Shoreditch’s Worship Street Whistling Shop has undergone a face-lift and has a new cocktail list to boot. I popped down to check out its new drinks, and though the paint wasn’t yet dry the cocktails were perfectly polished.
Its new menu is based around the elements – earth, wind, fire and water – and the signs of the zodiac. You don’t need to believe that the stars are directing our fate though; superstition succumbs to science at the Whistling Shop, with the cocktails concocted with cryo-infusion, in-house fermentation, pressure distillation and any number of other technical flourishes.
Once you’ve descended into the speakeasy-style bar, please don’t blindly order the drink that happens to coincide with your star sign. Instead, check out the clarified milk punch Milk & Silk, the smoky and fragrantly spicy Persian Slipper, the sweet and sour Neck Oil No. 2, and, above all, the 1691.
The 1691 is a twist on the classic 1862. Goat’s cheese might seem like an unusual ingredient for a cocktail, and there’s a very good reason for this. It is. Ninety-nine times out of a hundred it would be disastrous, but in the 1691 it tastes great. Yet the goat’s cheese doesn’t steal the cocktail show – that’s the job of the spiced raspberry shrub. Aficionados will know that a shrub, in this instance, refers to a concoction of fruit and vinegar.
Before refrigeration, fruit was often preserved in vinegar and sometimes this was mixed in cocktails; a practice that is now seeing a resurgence. This isn’t a pretentious nod to the past – shrubs have an important role to play in making modern cocktails. The vinegar lengthens the flavour of each sip – giving more pleasure to the process of getting pickled. There is another reason to visit the Whistling Shop: the quality-to-price ratio.
Of course, you can get value for money at any price – an amazing £20 cocktail is better value for money than a dreadful Happy Hour cocktail for £5. But there is no getting away from the fact that cocktails are an expensive habit. As well as being a top-notch cocktail, the 1691 is just £9. That’s value for money squared.
London Cocktail Week is in full swing and an upgraded Whistling Shop couldn’t come at a better time. Owners Tom Aske and Tristan Stephenson will be behind the bar for most of the week to help guide you through the new menu. And if you dig a little deeper there’s a secret menu to uncover. I don’t drink and tell, so won’t disclose how to access it.
But I suggest you study the menu where a prominent clue takes centre stage.
* 35ml Goatka (Ketel One Vodka and goat’s cheese)
* 25ml Spiced raspberry shrub £ 15ml Mead Grand Marnier reduction
* 25ml Egg white £ 15ml Lemon juice
* Peychaud bitters Method £ Mix all the ingredients in a cocktail shaker and double shake.
* Fine strain the mixture into a large coupe, and finish with 4 drops of peychaud bitters on the creamy foam topping.