I remember that moment when I fell in love with a cocktail for the first time. It all happened some years ago, over an episode of ‘Sex and the City’. I remember admiring Carrie Bradshaw’s designer frocks and her five-inch heels, whilst she was sipping Cosmopolitans with her girlfriends in a buzzing New York bar. And since then, I tried a few.
So when an invitation came through to sample some cocktails at the freshly opened branch of The Cocktail Trading Company in Brick Lane, I jumped at the chance faster than you can say Mojito. I armed myself with my best friend and there we headed – for some tipple and an evening of solving life’s dilemmas.
This Brick Lane branch is the latest venture from the award-winning trio of bartenders – Andy Mil, Olly Brading and Elliot Ball, and adds to their other successful projects in Smithfield in London and in Bristol.
The bar is a short walk from Shoreditch High Street station, in the midst of hip bars, restaurants and popup stores. The space is small, but without feeling claustrophobic – it serves the right amount of intimate. The interior is a perfectly stirred blend of elegant and quirky. There’s brick and there’s wood, and the walls are decorated with caricatures of Alice Cooper, Tina Turner and Susan Boyle amongst others famous faces. Many other eccentricities are to be found here – stuffed owls, empty jars, jars filled with mini ice cream cones, empty bottles and cocktail mixing sets. The speakers were pumping a fantastic medley of music, some somewhat nostalgic to my delight. We were drinking possibly some of the best and craziest cocktails I’ve ever seen, whilst simultaneously nodding to Justin Timberlake’s ‘Senorita’, reminiscing over Miss Dynamite and Ms-Teeq, before rocking to ‘Summer of 69’ by Bryan Adams.
Now back to the cocktails. The masterminds behind this establishment know how to do it – these cocktails are like nothing I’ve seen before. As ‘they’ say – the devil is in the detail. What you see is what you get in this place, quite almost literally; so think wisely before you order. The small book-like menus are beautifully designed, smart and witty, and even come with a crossword and a page for doodling (for those moments you are left alone for a few minutes). Each drink on the menu is accompanied by a little drawing too, which gives you an idea of what is to come. Even the signage for the bathrooms, cleverly referenced with Chemical Brothers’ ‘Hey Boy Hey Girl’ lyrics, serves as a great conversation opener.
There are so many wonderful creations to try. We sampled the “Royal-Mail-Aged Air Mail” – which was delivered to our table in a sealed ‘Air Mail’ envelope. The “Pept-Abysmal” came in a medicinal-like bottle resembling one of those pink cough syrups I used to take as a child. It even came with a little serving cup. “Instaspam” arrived in a metal tin, which once opened, contained another tin with chocolate ice cream and a cookie/brownie combination – a perfect pairing with the forest fruit tasting drink inside the tin. “Handy Nightcap” arrived perfectly presented on a small green pitch tray, and yes, it came with a golf ball. Two golf balls in fact. One was inside the glass and the other one, made out of white chocolate, came resting on a tee next to the glass.
There are many more of these fantasy creations on offer, and you’ll want to try them all.
This place is like ‘Alice in Wonderland’ for grownups. You must go. And you will definitely return.
The Cocktail Trading Company in Brick Lane will also offer courses and training in cocktail making through their own bar school.
- For more information visit http://www.thecocktailtradingco.co.uk/ or pop in to The Cocktail Trading Company Brick Lane, 68 Bethnal Green Road, London E1 6GQ. Nearest stations: Shoreditch High Street/ Liverpool Street or Bethnal Green