Drinking pornstar martinis in Crouch End might sound a bit mumsy, but my visit to Little Mercies was a far cry from that. It’s as if a sliver of east London has been grafted on to The Broadway – and it’s taken to the area very well. It comes from Alan Sherwood and brothers Max and Noel Venning, who launched dazzling cocktail spot Bar Three in Spitalfields just last year. Sherwood is in the driving seat here and worked the small room with enormous energy while we sipped on genius drink after genius drink.
Accents of midnight blue added depth and a maturity to the small room when teamed with the austere concrete bar. Bustle from customers bounced from bare brick walls – this vibrancy was a particular surprise given the low-key entrance (stripped back since its days as a Chinese restaurant). Despite the busy nature of the bar, we were greeted with big grins and waves from staff.
The aforementioned ‘Pornstar’ (in quotation marks on the menu) was as fun as the original passionfruit-and-prosecco drink. It’s apparently the UK’s favourite cocktail but, let’s face it, it’s a little bit dated. This clever reimagining saw a delightfully sweet combo of passionfruit and vanilla vodkas with wine, verjus and pink passionfruit cordial poured straight from a wine bottle. It looked like sparkling rosé, but gentle bubbles came from carbonation rather than Italian fizz. Frankly, I’d have been happy if they’d left the whole bottle with me.
We also enjoyed a Flower Sour for its light, perfumey notes, and an old fashioned became a party drink rather than a nightcap with the inclusion of caramelised white chocolate. Each cocktail was reasonably priced at £8.50, although just as many punters opted for on-trend draught beers (London breweries Villages and Deviant & Dandy included) served in schooners.
Yes, there was a group of NCT mums in for cocktails when we visited, but I can no longer judge them for ordering a round of ‘Pornstars’. This is a whole new look for London.