy). During the course of our conversation, talk turned to clientele when Steve revealed that Tuesday seems to be "first date night" at the bar. In fact, a newly engaged couple recently returned to tell Steve that they met at the MASH bar on their first date and were celebrating their engagement there! Adorable, right?
The next morning, I had a roaring headache (unsurprisingly). But I could still remember the taste of that iced Christmas cocktail (AKA "BLT"), which I declared to be the drink I'd serve "if I ever got married ... oh wait, I already am! HAHAHA!"
Clearly, it was a good night. You should try it some time.
Natalie and I were generously hosted by MASH at 77 Brewer Street, London, W1F 9ZN. All opinions are my own.