1073 Cocktails and 238 Bars now listed
The vision here at PKD is to serve approachable seasonal British fare set in an urban colonial environment. A vision that appeals to a new generation of diners looking for ingredients & dishes that are truly seasonal, sourced solely from the land and sea of the United Kingdom and inspired by centuries of great British recipes.
As approachable as the food, Powder Keg offers a drinks list that will draw you into a bygone age influenced by Victorian imagination, ingenuity and innovation. A beer list built around what is great about traditional British brewing whilst doffing its cap to the new breed of micro brewed ales from around the British Isles.
The cocktail list is based on long forgotten and now resurrected recipes using historical gins and whiskeys through to modern English vodkas all complimented by hand-made liqueurs, cordials and bitters. Powder Keg provides a platform to show case the best of home-grown distillers, brewers and vintners.
The North South divide really is a bit of a problem. We’re not talking economics here, but the distribution of decent cocktail bars on the Capital’s drinking map. Whereas North of the river you’ll struggle to walk 50 yards without bumping into the latest must visit establishment, South London remains a veritable desert. Fortunately, even in the most barren of deserts there is an oasis to be found, and Powder Keg Diplomacy is making a jolly good stab at being it.
Perched in the no-man’s land that is St John’s Hill (a hop skip and jump from Clapham Junction), PDK as we shall refer to it is a colonial Britain/Victorian empire styled establishment that competes with the best the fashionable North has to offer. Their manifesto, “honoring tradition whilst subverting convention” seems to be a fine description of what is going on here. Food, although untested for this review is more of a focus than in many cocktail bars; perhaps sensibly so considering it’s going to be a while yet before the area becomes a mecca for the cocktail aficionado.
Beer is big here too, with plenty of interesting and unusual ales to make this worth the effort for fans of the world’s most widely consumed alcoholic beverage. Whatever it is that tickles your fancy, the quirky interior complete with faux overgrown conservatory provides plenty of observational material if your companion isn’t a looker, but holds just short of straying into Disney theme park territory.
It’s great to see several lesser-known classics being showcased on the cocktail menu, which focuses largely on white spirits. Sometimes this is a sign of a bar that is fearful of going too bold in the flavour department, but here it simply seems to fit with the style of the place for there is plenty going on to interest even the most jaded of palates. Execution is reliably solid, as is the easy-going banter served alongside whatever you’re drinking. Whilst the menu is peppered with classics such as the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club, Wibble and Bees Knees, a real taste of what this bar is all about is achieved in those drinks that feature various homemade ingredients. The signature Henry Martini Rifle combines Whitley Neil gin, gunpowder pinhead green tea vermouth, eucalyptus bitters and maple syrup; it might all sound a bit much but the result is a beautifully subtly sweet twist on the Martini in which each ingredient just about makes its mark felt. It’s not all about the subtle however, The Queen Anne’s Revenge for example is a mad-hatter drink that would give several world-renowned ‘molecular’ bars a run for their money. Aged Wray and Nephew rum is partnered with pickled walnut vinegar, green tea and treacle. Served under a smoke-filled cloche and alongside blue cheese and pickled walnuts, this is an oily, salty, smoky and intensely rummy cocktail that shouldn’t work, but really does. My advice? Take the plunge, get your passport out, and head Saarf.