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Friday, 23 May 2014

London Whisky Weekender - Peg + Patriot - East London Liquor Company

Sunday 18th May - What's better than a boozy Sunday? A gloriously sunny boozy Sunday, that's what.

The sun well and truly got its hat on last Sunday, so I skipped out of my flat in my finest pair of shorts and made my way to Bethnal Green where local Taro was waiting, sunglasses at the ready.  We ambled up Cambridge Heath Road to the impressive Oval Space, home to London Whisky Weekender for 3 days.

Oval Space in Hackney
We attached our wristbands and collected some under "under the counter" tokens (for tasters of extra special drams) before making our way into the main room where all of the distillery stalls were set up. Diving straight in at the deep end, we started by working through most of the wonderfully peaty Laphroaig range, including the brand new (and very approachable) Laphroaig Select.  I used one of my magic tokens to try some of the fantastic 18 Yr which didn't disappoint.


We ran into Amanda from Berry Bros. & Rudd (BBR) who pointed us in the direction of their Islay malts and some pretty funky rums - the 10 Yr Fijian Rum took us both by surprise.  BBR have got quite a collection going now with the likes of No.3 Gin, Pink Pigeon Rum & King's Ginger to their name.  Time for them to open a bar?



We continued to dip in and out, sipping wee drams from the likes of Auchentoshan, Glen Garioch, Bowmore and Old Pulteney (a personal favourite), whilst appreciating some superb blues and rock & roll bands that were centre stage for a music heavy Sunday session.



There was plenty else to do on site, with Jameson taking over the Pickle Factory space serving up Jameson Picklebacks, cocktails & a BBQ, as well as more drinks in the Oval Space terrace bar, and street food out in the courtyard.



Deeney's and Original Fry Up Material both impressed with their haggis wraps & smokey burgers. Deeney's can be found at various markets including Broadway Market just round the corner from Oval Space, whereas Original Fry Up Material are currently residing in The Three Compasses pub in Dalston.



Taro enjoying an Original Fry Up material burger
It's a shame that Whisky Weekender isn't on every weekend, but Oval Space will be running many more events throughout the summer and opening up their attractive terrace bar.  Keep your eyes on Whisky Lounge who organised this party, as they have lots of great ideas up their sleeves. 



Oval Space terrace bar
Going strong, Taro and I wandered over to Patriot Square in Bethnal Green, home to the Town Hall Hotel which has recently mixed things up with an exciting new bar & restaurant double act.  

It used to be the home to Viajante with head chef Nuno Mendes, who's now having a grand old time with all the celebs at the [insert overhyped or sensationalChiltern Firehouse.  In its place comes The Typing Room with Jason Atherton alumnus Lee Westcott in charge of the kitchen.  I have only heard good things so far, but I hope to check it out myself soon.

Anyway, we were already full of haggis & beef so we only had eyes for Peg + Patriot, the new bar from the Talented Mr Fox team.  TMF is one of my favourite spots for a cocktail in London, so expectations were very high.


They toyed with the name Peg & Riot before deciding on Peg & Patriot, with peg referring to an informal unit of alcohol measurement.  

We settled down at the bar and cast our eyes over a bonkers cocktail menu that features salt beef beigels, coal oil and irn bru.  They distill all sorts of bizarre liquids on a little piece of kit that sits at the back of the bar, including the Dog's Nose Hop Gin which they sell under their Moonshine Kid moniker. Garnishes receive similar levels of attention with addictive pieces of fried olive brine & beeswax coated cherries the pick of the bunch.



Distilling timetable in the background

Fried Olive Brine


Beeswax Coated Cherries
We started with two summery drinks - a playful Pimm's style Riot Cup Number One made with White Port, O'Clock Sugar, Cucumber Phosphate & Ginger Ale, and an exotic Pina Colada inspired Barley Legal with Burnt Pineapple Rum, Buttered Banana, Barley, Cultured Coconut and Lime.  Both refreshing & refreshingly different at the same time.

Ally Martin from Talented Mr Fox was a few seats away doing some quality control Sunday drinking.

Bartender & Martin Miller's Gin brand ambassador Ally Martin - boss man at Talented Mr Fox, One Leicester Street





My cunning plan to overlap my enablers failed as Caroline was running an hour late and Taro had to dash off to a concert in town.  Luckily, two more drinks enthusiasts turned up for a drink and we tried a few more concoctions.  Rich Woods (Cartizze / Duck & Waffle) and Sean Ware (Brand Ambassador for Bombay Spirits) joined me at the bar, enjoying an evening off before running a week long Bombay Sapphire Imaginarium popup at Callooh Callay (which ends 24th May).

