stalking following Rich Woods from Duck and Waffle on Instagram a while back. His cocktail pictures are sublime, but it was this picture of his Nutella Negroni that made me sit up and plan how soon I could get to London.
Rich is Head of Cocktail and Spirit Development for Duck and Waffle and Sushi Samba (a global Japanese/Brazilian fusion restaurant chain, the London venue is situated in the same building). I’ll be sharing my fab interview with him at a later date.
Duck and Waffle has an enviable location, sitting 40 floors up with spectacular views across London. The restaurant serves modern British fare and is famous for its eponymous signature dish. On this trip I was on a mission to find out about the drinks, but when the food looks like this, you know you need to come back!
The twists and bends of the Thames, the Tower of London and London Bridge are all visible from the bar, which has an unusual layout.
It feels more like a kitchen island than the ‘bartender behind the bar’ set-up I am more used to seeing. The staff work on the outside of the bar, with their stations and chiller cabinets all on display. It took me a while to get used to seeing the bartenders with their back to customers, but Rich explained that the idea was to get rid of the divide between staff and guests. Each person takes the order, makes the drink and then serves it, building a rapport with the clientele as they go.
I had the good fortune of visiting during Negroni Week (hurrah!) and an incredible line-up of the Negroni on the menu that week was offered up for me to sample. I know, tough gig.
From left to right:
(gin, Campari, seasonal vermouth blend, pine needle infusion, grass, wild elderflower, lightly carbonated.)
(Bombay Sapphire gin, vermouths, Campari, Nutella infusion
Truffled Dark Chocolate Negroni
(gin, Campari, dark chocolate vermouth, black truffle infusion garnished with truffle)
(Bombay Sapphire gin, vermouth, amaro, slow-dripped through coffee)
Negroni heaven, right there. These were insanely good and I would be hard pressed to pick my favourite from the line up, as they all offered such a unique slant on my favourite cocktail.
If I HAD to pick one though, it would be the Summer Negroni. I loved the addition of pine as an infusion and as a garnish. The light carbonation made it a refreshing alternative to a G&T on what was a warm summer’s day in London.
Then Rich ordered the Filthy Martini.
Now, I adore oysters, but am unaccustomed to seeing them sitting at the bottom of my cocktail. The menu description highlighted further that this was no ordinary martini. Branston Pickle, Whole Grain mustard, vodka, Bombay Sapphire Gin, Noilly Prat vermouth, all slow-dripped through crushed oyster shells and served over an oyster.
The ultimate Gibson on steroids.
I LOVED IT. Seriously LOVED IT.
One visit to Duck & Waffle was never going to be enough, so I returned with my sister the next day. This time I was “off-duty” and able to actually finish the drinks, rather than just sample them.
Sam ordered ‘Mind Your Peas & Qs’ – Garden pea compressed Bombay Sapphire Gin and tonic, Rich’s winning drink that took him to the final of the 2014 World’s Most Imaginative Bartender Competition. So simple, but so delicious. Peas in gin. WHO KNEW.
After revisiting the Summer Negroni (still good) I ordered the Eden on the advice of our bartender, Bernard.
The Eden is made with Bombay Sapphire gin, compressed vermouth, Inkspot EIPA reduction and beetroot paint. What liked most about this martini was the subtle flavour change as the beetroot paint diluted into the liquid.
Duck & Waffle is not a cheap date bar. This is a “wow your other half, celebrate the good times” bar. The drinks are truly spectacular and best of all, it (and the restaurant) is open 24 hours a day!
Duck and Waffle, Heron Tower, The Heron Tower, 110 Bishopsgate, London EC2N 4AY
Note: I visited Duck and Waffle to meet Rich. On my second visit with my sister, they generously covered my drinks, (so kind), this has not affected my review in any way. It’s just a bloody fantastic bar.