Secret cocktails at London’s Evans & Peel: what larks!
One of the Saucy Dressings’ correspondents managed to find an intriguing-sounding bar with a 1930s detective theme. It would have been better if it had been in a ‘30s brownstone in New York and then I could have pretended to be a bit part in a Nero Wolfe gum shoe yarn. But needs must…. us three intrepid Saucy Dressings’ investigators….investigated in London.
Thirties detective agency …. or bar?
Before going to Evans & Peel you have to book in (on the internet)….giving your ‘case’ – we decided that we were seeking an elusive elixir of youth, accompanied inexplicably by an old roué. We were given an ‘appointment’ for which we were late due to a little difficulty finding a very unassuming door down a dark back street. We were ushered in and led down – down physically, and back through time to an office bristling with ‘30s props – old typewriters, leather padded chairs, old timetables…. And, of course, there behind the desk was our private eye – perfect job for an actor looking to make a little extra cash…… this one was ad libbing with imagination, enjoyment and abandon… apparently, he told us knowingly, there was a magical liquid he knew of which might just help us find the solution we sought.
Once we’d gained entrance
Well, we got to the bar finally and began to enjoy scouring the menu – we reckoned the detective at the desk, or one of his colleagues, had some impressive copy-writing skills. One of my co-sleuths couldn’t resist lining up “The Yuzual Suspects: Ketel One vodka, lychee and hibiscus cordial, lemon orgeat*, egg white and yuzu. Shaken hard, and served up soft and sweet. Just the way you like it.” She confirmed that, indeed, it was how she liked it, but she was still seeking the elusive elixir… maybe another one?
The other co-sleuth considered having “Hemingway’s Breakfast – Barcelo Anejo rum infused with butter and grapefruit marmalade. Stirred down with a dash of maraschino liqueur. Very strong and not suitable for lactose intolerants.” What a thought – but it was a bit late in the day for breakfast, so he went instead for a Balsamic Fix. This was “one for the tequila lovers. Don Julio Anejo. Oloroso sherry. Aperol. Lime. Balsamic Grenadine. Beef salt and celery bacon. Savoury. Sour, most definitely mouth watering”. What to say? Needs energy – maybe more for a young buck than for the ‘old roué’ role he was playing?
I, on the other hand, was very tempted by the “Michael Corleone Says Hello –biscotti-infused Bulleit bourbon, amaro Averna, and Dr Elmegirab’s Aphrodite bitters. An Old Fashioned you can’t refuse.”
But on further consideration I found I could refuse. I remembered what I’d learnt when researching the post on the difference between rye and bourbon, and also called to mind the advice of bartender par excellence, Paul Silvers, whose favourite cocktail was a Sazerac. So eventually I tried an Islayllujah, a heady mix of “Bulleit rye and Lagavulin 16 stirred down with Peychaud’s, salt and yuzu essence. Dry and aromatic twist on a Sazerac cocktail.”
It certainly was. A happy choice indeed.
An entertaining bar, to be taken, let’s say, tongue in cheek.
What is orgeat*? I’d never heard of it before.
The cocktail sampled by co-sleuth Number 1 – The Yuzual Suspects – contained orgeat. Just what exactly was that we wonderered? Orgeat is an almond-based syrup, most popularly used in a Mai Tai. Originally the almonds were combined with barley (the word for barley is ‘orge’ in French). Nowadays it’s often combined with rose water, orange flower water… or as in this case, lemon. In north Africa they often combine it with pistachio or mango.
Below is some 1930s music to get you in the mood: