Megaro Bar

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The Epicolada

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What drink could be more indicative of, more perfectly designed for a balmy, lazy summer’s afternoon you ask? The perfect escape cocktail (see what we did there) to rid these April showers blues? Enter the Epicolada. Part classic Pina Colada, a heap of Megaro Bar twist and every bit epic.

The Pina Colada was first invented by the infamous 18th Century Puerto-Rican Pirate Robeto Cofresi (“El Pirata Cofresi”), who dished out a concoction of white rum, cream of coconut & pineapple juice to help boost his crew’s morale. A kind of prototype Houdini-come-Robin Hood figure with way more balls & less nobbish hair than Johnny Depp in Pirates of the Carribean, Cofresi fearlessly ruled the waves in the West Indies until he was executed by firing squad in 1825.

Cofresi has since been mythologised by the Puerto-Rican population for his daring & courage and the Pina Colada is their official national drink. There’s even a barmy looking statue of him apparently sharpening his sword on the back of an eagle. Or maybe we’ve had too many Epicoladas to see straight.

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Anyway. In true Megaro Bar style we couldn’t let the story rest there and decided to throw our proverbial hat (or coconut husk?) in the Pina Colada ring. Head Bartender Nico Piazza first swapped out white for dark rum, choosing the Colombian Dictador 12yr for its sweet & rich profile. Next, he did away with the Coco-Lopez (yup, our Epicolada is dairy free for all you vegan pina colada lovers out there). To create the silken mouthfeel and nutty characteristics of the drink he soaks ground almonds in pure pressed pineapple juice & coconut water, which is blended with our bespoke sugar syrup, flavoured with coconut and vanilla.

The result is a light, flavoursome interpretation of the classic Pina Colada that serves up and oh so moreish. And what’s even better is unlike the overtly thick, creamy original, you can keep returning to the Epicolada again and again. Wait, that statue is starting to make sense now…

The only thing left to get you truly in the mood for summer? We couldn’t resist:

Spring / Summer Collection teaser

Waking up and not seeing your own breath hang morbidly in the air, coatless afternoons, loads of bank holidays, the promise of summer holidays, your first BBQ of the year… spring brings many great things. But nothing beats the shaking off of winter menus and introduction of light, fresh and invigorating bar and restaurant inclusions that took a back seat during the short days and heavy, warming flavours.

Whilst we’re still tweaking the final touches of the Megaro Bar Spring / Summer ’14 Collection we thought we’d get you all hot under the collar with a little anticipation of what is to come. And thus, we begin by introducing the Fisherman’s Martini as our first teaser to the upcoming collection.

 

Fisherman’s martini

It wasn’t quite the epic battle concocting our twist on a classic martini as Hemingway’s Santiago encountered with the giant marlin, but the results are certainly as staggering. Drawing inspiration from Plymouth gin’s naval history our Head Bartender Nico has developed a – naturally – wet martini aromatised with Old Man and the Sea essence.

Whilst the full ingredients list will remain a secret (perhaps we’ll detail it in a message in a bottle), we can disclose that we have balanced the gentle wave of the Plymouth martini with distinctly seaward ingredients to evoke the lingering memories floating in front of the Old Man and the Sea as he drifted vainly across open water in search of his fish.

Recipe

40ml Plymouth Navy Gin

20ml dry vermouth

Aromatised with Old Man and the Sea essence

The best - well, one of - martini in London!

If you weren’t lurking somewhere near a tube station in time to scoop a copy of Shortlist Magazine the other week, our Fisherman’s Martini was featured as one of the top five Martini serves in London. We’ve included the article below, just for boasting purposes of course.

Megaro Bar will be serving up the Fisherman’s Martini Monday – Saturday nights long into the balmy promise of summer.

Valentine’s Day

We’re all the first to admit how over Valentine’s Day we are these days. It’s just a massive publicity stunt by Hallmark and couples desperate to showcase their love to everyone, right? Yet we still don’t like to let it pass without at least one salute in the day’s direction. There’s practically as much tradition in the Anti-Valentine’s Day as the real thing.

So, to celebrate at Megaro Bar we have decided to compile our favourite Valentine’s cocktails, and for good measure, the cocktails you should avoid. So whichever side of the tradition you agree with, there’s still a cheers to be had.

Valentine’s Day cocktails

1. Perfect Lady

Nothing beats telling a girl how perfect she is than with a cocktail saying exactly that. Okay, she doesn’t have to know the cocktail wasn’t named specifically for her.

