I was 15 years old when I got my first fake ID, and it was a good one. As a result I have now been going out to pubs, clubs and fields to drink for eleven years. After a decade of watery gin and tonics, sugary alcopops, indenti-kit pints, and venues too loud to have a conversation with the person beside you in, I was certain that I was doomed to spent the rest of my weekends (and sometimes a weekday) drinking at home. Then I discovered the world of cocktail bars and the fun twist of the speakeasy.
I have written previously about Dublin’s Blind Pig which is fantastic. But when you are looking for the Daddy and Mammy of the scene, London and New York are the places to be. Luckily for me I found myself one day in Spittalfields Market looking for a place to have a quiet drink and a chat with friends. Nearby is one of the better know of the London Speakeasy set, The Mayor of Scaredy Cat Town.
The bar is located in The Breakfast Club and getting to the bar itself is great fun. You have to go through a giant Smeg fridge in the restaurant after asking to see “The Mayor”. Once through the fridge, you are lead down some stairs to a small, cozy bar of dark wood and quirky art (check out bling Queen Lizzie near the bar). There are also clever nods to the feline theme with cat food tins and a free drink for any person actually called Garfield (ID required). The stools at the tables are quite high but they provide crates to help those of us who are vertically challenged climb up. It is table service so you can sit back, enjoy reading the amusing tips from the mayor on the menu and of course, drinking lots of cocktails.
There is a good variation of styles and flavours in on the cocktail list. The four main categories were short, long, straight and Champagne so there was plenty of choice and room for experimentation. We had a table of four so much of the menu was sampled! Here is what you can expect from some of the cocktails.
This cocktail was made up of Liquorice infused Bombay Sapphire, rhubarb puree, mint and fresh lemon. It came in a shaker packed with ice which was topped off by a mini forest of mint. Taste wise this was quite an interesting cocktail to have. Initially I got a strong earthy flavours but as the ice melted the rhubarb really came through which was delicious. So if you are ordering this make sure you like rhubarb. It was quite a difficult cocktail to drink however as the tumbler was freezing cold and wet from condensation. I was also not sure if it was finished as you couldn’t see the bottom and just when you thought it was over, a pocket of ice would slip aside and you would find a pocket of cocktail.
This cocktail almost tasted good for you, with strong flavours from pressed ginger, fresh sage and Kamm and Sons (Gingseng). I say almost because at the back of all that zen was a kick of my favourite, gin. Lemon and red grapes finish off the tipple.
Yeah I did not get this for ages but don’t worry the pun is the only terrible thing about this drink. Serious contender for beverage of the evening, it is made of Stoli vodka (of Bolly and Stoli fame) St Germain Elderflower liqueur, fresh basil and lime. It was amazing, light, refreshing and full of basil flavour. Ever since sampling the Balsamacotini I am becoming more and more impressed with basil as a cocktail ingredient. Thumbs up for this one.
Not called a Tom Collins, as it was made with Plymouth gin, this Collins was as it should be, like an adult lemonade. Wonderfully refreshing and perfect for anyone who is looking for a drink that is simple and sweet.
We were in the area so one of us had to try the drink named after it. This long cocktail contains Aperol which caused great debate as none of us could remember what it was. I doubt it would have been ordered if we knew it was similar to Campari, aka the devil. But as Aperol’s alcohol content is much lower than Campari I think it is much more bearable. Matched with the Aperol was fresh coriander, bitter lemon, Prosecco and a lemon wedge. This is a drink for those who crave sour flavours and the coriander is a great addition, much more than just a garnish.
If like me you associate Daquiri’s with brain freeze, dodgy frozen fruit flavours and mornings of regret this cocktail may cause you to reconsider the Daquiri’s place on your drink hierarchy. Simply made with El Dorado 3 yr, lime and sugar it was really yummy. The taste was clean, fresh and for a Straight Up cocktail, infinitely drinkable.
From the sublime to the strange, I ordered this cocktail as it’s ingredients list seemed really weird ,and I needed to have a taste. What you get in this not very short Short cocktail is Calle 23 Blanco tequilla, peach liquor, lemon and egg white, all in a red wine float. It looked really cool when it came over as all the colours and textures were swirling about in different layers. But it did taste like the end of the night at a house party where you just throw the left-overs into a mug and hope for the best. I gave it a stir and this worked out much better and it did not taste so strong. The wine was the dominant flavour so wine lovers, give it a go and let me know what you thought!
St Germain elderflower liqueur, raspberries, bitters and Champagne. I love all of these ingredients so together it made for my perfect drink. The raspberry was absolutely lovely and I really enjoyed this tipple. Top marks.
Tommy’s Chilli and Lemongrass Margarita
One of the prettiest drinks of the evening, this Margarita came with an adorable and dangerous garnish of red chillies. There is more chilli in the drink itself, all mixed up with Cabrito Reposado tequila, lemongrass, agave syrup and lime juice. There was quite a kick from the chilli but the lemongrass held its own and was not drowned out. Good fun but not for those who order Korma in indian restaurants.
Thanks to my lovely fiancé I seem to review an Old Fashioned in each cocktail post. He loves them and can whip up a pretty decent one at home. So it is good fun to try all the different versions in different bars. The Mayor’s Old Fashioned was made with Four Roses bourbon, bitters, orange zest and brown sugar. It came in a cute mug and was garnish with orange peel. It met his approval and I thought it was wonderfully orangey. Very pleasant indeed.
King Yellowman’s Answer
Our final cocktail of the evening came in the form of this Rumfest 2012 winning beverage. It promised Blackwell rum, roasted pineapple with cinnamon sticks, honey, espresso, and fresh pear juice. According to the menu it comes with a garnish “not to be messed with”. That garnish was rum with a chilli in it that had been set on fire, magnificent! You let the chilli burn for a few minutes then blow it out. Carefully you then add the chilli/rum/fire juice to the main cocktail to taste. It would be easy to have the fire as a gimmick and that’s it but the main cocktail was really tasty. The espresso in particular was really lovely. You wouldn’t drink more than one of these but it is a really nice treat.
After reading about all that alcohol you will be glad to hear that there is plenty of food also available to order. You can choose from The Mayor’s kitchen with staples such as a cheese board, veggie burgers and mushroom pate. Or you can order food from The Breakfast Club upstairs which has some really delicious dishes.
The Mayor does not take bookings so show up early and enjoy! All cocktails about are priced £9 except the Champagne cocktails which are £10 and King Yellowman’s Answer which is £11. Happy Hour is from 5-6pm with £3 off all drinks and is a great way to sample some of the cocktails on a budget.