"Expat cocktails, absinthe…and steaks"Review Rating: Reviewed by Leila
Much has been written about the steaks at Hawksmoor, according to many a food critic they do “the best steak this side of the pond” however I’m here purely for the cocktails. Specifically, I’m here for a negroni, which I have quite unfathomably been craving all day.
Having walked past a handful of pubs which looked unlikely to satisfy my need, we swoop into Hawksmoor with its subtle American stylings. Diners get dark wooden tables and chairs whilst drinkers get to sit at the bar and watch the dextrous mixologists at work. Behind them is a brick wall lined with all manner of spirits, liquors and syrups.
Perusing the cocktail list I very nearly change my mind. A variety of Juleps, twists on Manhattans, sours and punches are described in detail along with their history. Sazerac and absinthe have a strong presence, as do ‘expat cocktails’, created by American bartenders who plied their trade overseas during the Prohibition.
A Tobacco Old Fashioned is a blend of bourbon, sugar and bitters infused with –you guessed it- tobacco, and was invented for bourbon distiller Colonel James Pepper in 1935. The Black Forest Sazerac makes my mouth water as I imagine swirling the cherry and chocolate infused rye and bourbon in my mouth.
I digress however. I stick to my guns and order what I have been salivating after all day, “good choice” the barman responds. I don’t regret it. A negroni is a strong, gin-based drink that is tempered with sweet vermouth. It acquires its deep red hue by adding Campari, and the finishing stroke is the aromatic orange peel. This bold balance of flavours is what makes it so satisfying, and my barman has got it just right.
As I savour each sip, my friend enjoys a very minty Harry Collins. Beefeater gin, Noilly Rouge vermouth, absinthe and a sprig of the aforementioned herb make up the elegant drink poured into a martini glass. Named after the Savoy’s head bartender, its sharpness surely separates the wheat from the chaff.
With steaks made from 35-day aged meat from providers The Ginger Pig, Neal’s Yard cheeses, and a trifle recipe inspired by Victorian cookery writer Mrs Beeton I’d be mad not to go back. I hear they even have specific wines to match each cut of steak – ideal for when I’ve had my fill of negronis.
Leila reviewed Hawksmoor Spitalfields on Wed 19 May 2010