Mr Fox isn’t Mr Fox at all, he’s Mr Whiley: but he is talented. Matt W was a founder of two sites of special scientific interest in the cocktail community – Purl and then the Worship Street Whistling Shop, which both employ all sorts of fancy equipment in the making of mixed drinks. This ‘residency’ at a Leicester Square hotel is his first solo venture, and it’s just as high-tech as you’d expect.
Some of the cocktails are definitely for pioneering drinkers rather than traditionalists: the Bloody Mary (£16) is made with a bit of (clarified) pig’s blood and ‘black pudding distillate’; the White Ape (£11) has ‘sweetcorn and cornflake distillate’ and ginseng liqueur among its elements. Even the more ‘accessible’ concoctions are adventurous – anything with prune and wild fennel, or burnt butter cream soda, or even pistachio gin, is bound to be a bit more complex than a Cosmo. The invention doesn’t stop with the ingredients, either – the Urban Foxtail (£11) is served in a little wheelie bin. The drinks and techniques involved in making them are as exciting as you’ll see anywhere in London.
But it also has to be pointed out that the room is far from laboratory-sterile, with subtle grey walls, flattering lighting and some very comfortable seats. So even if you’d rather your drinks didn’t need a chemistry GCSE to understand, it’s a great place to know about even just for a glass of wine in an area of rammed pubs and garish tourist traps.
Reviewed by Euan Ferguson