The latest from our man in the U.K., Will Foster, proprietor of Casita Bar.
Last week, I was out for the evening in Shoreditch, in the east of London. Slightly hungover from the night before (as is the norm in my profession), when asked what I was drinking I found myself stuck. With still quite a churning stomach, but yet armed with the knowledge that I was due to be out all night, it occurred to me that there must be a perfect starter. That drink that will make it all better without a nasty dash to the restroom being involved. Something to alleviate those shakes and stop that, not painful, but incessant pounding at the back of the head. But what?
This inspired me to ask around – bartenders and drinkers alike – what the best kick-off drink would be and why.
The most popular, by a close margin, was a gin and tonic (Beefeater 24, of course!). The reasoning being something inoffensive, yet refreshing, with quinine to settle the stomach. With a stipulation that it should be served short, to avoid sitting on it for hours, it did seem to be a sensible, if not obvious choice. The Bloody Mary was also put forward, being almost a meal in a glass.
Sean Ware, the bar manager of Callooh Callay (Shoreditch's newest bar, recently named number 1 in the independent newspaper's top 50 bars in the UK) plumped for a Boiler Maker – a bottle of beer served with a shot of bourbon. “Shot to shock, then lager to refresh and revive whilst thinking of the next”. Good choice.
Oskar Klimaszewski, bar manager of my very own Casita was a great advocate of the Negroni. Refreshingly bitter, yet nicely loaded for fortification! A rather continental choice, yet discerning and certainly delicious.
Rather off the wall was Hawksmoor's own Pete Jeary (right) , who swore by a pint of Bucks Fizz (champagne and fresh orange juice), but stated that this was really one to kick off a night's shift on the bar.
Kat Arnold, First Drinks' purveyor of Russian Standard, Monkey Shoulder, Glenfiddich and Hendricks was to the point with a shot of good ol' tequila (with verdita, naturally). Just like Kat herself, there's certainly no messing about with this one!
Other suggestions included a margarita or daiquiri – short sharp shock to the system and certainly getting down to business, and the bloody mary for its meal-type qualities.
In the end, I went for a bourbon manhattan. Blanton's gold (very smoky, yet smooth, being small batch), served perfect with antigua formula instead of Noilly Rosso. A short sipper, yet strong and medicinal, it has become (this week) my favourite opener. A reviving ingestion of bourbon can certainly make a chap feel restored and usually reminds one of the night before. Plus, with the horse on the bottle, it is a reminder that one must jump straight back on once thrown off!
Indeed, as I finish typing this, I can hear the joyous sound of barspoon against tin as my first one is being mixed... Cheers. W.F.