My dedication to cocktails (and booze in general) has taken another step. Today I have taken a day off work. Not because I had too many drinks the night before, but because I want to have drinks in the afternoon. Not any afternoon. A Tuesday afternoon.
Also not just any drinks. Dead Rabbit – best bar in the world in 2016 – has a one week only pop-up in Claridges. Despite being on the website as prebooking went live, the only slot I was able to get was 4pm on a Tuesday. So, here we are. I was slightly apprehensive as my last experience of the ‘Best bar in the world’ hadn’t actually lived up to expectations. Not even close. Except I got a drink out of a meccano elephant.
Dead Rabbit’s concept is “Bringing the Irish Pub into the 21st Century”. This is a slight juxtaposition to one of the poshest hotels in the world. It was a bit contrived, but that’s OK, because the drinks were amazing.
When we arrived our table wasn’t quite ready so we were asked to sit in the Taproom. It was attempting to be an Irish pub of North London (one of several on archway end of the Holloway Road) complete with sawdust on the floor. They served Guinness (from Dublin), Magners and Ho House 13 (eugh!) and a house punch and played Traditional Irish Music. Obviously opted for the house punch which was a manuka flower tea with rum and lemon sherbet in. It was nice, but not a good portent for the treats to come.
The vibe in the main bar is a comic book Irish New York Gangster. Wall art and menus are comics telling the tales of the Dead Rabbits gang in 1850s New York – the theme of the actual bar. It almost certainly works better not at four in the afternoon in a posh hotel. It didn’t matter because the drinks are amazing.
Our first round of drinks came in the form of a “Pirate Queen” and a “Birthday Suit”. The Pirate Queen (best drink of the day) was a rum based drink that managed to balance EVERYTHING. It was sweet, sour, savoury, spicy and all of the nom. The Birthday Suit was a really smooth whisky based drink that managed to be buttery and almost taste like marzipan despite nothing remotely almondy.
Round two featured a “Point Blank” and a “Cut and Dry”. I struggled slightly with the Point Blank as while it was an amazing drink, it gave me flashbacks to when every bar in London put cucumber in their water. Somehow water with cucumber in tastes more cucumbery than cucumber ever could. Cucumber. It was still a great drink but given cucumber, not for me. The Cut and Dry on the other hand was just delicious. Rum, Curaçoa, sumac, lime and habanero bitters. Nom.
Last round involved a “Magdalene” and a “Goody Two Shoes”. The Magdalene has zing. It really reminded me of something, but I really have no idea what. The Goody Two Shoes was spicy and smokey and a great end of the night drink (at around 5:30…). Heading back to reality via a bathroom where there was someone to turn on the taps for you was quite a crash.
They like their chilli flavours in cocktails but they don’t over do them. “I get why people like chilli” said Lovely Girlfriend. I don’t think a single drink was bad and I really want to head over to NYC to try the actual bar (not least so I can not be drinking these drinks in the middle of the afternoon!).
Drinking cocktails in a swanky hotel in the middle of the afternoon was very strange. The whole Irish pub in a swanky hotel serving cocktails was strange (what do you mean no “triples for £1” that they used to serve in O’Sheas in the Bangor of my youth?). It was 100% worth it because the drinks were amazing.
Did I mention the drinks were amazing?
Dead Rabbit is in Claridges until 22nd of August. It’s fully booked but they may accept a few walk-ins/cancellations. If you can go, do. The drinks are amazing.