‘Molecular mixology’: a pretty offputting phrase when all you’re after is the cheer and solace of a nice drink. At this new bar in Bethnal Green’s Town Hall hotel, across the lobby from the trendy Typing Room restaurant, there’s barely a drink that doesn’t involve some sort of technological jiggery-pokery – but fortunately, none of it gets in the way of old-fashioned flavour.
Many of the spirits are house-distilled, and the ones that aren’t are mostly tinkered with in some way. There’s also a whole range of other ingredients you won’t find in your local off-licence: roasted rice ice-cream liqueur, passion fruit hops, bittered blackcurrant vermouth, beeswax cherry. So the Riot Cup Number One (£9) is made with sherry, ‘O’Clock Sugar’, cucumber phosphate and ginger ale: it’s the best Pimm’s cup you’re ever going to taste. The Vesgroni (£9) contains ‘clarified Campari’, Peg + Patriot dry gin and orange oil, and is a surprisingly complex concoction for something that’s crystal clear in the glass.
The brains behind this drinkable science experiment is Matt Whiley, who does similarly inventive things with pig’s blood and ants at his other bar in One Leicester Street hotel. It could all be overwhelming, but it’s actually a lot of fun; one cocktail is made with Tennents Super syrup and comes with a shot of Irn Bru on the side. The chatty staff provide pointers and the room is casual enough that, if you want to, you can forget about the methodology and mixology and just have a drink.