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The Whistling Shop

The Whistling Shop

The Whistling Shop says:

The Whistling Shop takes it’s inspiration from drinks of the Victorian era and combines them with modern molecular techniques. The current menu focuses largely on ‘Alternative Ageing’ where we utilize methods outside of putting a raw distillate in a barrel and instead use Radiation, UV Lights, Bacteria’s and Nitros Cavitation (we do also age in our own barrels to!) The menu reaches into the realms of low pressure and high pressure distillation, Hydrosols and numerous other innovative techniques.

Social and Cocktail says:

Hollowed out into a cavernous subterranean space in the no man’s land surrounded by Shoreditch, Hoxton, Farringdon and the City, the WSWS is a surprising offering on several fronts. For a basement bar (don’t call it a speakeasy, it’s modelled on a gin palace of old) it is large, very large. With two seating areas, the larger of the two with no view of the bar inevitably feels a little distant and lacking in atmosphere, particularly on a quieter night of the week. Comfy and cosy low-rise seating for intimate meetings, or the lengthy high-rise standing table for larger gatherings do however provide a mix of opportunities that not all bars can cater for so easily. Notable too is the ability to sneak a peek into the onsite lab, or take a pew in the ‘dram shop’ where wax sealed bottles offer up a unique opportunity to undertake a bit of libationary exploration.

Gone are the early days of floor staff being dolled up in Victorian leather garb, as is the food menu which offered something a little different to the rather standard offering now in its place of a chesse and meat board. Allegedly not gone, but still not available for my recent visits are the barrel-aged cask infusions which have attracted much acclaim.  Left is a cocktail menu to challenge and intrigue, if not always overwhelmingly please.

The ‘Liver Reviver’ for example, with its combination of Hendricks gin, Kamm and Sons Ginseng spirit, vacuum infused beetroot wine, dandelion tincture and chlorogenic stabilizer sounded characteristically fascinating, but tasted dilute and yet metallic too. With an awkward bitterness confounding the confusing mix of flavors, it tasted like a lesson in why simpler is so often better. If this was to set the tone, then the even more voluminous ingredient list of the ‘Throat Oil’ was surely a bad omen. Tequila, Dubbonet, Cointreau, blueberry Tawny Port, coffee tincture, ‘Orstead’ solution, and vanilla salt combine in one glass and are accompanied by a foamed Milk Porter on the side. At first delivering an almost knockout blow of port flavors boosted in complexity by the other ingredients working behind the scenes, the consumption of the porter foam with it’s heavy bitter hop flavors reset the palate so that the second sip would have you convinced you were enjoying a different drink. This time the port takes a backseat and in comes the tequila; it’s a revelation in the science of taste. Elsewhere things are not quite so complex such as with the ‘Panacea’ and its blend of Scotch, honey and lavender shrub, lemon juice and sage dust. An unusual combination of flavors, but a successful one.  Sour, sweet, savory and aromatic; this is excellent creative mixology.

When you’re pushing the boundaries of flavors and ingredients such as the Whistling Shop is, you’re not going to delight every palate every time. The creativity has to be applauded though, and this bar is a worthy inclusion in the ‘must visit’ list of London bars.

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