Shoreditch’s Curtain hotel has launched the Green Room cocktail bar, with a drinks menu inspired by East London from ex-Dandelyan Jenny Willing.
The space was formerly occupied by a Tienda Roosteria taqueria, however, Willing told Imbibe there was a mismatch with the drinks offering. ‘It had amazing cocktails, but it didn’t look like the kind of place you could get amazing cocktails,’ she explained.
The new bar, designed by Ellie Horwell, offers a super-luxe aesthetic with velvet banquettes and gilded murals, juxtaposed with polished concrete, Crittall windows, and a green-tiled bar that references the local pubs.
The cocktails take inspiration from the area’s history and cultural diversity, and champion local producers. The cocktail names reference some of East London’s famous – and infamous – local characters.
Holiest Harlot is named after Edward IV’s mistress Jane Shore, who was reportedly found dead in a ditch in the area, leading to its name, while a fruit spritz called Strawberry Thief is a nod to the iconic print by William Morris, who worked as a soap-box maker in nearby Victoria Park.
The latter includes green leaf bitters made from strawberry leaves and has a ‘very raw, green element’ that balances out the sweetness of the strawberry vermouth in the drink.
‘Having a concept is always useful for getting me thinking outside the box and using different flavour profiles and ingredients,’ Willing told Imbibe. ‘By focusing on east London, I’ve discovered loads of products I didn’t know were out there.’
Locally sourced products include East London Liquor Company Rum, Land Chocolate, London Tumeric Honey and a semi sourdough from E5 Bakery, which is used in the Bread & Butter Sazerac.
‘We infused Johnnie Walker Black Label with a buttered, toasted sourdough, then stirred it down in a breakfast Sazerac with mandarin and orange bitters,’ said Willing.
‘We wanted to create something rich and complex with a bit of acidity that’d mirror the flavour profile [of toasted bread and butter with marmalade].’
And, of course, you couldn’t have a menu that pays homage to East London that doesn’t take reference Brick Lane and Shoreditch’s south Asian culture. Rough Trade is a twist on tiki, made with jeera pani, a Bangladeshi iced tea.
'It’s a common local drink that they soak citrus peals and cumin seeds in water, and it’s an afternoon refresher and is absolutely perfect for a tiki drink,’ explained Willing. ‘We infused it into Bacardi Ocho Años and played on a jungle bird riff with Campari, pineapple and lime.’