As soon as I knew I was heading to London I started to compile a list of places that no matter what – I MUST VIST. This wasn’t even on my radar but as soon as I landed almost every London foodie worth their salt Twittered me – ‘get your arse down to the Whistling Shop’.
I had no idea what they were talking about – but a short search later showed that this great new bar has just opened its doors to massive acclaim for their cocktails, all dreamed up in their onsite laboratory. And no – not like the god-awful laboratory bar tourist trap housed in one of Melbourne’s laneways.
In true London fashion, had you not known what you were looking for you would have passed straight by, let alone realised there is one of the worlds best bars hidden in the basement. Not to mention the fact that it sits in an area that really has nothing else going on in it during the weekend (situated as it is in the Moorgate-Liverpool Street banker Monday to Friday enclave). You need to make a special decision to travel here knowing you probably will have to travel elsewhere to get any other food or drink.
It’s almost without signage, at the City end of Shoreditch on a backstreet deserted at night. The cellar room is darkly Dickensian, full of cosy corners, leather armchairs and select antiquities. In the back is a windowed laboratory – worthy of a Jekyll and Hyde fantasy – crammed with equipment modern and antiquated, used to create the wondrously described ingredients which constitute the cocktails.
And look at the prices of the cocktails – the equivalent of no more than $12. We decided upon the Black Cat’s Martini – Beefeater gin, martini extra dry, vermouth, removed cream. Fantastic drinking and perfectly executed flavours with an alcohol content to blow your socks off.
The Civility Cocktail – Lillet Blanc, martini extra dry, WS^2 exhaustion tonic, WS^2 rasberry syrup. This cocktail was a very easy drinker and had a nice rounded sweet edge that worked well.
My brother decided upon the Broiler-Maker – Hennessy Fine de Cognac, super heat treated beer ‘vermouth’, WS^2 roasted yeast bitters. This was one of my favourites and any beer lover who doesn’t mind a flirtini or two may be lead down a very dark path with this concoction.
I just had to choose the most outrageously sounding cocktail: Radiation Aged Cocktail – Diplomatico rum, WS^2 chip pan bitters, Campari, Dubonnet, Absinthe, WS^2 Grenadine, Irradiated. Straight off the bat you know that mix is going to be lethal with a Whistling twist. The first mouthful was a right-hook to the jaw but as the flavours mixed together it became one of the most elegantly balanced cocktails I have ever had.
When I once again live in London this is going to be the bar where I will drag friends along and watch their faces as they too stumble upon one of London’s true secret basement bars.
Worship Street Whistling Shop
63 Worship Street
London EC2A 2DU