Beefeater gin, crème de Peche, lemon juice, egg white, sugarimage

2. Between the Sheets

Let’s face it: we all have an endgame on Valentine’s Day. Let your loved one know it’s on the cards with this aptly name concoction. 

Martell VSOP cognac, Havana 3yr rum, triple sec, lemon juice

3. Hanky Panky

You’re a few cocktails down. Damn those oysters were good. Your date’s looking sexy as hell in the flickering candlelight. The rich red curtains framing the table are doing nothing to stop your mind wandering. We say about time for a Hanky Panky.

Beefeater gin, sweet vermouth, Fernet Branca

4. Dirty martini

‘nuff said.

Beefeater gin, dry vermouth, olive or twist

And for the haters

1. Corpse Reviver no.2

Nobody likes to be reminded of death on a Valentine’s date.

2. Zombie

Ditto zombies.

3. Moscow Mule

Guess who’ll be wearing this cocktail if you try and order it for that special someone. That’s right. Your face.

4. Sex on the beach.

Just. Don’t.

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!

 

Chinese New Year

Okay guys, probably not everybody knows that today is the first year of the Chinese calendar. Unless you are walking by chance around China Town and wondering why there’s so many oriental happy faces and heaps of red decorations (red is the colour of good luck), you won’t probably know that today begins the year of horse. People born in the year of the horse are said to be a bit like horses: animated, active and energetic, they love being in a crowd.  If you were born in the year of the horse, you should be looking for potential partners who were born in the years of the tiger, goat or dog. Avoid those born in the year of the rat, ox, rabbit or horse. Folks no worries, bullocks, rodents and bugs bunnies are tonight banned down at Megaro!

We don’t have any table set up for playing and gambling at Fan Tan, but we do have our celebrative cocktail, the Chinese Courage: Plum Blossom Tea cordial mixed with our unusual Colombian Gin will do the job!

You know, Megaro is a taste of world’s flavours, and after long research and thanks to our friends of www.green-tea-shop.com we received a delivery here in London of two different qualities of plum blossom tea, made in China and delivered by way of the USA! And funnily enough we found out that the gin that best enhances its qualities is a Colombian one, made from unaged-just off the pot rum which is then redistilled to turn into gin and shortly aged in casks.

The story of the Chinese Courage begins with its forbearer, the Chinese Waiting Room. Following an inspiring trip to Hong Kong I created a cocktail using Beefeater gin and chrysanthemum cordial for our first cocktail list. Read the full story of the conception of the Chinese Waiting Room in our previous post here. Fascinated by the chrysanthemum’s status as one of the Four Gentlemen – four plants that represent the changing of the seasons in Chinese symbolism – my next set mind to creating a cocktail using plum blossom, which represents the final winter season. Plum blossoms are so particularly cherished because they are viewed as blooming most vibrantly amidst the winter snow, and are a symbol of perseverance and hope, courage and purity.

And so, after a bit of experimenting, the Chinese Courage was born. The aged gin adds a bold citrus flavour to the distinct floral notes of the cordial, and its Colombian origin ties in perfectly with the eclectic Megaro philosophy.

Xin Nian Kuai Le to everybody!

Birch & Bruks

Happy 2014 everyone!

We’re kicking off the New Year with a post from our Head Bartender Nico Piazza discussing his inspiration behind our house creation Birch & Bruks.

Enjoy!

If we think about Sweden what probably first crosses our minds are Ikea, Lego, dark days for half of the year (or bright ones, depending on your point of view), Abba, the Nobel Prize, or who knows, even Stockholm syndrome. The fact is Sweden is a country where great ideas concerning food and drink are continuing to develop.

I’d like to start talking about Fäviken, a restaurant in the middle of nowhere where Head Chef Magnus Nilsson runs with remarkable skills and philosophy one of the most admired and acclaimed restaurants in the world. We are far away from the shining Champs Elysees, from the posh streets of Mayfair or the last century silver service style restaurants. Here everything seems to give way to the research of individual ingredients and the philosophy linking nature-man-food.  By reading the cookbook of Magnus, I became very fascinated by how many ingredients take on a different dimension on their journey from conception to consumption.

