The Venning brothers design cocktail list for new Mayfair establishment Gridiron by Como

Miranda Fitzgerald

01 November 2018

Three Sheets’ Max and Noel Venning are bringing their particular brand of creativity to central London, designing the cocktail menu for Gridiron by Como in Mayfair.

Located in the same spot as 90s celebrity hangout The Met Bar, the new venue incorporates a 50-cover restaurant that opens onto a kitchen, complete with a fire pit for open-flame cooking, and a 12-cover bar.

The restaurant will be helmed by chefs Colin McSherry, formerly of The Fat Duck and The Clove Club, and Richard H Turner,  executive chef of Hawksmoor. Ex-Dandelyan Jenny Willing will take the role of assistant general manager.

Max Venning told Imbibe the pair had designed a menu that was ‘a little more classic’ than their Dalston repertoire, that would be more relatable and ‘allow food to be the star of the show’.

‘[The team at Gridiron] wanted a cocktail menu that presents quite simply, using interesting flavours and technique without being too flashy,’ he explained. ‘They're updated versions of the classics, but still recognisable.’

The clarified White Russian
The clarified White Russian

Their clarified version of a White Russian uses coffee and lactic acid to split the milk, and is then stirred down with a miso-clarified sugar syrup to give it some body and vodka.

‘It’s a clear, golden White Russian, that has the same taste and texture, but is a bit more sophisticated,’ said Venning.

The Bloody Mary has been given a mustard kick, courtesy of a bit of fat washing. Venning explained it can be challenging to combine mustard and vodka, without compromising the texture.

‘We mix the mustard powder with the vodka, melt the butter and brown it, then mix them together and freeze them,’ he said. ‘What happens is the butter pulls the powder out of the vodka, then we strain it off and you’re left with this amazing strong mustard flavour coming through the liquid.’

For the Bloody Mark, the fat-washed mustard vodka is combined with a premade house tomato mix and a bit of citrus to lift it, making a complex drink quick and easy to make during service.

The Apple Spritz
The Apple Spritz

‘That’s the idea, it’s what we do in all our bars,’ Venning said. ‘There’s a lot of talk about people needing to see theatre behind the bar, and our view is that yes people need to see something happen, but actually the most important thing is that they get a consistent drink quickly, so we try to do all the prep beforehand.

‘It means the drinks are coming out quickly and the bartenders are relaxed and can actually engage with customers.’

Adding some unexpected flavours to the 12-strong cocktail list, they’ve also included an Old Fashioned made with pandan, which has an underlying flavour of baked bread, a chamomile-infused Manhattan, and a Harvey Wallbanger with mandarin and verjus. As a later addition they’ll also be introducing a Pineapple Martini, as The Met Bar claims to have offered the first fruit Martini.

In the no-abv corner, they have created a Cola Nut Cordial that’s lengthened with soda, and presents as an light, easy-drinking cola, and an Apple Spritz that’s made with homemade apple cordial, a splash of Canadian verjus, then topped with soda and an orange zest garnish.

'It's really elegant, like drinking an Aperol Spritz or Summer Spritz, but obviously with no booze,' said Venning.

The interiors of the bar and restaurant have been designed by Macaulay Sinclair, bringing a modern brasserie feel through the use of dark woods, marble and green and red leather finishes.

Gridiron by Como is now open at 19 Old Park Ln, Mayfair, London W1K 1LB

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