I moved on to a Pho Money Pho Problems made with Pho Spirit, Pak Choi & Lime Leaf, & Lime, garnished with an aromatic pile of ingredients.  It was a effectively a Daiquiri with a savoury Vietnamese twist - an acquired taste but right up my street.  On the side, I had a non-alcoholic Campari & Soda - get your head around that! They have also created booze-free Gin & Tonics. Better than it sounds!

Pho Money Pho Problems
Alcohol free Campari & Soda
I also sampled the Scottish Porn Star (Passionfruit Hops, Thyme, Super T, Lime, Shot of Irn Bru) and the Peg Martini (Yeast - aka Marmite, Koniks Tail Vodka, Fried Olive Brine), which had great flavours to match the quirkiness.  The Peg Martini was worryingly drinkable and probably would have lasted about 3 sips if I had been left alone with it.


Scottish Porn Star

Peg's Martini
Don't be fooled by the comedy names & nutty ingredients, these are serious drinks made by obsessive bartenders. Prices are reasonable with all drinks coming in at £10 or less.  The back bar (or top shelf) is full of great spirits including the excellent core Compass Box Whisky range, and top local bottled beers from Beavertown, Redchurch & London Fields are there if you need them.  If you get peckish, Iberico Pork + Fois Gras Sliders from across the hall are available.  Set aside an evening for Peg + Patriot, you won't want to leave.

Last but not least, once Caroline finally arrived (20 minutes before she was meant to be turning up for a date round the corner), we dashed over to East London Liquor Company (ELLC), a new bar and distillery in Bow Wharf just south of Victoria Park.

East London Liquor Company bar with distilling kit visible in the background
Let's just call this a first look at ELLC, as it really was a flying visit, and they haven't actually started distilling yet.  Jamie Baxter is the distilling man with a plan, fresh from making City of London Gin at CoLD Bar.  There are plans for whisky, rum & vodka, though first they need to unwrap the new equipment which is visible through glass behind the bar.

The lovely airy bar is already worth visiting though, with cocktails under £10, plenty of great spirits and some fine bottled beers.  Alongside Camden Hells, Pale Ale & Ink on draught, they also have a rotating guest tap which has started with the awesome Rogue Yellow Snow all the way from Oregon. This is less surprising when you realise ELLC is the latest Barworks venue.  They are the guys responsible for the 5CC cocktail bars and top pubs such as Exmouth Arms, Harrild & Sons, Electricity Showrooms (soon to get a 5CC) and the new Three Johns in Angel.




Going for a slightly scientific feel with all the kit on show in the background, our drinks arrived in a simple but attractive beakers.  I was extremely happy with my Ginger Tommy's (Quiquiriqui Mezcal, Lime, Ginger) and Caroline was equally content with A Rose by any Other Name (Gin, rose shrub, white wine) which was whirled together in front of us in an oversized mixing glass.

Ginger Tommy's


A Rose by any other name
There's no kitchen on site but grilled sandwiches & meat and cheese plates will fill the void along with marinated sardines and smoked almonds.  They also open for breakfast (10am Mon-Sat, 12pm Sun) with Granola, Toasted raising bread, Caravan coffee and T2 teas.

I'll be back again, hopefully with some in-house spirits emerging, and possibly coupled with a trip to Victoria Park and Victoria Park Village, both of which I have never properly explored.

The Bethnal Green openings are not stopping anytime soon with Dead Doll's Club (opening 30th May), Craft Cocktail Co and a 2nd Sager & Wilde joining the likes of Mother Kelly's, Satan's Whiskers and Redchurch Brewery in one of London's most exciting up-and-coming areas for food & drink.  Exciting times ahead!  Keep track of them all on The List Map.

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In other news... I have just launched Matt The Tumblr - a tumblr account for quick photo posts from various jaunts and events to deal with some overflow.  This may well be what I update for fun trips abroad to the likes of New York, Chicago, Toronto, Minneapolis, Edinburgh and Isle of Islay that are coming up this summer. Take a look and follow me if you wish!

Latest tumblr posts - Civilised Chelsea pub crawl // Luxardo at Dead Doll's House // Anspach & Hobday collaboration beer launch // Bacardi Bats at Shoreditch Grind

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