Monday, 4 March 2013

Returning to London

When we first came to London almost 2 years ago, the city seemed exciting and also very overwhelming. Back then, Cara and I were also very focused on establishing ourselves with a place to live and a new job to begin. London now feels like our second home. The once intimidating London underground train, is now a piece of cake. It was almost like we’d never left.  As we return to London after six months in Glasgow, we felt more relaxed than ever and felt like we could just enjoy our time. We had no pressure to find a home or a job, and as we’d done much our sight seeing in our first stint living in the countries capital, we had the freedom to relax and catch up with friends and family. 

Naturally, one of the things we wanted to do this time around in London is check out as many quirky and different cocktail bars as we could. We’d already visited many bars throughout our time, but we hadn't even scratched the surface of what London has to offer. We decided to head to Shoreditch, an area which is located just north of the city centre. It’s a part of London which just recently has become famous for it’s trendy cocktail bars and nightlife. Having only been to this part of the city briefly once before, we decided to catch up with some old friends and explore the Shoreditch area some more.

Our first stop was the "Hoxton Pony" cocktail Bar. It was here where we ordered a lesser known classic, the “Louisiana Jam Jar”. The Jam jar is a cocktail made famous in New Orleans, a city known for it’s partying. It's also famous for being the birth place of Southern Comfort. Southern Comfort was first invented by bartender Martin Wilkes in 1874. Bourbon whiskey back then was not always nice to drink, so Martin decided to turn this into bourbon liqueur making it sweeter and easier to drink.  As it's popularity grew, many cocktails were invented using Southern Comfort. Many of these drinks were often served in jam jars, which was a common theme in New Orleans during the late 1800’s.  No one is sure for certain who came up with the original recipe for the Louisiana Jam Jar, but we know that it is a relatively modern classic, which was designed to pay tribute to Southern Comfort and the city of New Orleans. It is made up of Southern Comfort, lemon juice, apple juice, a teaspoon of apricot jam, sugar syrup and a handful of mint leaves. It’s a fun and creative cocktail which will go down a treat with the bourbon lovers. But even if you are not a fan of Southern Comfort, this cocktail is still enjoyable for almost everyone.  The “SoCo” is not over powering, which lets the apple and lemon juice come through, making it quite citrusy and refreshing. The apricot jam and the mint are subtle flavours and they add another dimension to this cocktail. Trying to pick all the differing flavours in a cocktail like this always makes for an enjoyable drinking experience.

As we continued to explore Shoreditch, we decided to head to a bar which I’d heard of many times, as it was ranked number 11 in the latest poll of the ‘Worlds Top 50 Bars’. This was a little place on Hoxton Square called “Happiness Forgets”.  I was excited to order one of their signature cocktails, so I chose a drink called the “Overdraft”. This cocktail consisted of Banks 5 Island Rum, Rhum* Orange, lime juice and clove bitters, shaken and served into a chilled martini glass. It was described in the menu as being “Robust and Refreshing”, which i guess it was, but ‘refreshing’ would not be a word i’d use to describe this drink. Robust? Definitely yes... This was a cocktail which was strong in flavours and required you to sip it slowly to fully appreciate it’s taste. It was surprisingly sweet and the after taste of the clove bitters gave it a unique complexity. 

As is usual when going out in London, you find yourself having to hurry to catch the last train, so we decided to call it a night. It was great to get out and about again in London. There are many things we missed about the city. I’m sure we’ll fit in a few more outings around town before we depart.

* Rhum is a by-product of Rum. Rum is made from molasses of sugar cane, where as Rhum is only the juice of the sugar cane. The taste can often be very different.

"Louisiana Jam Jar”

In a Jam Jar glass (Or tall highball glass):
45ml Southern Comfort
15ml Lemon Juice
15ml Apple Juice
15ml Sugar Syrup
Teaspoon of Apricot jam
Handful of mint leaves
Fill the Jar with crushed ice and stir ingredients together
Garnish with a sprig of Mint

Happiness Forgets, Hoxton Square:

In a shaker:
30ml Banks 5 Island Rum
15ml Rhum Orange
15ml Lime Juice
15ml Sugar Syrup
Dash of Clove Bitters
Shake and Strain into Martini Glass

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