His sources his birch syrup from a trustworthy supplier, who simmers 100 litres of pure organic birch sap drilled out from the plant, down to 1. Yes, just 1 litre. In this simple process of reduction (a technique widely used in cooking) the achieved results are twofold: a huge intensification of flavours and an increase of the sugar level. It is pretty much the same method as making the famous maple syrup. Birch sap in its natural state is a slightly cloudy water-like liquid, and is famous for its healthy proprieties, but straight from the tree it is not a very interesting taste.

Intrigued by what it could taste like and how I could have eventually turn it into a cocktail, I bought some and repeated the process. It was love at first sight! Almost for joke I decided to mix it with the most Swedish thing I had in my bar: Mackmyra Brukswhisky, and believe it or not, it worked! It is normally the base combination around which one builds a drink, but I really enjoyed the simplicity of this new bond: birch sap and Swedish whisky.

Yes I said Swedish whisky.  We were saying that Sweden is way more than our stereotypes. From the Bruks distillery, just outside of Gävle, you find the first Swedish single malt whisky: made with locally sourced ingredients, distilled with a new amazing gravity system and then aged with a final touch of Swedish oak.  Mackmyra Brukswhisky definitely deserves more interest and recognition. Proud to be not a weird copy of the older uncle Scotch whisky, the freshness and lightness of this single malt marries with the birch sap in perfect harmony. 3 parts to 1, add a lemon twist, Skål!  

www.megarobar.co.uk     info@megarobar.co.uk    0203 432 5150

This Way Up Photography Installation

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Last week marked the launch of the new photography installation at Megaro Bar. Henry Thomas, a Shoreditch-based South African-born photographer, in collaboration with Cape Town based K&i Studio, were the brave team to take on the challenge.

When we first launched Megaro Bar the photography in the Dark Room and the Picture Room maintained strong individual identities; the Picture Room featuring local portraiture whilst the Dark Room boasted naughtier, raunchier classic photography.

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Original Dark Room photography

Initially a project intended solely for the Picture Room, the project soon developed to span the whole bar (yes, the ladies with see-through blouses have gone. Don’t be sad). Sitting down together one dingy Tuesday afternoon, we were presented with images of breath-taking cityscapes, juxtaposing the urban drama with moody landscapes for the picture room. We were hooked.

 And not only does the project span the whole bar, but across continents. After taking on the project, Henry immediately turned to long term university friends and collaborators K&I Studios, “we jumped at it straight away and put pen to paper that afternoon” explains Ida. K&I Studios are a graphic design team based in Cape Town, South Africa, where Karl and Ida focus on brand creation and produce identities for global brands. Below, Karl and Ida explain a little further the inspiration for the installation:

 “The concept we created was based on contradictions and juxtapositions, and we also wanted to take the location of the space into consideration, a magnificent roof top view of London as you descend into the bar was the outcome of this idea. This Way Up plays on the space where city meets country, and images meet words. The emphasis is on location and space, where up is down and down is up.”  

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As the weeks progressed the true breadth of the project dawned as Henry described recreating every canvas from the Picture Room in his studio to ensure the dimensions were exact. “It became as much about mathematics as it was about art”, he recalls. The project was bounced between London and Cape Town, through numerous emails and lengthy Skype calls, “and a few beers did the trick” add Karl and Ida.

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The most dramatic turn of the project came in the most unexpected form on the day of Henry’s shoot in Cavendish Square. After triumphantly shooting the panorama, Henry and his friend waiting in a nearby pub for their taxi to arrive. Slinging the equipment in the boot, they made their way back east. Pausing at a red traffic light, Henry suddenly realised that two motorcyclists had pulled up behind the taxi, popped the boot, and were about to make off with the camera equipment, memory cards and all. Reacting instinctively, Henry leapt out the passenger door and into the path of the motorbike, wrestling the camera from the robber’s grip. Incredibly, the thieves managed to get away with nothing.

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After such a journey, it was with great pride that we unveiled the installation at our launch party last Monday. Henry, Karl and Ida even created bespoke images to feature behind our cocktail menus. With cocktails & canapés flowing, all talk was focused on the star of the evening: the incredible artwork. We look forward to welcoming the whole team here in the new year to truly say thank you, share a beer and even a glass of South African whisky!

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Henry Thomas centre

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To reserve your table in our Picture Room installation call 0203 432 5150 or email info@megarobar.co.uk 

 www.henrythomasphotography.com 

www.megarobar.co.uk 

www.kandi.co.za

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Autumn/Winter 2013-14 Cocktail Collection

Introducing the Autumn/Winter cocktail selection at Megaro Bar.

