Merchant House (CLOSED)
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The whisky sister to Bow Lane’s gin and rum emporium.
Please note, Merchant House is now closed. Time Out Editors, January 2020.
On any given weeknight, the area around St Bride’s Church is chock-full of drinkers. You’d think there would be enough watering holes for everyone, but it’s a regular rugby scrum to get a drink in your hand. Strange then that the best of them all, hidden down a mostly disused alley, Bride Court, is a relative oasis of calm. Brightly lit and festooned with pot plants, we’re told it’s ‘cocktails first and whisky second’ at Merchant House. This is despite 500 bottles of Scotch and Irish being stocked behind the bar.
Following orders, I asked for a cocktail and couldn’t have felt more like a hero thanks to a ‘whoop’ from enthusiastic staff, a high five from a departing customer and a ‘thank you, I love making these,’ from the girl behind the bar. All just for ordering a sazerac. She made it well, too. Add to that her request to use Rittenhouse 100 as the rye at no extra cost to the £12.50 on the menu. Order an old fashioned and they pour a beer for you while you wait – they like to make them properly, which is ‘slow’, so it’s only fair a beer is included for the cost of £14.50.
There’s no price list for whisky – they know it all by heart – so ask before you buy, but it all seems pretty consistent. And on Whisky Wednesday, a bottle sits on the bar and the first shot – poured while you peruse – is on the house. At times it got busy, but we mostly sat at the bar chatting in our own space. And knowing what it’s like just around the corner, why wouldn’t you?
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