Please note, Below the Smoke has now closed. Time Out Editors, October 2018.
Tucked in the basement of Nordic restaurant Rok Smokehouse, this cocktail bar is less ‘below the smoke’ and more ‘in the smoke’: there’s a faint scent of forest fire throughout. Not in a bad way: the smell only adds to the Scandinavian feel. It’s carried through in decorative minimalism from white walls to oak furniture. Beyond that, it’s A-Level science lab minus the Bunsen burners, with a metallic counter topped with tinctures.
Sciencey vibes seem about right since cocktail experimentalist and Peg & Patriot owner Talented Mr Fox has devised the menu of Scandi-influenced drinks. The house bellini (£10) with fermented cucumber, dill-infused gin and prosecco has a subtle hint of the herb garden. And the Earth and Trees Martini (£7), with beetroot vodka, birch sap and vermouth leaves an alcoholic tingle as warming as a Sarah Lund jumper.
On the downside, the waitress muddled our order (no negroni for me). But when drinks are this cleverly themed (and delicious) we’re happy to smoke the peace pipe. There’s nor-way you’ll find better Scandinavian cocktails in London.