Think summer but richer, deeper and all about flavour.

Birch & Bruks

Mackmyra Brukswhisky, birch sap reduction

The nights are creeping slowly in, we’re scrabbling about in the back of our cupboards for last year’s thermal vests. Winter is officially here, and nothing warms the soul on a chilly evening more than a whisky cocktail. And for this purpose we have the Birch & Bruks.

This cocktail features two unusual ingredients, Mackmyra Brukswhisky and birch sap reduction. Mackmyra is unique as Sweden’s first single malt whisky distillery. Situated in Gavle on the West coast of Sweden, Mackmyra was founded by 8 friends on a skiing trip in 1998. Utilising peat from the local bog Karinmossen for their smoky varieties, all the whiskies use only local, organic ingredients and are aged in a combination of matured bourbon casks and fresh Swedish oak. The result is a deliciously light and delicate flavour, with a hint of citrus.

To accompany the Brukswhisky we have developed a birch sap reduction. Sap is collected by drilling a hole in the birch tree, tying a bottle to the trunk and draining the sap into the bottle through a plastic tube. Across Russia, Scandinavia and Northern Europe it has traditionally be drank as a tonic and can also be made into birch beer. We reduce the sap at a ratio of 10:1 to achieve a rich, sweet flavour that enhances the floral and light notes of the Mackmyra.

Fig French 75

Fig infused Martell VSOP, lemon, gomme, Perrier Jouet

We have updated our take on the classic French 75 for winter to include Fig infused Martell VSOP Cognac. The original recipe for the French 75 is still disputed, with different accounts claiming cognac rather than gin was used as the base spirit. We personally think both versions are awesome. The addition of fig creates a truly autumnal cocktail, which is lightened by the Perrier Jouet.

 

Glory box

Somerset brandy 5yr, maraschino, lemon sherbet, dandelion & burdock

Glory box is a fantastic autumnal cocktail, and is a real celebration of quintessential British flavours. Rich, punchy and with a dry, almost perfumed aroma from the dandelion & burdock essence. The first written record of cider brandy, which is made by distilling cider, being distilled in Somerset dates back from 1676. However little is known about the tradition, as most production was done illegally to avoid taxation. Recently it has experienced a resurgence, with the Somerset Cider Brandy company at the helm.

Paired with the brandy is lemon sherbet, which originates from the Middle East, although most Britons will remember it as the boiled sweet from their childhood. The sherbet adds a tart, citric flavour that really lifts the rich flavour profile of the brandy. For good measure we’ve also added a couple of dashes of dandelion & burdock, a traditional English beverage. Originally a type of light mead, these days it is a non-alcoholic soft drink most commonly consumed as a squash.

And finally, to the name. What could be more fitting for a South Western English cocktail than to name it after a truly English band? Trip hop rose to popularity in the mid-1990s, with specific roots in Bristol. Heavily influenced by American hip hop, post-acid house and soul, funk and jazz movements, it has been described as “Europe’s alternative choice in the second half of the ‘90s”.

And at the forefront of this genre was Portishead, which took their name from the coastal Somerset town. Glory Box was a single from their Mercury Music Prize winning album Dummy, which is often named one of the iconic British albums of the nineties. Awesome cocktail. Awesome name.

Halloween at Megaro

We love a good pun at Megaro, and Halloween provides the ultimate excuse. Henceforth, may we present our Dial M for Mayhem Halloween night.

Featuring:

Death’s Door Corpse Reviver #2

Trick or Treat martini

Blood & Sand

Borsh Mary 1.2

Alongside a selection of devilish chef’s plates

Death’s Door Corpse Reviver #2

The ultimate cocktail for Halloween, the Corpse Reviver derives its name from its initial status as a hangover cure. It dates back to the 1930s and Harry Craddock’s The Savoy Cocktail Book, and is a stiff combination of Gin, lemon juice, lillet blanc, triple sec and absinthe. Reviving indeed. Especially for Halloween we shall be serving our with the aptly chosen Death’s Door gin. Named after the body of water between Door County peninsula and Washington Island (and not how it will make you feel the following day, we promise), it has a full London Dry flavour and is made from wheat and organic malted barley grown on Washington Island.

Trick or Treat Martini

In true Halloween style we shall also be serving Trick (vodka) or Treat (gin) Martinis. Accompanying your choice of poison will be our homemade chrysanthemum cordial, which represents the dead across many Catholic countries and is placed on graves on All Saints Day. Grim, eh?

