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Thursday 28 February 2013

Ben's Canteen - Powder Keg Diplomacy - Southsider Cocktail Club

Today's edition comes all the way from Battersea (mostly because I live there).  As expected this is already proving to be expensive and fattening (see liquified butter below) but Clapham Junction didn't let me down this week.  Three new places to report:

Tuesday night (26th Feb) - I wasn't sure where I was going to go but I had my heart set on somewhere. The candidates were Cafe Cairo (Clapham North), Pitt Cue Co (Soho), Ping (Earls Court) and Powder Keg Diplomacy (Clapham Junction). The texts went out to keen beans and votes came in for Powder Keg Diplomacy (or PKD). One keen "Lister" came all the way from Mile End only to discover that London's busiest station is sadly not on the Northern Line.

Powder Keg Diplomacy
After a quick transfer via Balham, Taro found Clapham Junction and we wandered up St. John's Hill towards PKD.  I knew a place nearby called Ben's Canteen that a friend had mentioned and so we popped in there first.  As luck would have it, Tuesday at Ben's Canteen is 2 for 1 Cocktails so we ordered a Spiced Vanilla Mojito each - to our surprise it was served in a jam jar. The drinks were good but I wouldn't buy one again unless it was half price.  We didn't stay long but the food is meant to be good - they claim to have one of the UK's best burgers but I can't confirm or deny this sadly. They run craft workshops amongst other things and it is definitely worth a look if you live in the area as there is a lot going on.

Ben's Canteen cocktails
Then we moved on to Powder Keg Diplomacy - a bar/restaurant with crazy cocktails, good beer and fine dining.  Apart from the cocktails helping it to stand out, the bar is Colonial themed and only uses ingredients that can be sourced from the corners of the old British Empire. My favourite section on the website is the separate wine list dedicated solely to wines from countries that we have been at war with.  On arrival we were presented with three ale samples to taste by a barman in a waistcoat.  They were all very nice but we made the correct decision to move on to their bizarre cocktail list.  Taro started with Queen Anne's Revenge - House Aged Wray and Nephew Rum, Pickled Walnut Vinegar, Green Tea and Treacle; Smoked and served with English Blue Cheese and Pickled Walnut.  It's a ridiculous cocktail served in a test tube type arrangement with a cork provided which you can take on or off depending on how smoked you want your rum. I meanwhile ordered Henry Martini Rifle - Whitley Neil Gin, Gunpowder Green Tea Vermouth, Maple Syrup, Dandelion and Burdock Bitters. Similarly ridiculous, mine was left for me to pour in my own time with most of the cocktail reserved in a spherical container on ice.

Queen Anne's Revenge
Taro and I were joined by two more from Team List - Rosie was excited to discover a cocktail called Regali-tea containing Earl Grey-infused Plymouth Gin (her two favourite ingredients combined at last) and Max went for a Chipotle Sour which had an enormous sphere of ice filling the glass along with a tiny Chipotle chilli. Extra points for Max for turning up having moved back to England that day from Brussels with a trip to Mexico looming a few days later. The drinks are good value at around £8 and the food is meant to be great. There is also a magician on certain evenings who walks from table to table performing close-up magic!

Henry Martini Rifle
Wednesday evening (27th Feb) - Max (of PKD fame) was having a curry in Battersea to celebrate his return from Brussels and also his departure to Mexico, so I shamelessly tried to turn it into another List evening. Luckily, Max was very keen and he will be sorely missed as a reliable member of Team List whilst he is away after a storming two day performance. We decided to try and squeeze in a few cocktails at Southsider Cocktail Club before dinner after reading great things about the Blumenthal-esque mixology going on there. Seven of us gathered in Southsider CC and we were delighted to find that they have £5 cocktails everyday from 5-8.  The cocktails are already cheap at around £7.50 considering how odd they are, so £5 is a bargain. The main reason I wanted to go was because they make their own version of Harry Potter's "Butter Beer" - here is their take on it: 42 Below Manuka Honey, Popcorn Bacardi Superior Rum, Butterscotch Schnapps, Liquified Butter (!), Soft Toffee Caramel, Vanilla Salt, Asahi Beer.

Sam and his Bloody Warhol
It was sickly sweet but definitely close to what I imagined the original to be like.  More strange cocktails were ordered including a "Bloody Warhol" served in a soup tin, "Dirty Man Harry" served in a gun shaped-flask, ice bucket and chilled coupette, "Grandma Sloane's Teatime Tipple" served in a fine bone china mug with a macaroon and the "Full English Flip" - Bacon Woodford Reserve Bourbon, A whole egg, Maple Syrup, Angostura Bitters, Dehydrated Bacon Crumb. Other odd ingredients worth mentioning include edible flowers, toasted coriander seeds, chorizo mezcal and atomised tobacco mist! The staff were also incredibly friendly and helpful and brought us unlimited free popcorn with three different flavours sprinkled on top. I can't recommend this place highly enough, especially with the overly generous daily happy hour from 5-8.

Southsider Cocktail Club
Whilst I'm here I thought I would mention a couple of events going on in London that are one-offs or have limited availability. I will try and tweet about them as they come up so follow @matthew1hickman for more regular updates. Feast is a food festival on next Saturday (7th-10th March) at the Tobacco Dock, Wapping - tickets are £8/£9 and a lot of the food on offer is from places on The List that I haven't been to yet. Cambalache - One Night in Argentina is a night of Argentinian experiences with unlimited food, wine and cocktails plus much more for £35 on 18th April. Dine Mile High is a pop-up air-travel-based restaurant/bar experience that looks fun. Backyard Cinema does what it says on the tin - tickets sell out fast each time so subscribe for updates for them. Wilfred Bagshaw's Time Emporium is "an immersive theatrical adventure which culminates in an after-party in a sprawling Victorian warehouse" - no idea what that is about. Last but not least - Hint Hunt is a an experience for 3-5 people where you have to solve a mystery together to escape a room within one hour. Leave a comment if you try any of these experiences or any of the places I have mentioned - it would be great to hear for you! Next stop for The List : The Doodle Bar.

Team List: Taro (Ben's Canteen, Powder Keg Diplomacy); Rosie and Max (PKD and Southsider); Mary, JB, Sam and Natalie (Southsider) - Taro leads with way with 4 trips

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