If you’ve ever been to the Farringdon eatery Ask for Janice you may have also been lured down to the basement bar for après meal cocktails, thus unexpectedly awakened to the witty connotations and concoctions that The Cocktail Trading Company are whipping up down there. The three bar maestros behind the magic, Olly Brading, Andy Mil and Elliot Ball, all from varying backgrounds in law and science (?!) somehow fell in to the world of booze (easily done) when they started The Cocktail Trading Company brand and having sniffed success in the basement plus a temporary spot behind Carnaby St, the boys decided to set up an East London flagship bar and we went along to check it out!
When inside this establishment, the bustle of Bethnal Green Road becomes a distant memory. Sandwiched between the bright lights of burger joints and estate agents it truly offers something special. A dimly lit room with quirky caricatures – Stevie Wonder being our fave -, humorous paintings covering the walls and odd-sized ‘jumble sale’ lamps lead the trend. The cocktails follow the same ideals as the bars décor with animated creations.
The menu is extensive but very exciting! It comes as a mini booklet outlining each cocktail with an illustration (Great British Bake Off style) and an array of amusements from doodles to crosswords and a drinker’s tip at the back to fill your time. Each time you order, the anticipation is rife with wonder, once you check out the online version of the menu you’ll know why.
We kicked off with the ‘APairOTeef’, a Pisco based, sharp drink. It’s a play on your Nan’s teeth sat on the bedside table, doesn’t sound all that appealing but when it arrives its served in a tumbler with a set of chocolate moulded teeth, which kinda makes up for it. The ‘Bartenders Cocktail’, with a Mezcal and Sweet Vermouth base plus the bartenders tears* make this one for a strong drinker.
The presentation became more and more endearing with each serving, like the ‘Tom & Jerry’, a bourbon spiced drink served with cheese on a mouse trap, eat if you dare! And the ‘Bonsai Butterfly’, a floral, zesty creation comprising of Jasmine Martin Millers Gin served with delicate rice paper decoration. The ‘Bee’s Knees’ – Gin, Lemon Juice and Honey, against the rest proved a little underwhelming in presentation but made up in sweet, fresh flavour.
Others to highlight were ‘Instaspam’, an apple brandy cocktail served in a spam can with an ice cream surprise waiting in the top compartment, and the ‘Rum Forest Rum’ served as a cracker, they really pulled this one off! We tee’d the night off with a ‘Handy Nightcap’ – Bourbon, cold drip coffee, sweet vermouth, chartreuse and Terry’s chocolate orange bitters all gave bold flavour. Excuse the puns, we do hope they didn’t pu(n)t you off the bar…
Cocktail Trading Co. expresses an underground ‘speakeasy’ feel to it and given the surroundings this bar finds itself in, the manic pavements outside do not detract from the beauty inside. We can’t recommend it enough!
*The ‘Bartenders Cocktail’ contains no real tears… depending on the night.