Blood & Sand

The Blood & Sand takes its name from Rudolph Valentino’s 1922 Bullfighter movie of the same name. Rarely for its era it features Scotch whisky, accompanied by Martini Rosso, Cherry Heering and orange juice, lending it a suitably magenta hue. Ballsy, bloody and certainly suitable for raising the dead.

Borsh Mary 1.2

No Halloween cocktail list can be complete without a reference to the infamous Queen Mary I of England. Another favourite hangover cure, our Bloody Mary differs from traditional Bloody Marys in the fact that it uses a traditional Polish and Russian soup recipe instead of tomato juice. We’ve updated the recipe from our summer version to include beef stock to give it oomph, and using Siberian vodka Mamont. We also add our homemade hot sauce and a sprinkle of lovage salt to add depth. And the name? Mary I inherited the throne from her younger, Protestant brother Edward VI in 1553. During her brief 5 years as Monarch she set about returning Britain to Catholicism, and consequently burnt over 280 religious dissenters at the stake. Suitably ghastly we think.

 

Megaro Bar . Dial M for Mayhem. 0203 432 5150 . info@megarobar.co.uk . www.megarobar.co.uk

New chef’s plates at Megaro Bar

As we usher in a new season we also welcome a new collection of chef’s plates at Megaro Bar. We’re pretty excited about these new tasty little numbers, and they have been designed to complement our Autumnal house cocktail list, which shall begin on Monday 21st October.  

 

RAW salsify fritters, Cervelle de canut

Salisfy is a plant native to England that is cooked and consumed similarly to a root vegetable, and is noted for its oyster-like flavour. For our dish we turn the roots of the flowers into fritters, by first rolling them in semonlina, to create a slightly sweet flavour, and breadcrumbs, and then frying them. The result is a rich, textured snack perfect for autumn. They are accompanied by a traditional Lyonnaise dip Cervelle de Canut, which translates literally as the Silk Worker’s brain. Lyon was at the centre of French silk production during the 19th century, and it is contested that the dip is thought to be a reflection of the derisive attitude the aristocracy had to the working class during the period. The dip is made from walnuts, chives, chervil and fromage frais and has a herby, creamy and slightly tart flavour, which breaks through the rich batter of the fritters.

CURED Earl Grey salmon, vanilla, root beer jelly

We have replaced the scallop ceviche with green strawberries and almond for autumn with salmon that has been cured in Earl Grey, brown sugar and vanilla. The result is tender slices of salmon with a distinct tanic flavour with strong notes of bergamot. We use Bundaberg root beer to make the accompanying jelly because the ingredients blend perfectly with our cured salmon – liquorice root, sarsaparilla root and vanilla beans. Finally, a light sprinkle of red onion adds a refreshing crunch to the dish.

 

SMOKED Cods roe, compressed cucumber, fennel sand

Roe is consumed across the globe using a wide variety of fish, although in England it is primarily eaten as cods roe. It is made from the egg masses of the fish that are then blended into a mayonnaise. In our case the cod is first smoked, which adds an excellent rich, smoky flavour to the creamy dish. We then add a fennel sand on the top for added crunch, consisting of almonds, garlic and fennel seeds that are first blended and then baked in the oven. It is then served with compressed cucumber which is also lightly pickled to add a tart, citric flavour to cut through the richness of the roe.

 

SWEET Dark chocolate cremosa, sea salt, chocolate soil

To replace our insanely moreish honeycomb we have a dark chocolate cremosa. Cremosas, which literally translates as ‘creamy’ in Italian, are made similarly to a ganache, and consist of three parts custard and one part chocolate. It is accompanied by a chocolate soil, which is made using a traditional crumble recipe with the addition of chocolate powder. The dish is intensely rich and indulgent, with the Maldon sea salt lifting and lightening the cremosa. All this is then offset by the playful crunch of the chocolate soil. A real showstopper to complete a winter’s evening.

The Gin Act and Fifty Pounds Gin

When William of Orange, ruler of the Dutch Republic, assumed the throne with his wife Mary in 1688 he brought to England gin. Its popularity soared as William banned importing alcohol whilst unlicensed gin production remained legal. The population began distilling in abundance, and at the height of the Gin Craze one in five households distilled and sold gin.

The sudden proliferation of such a cheap, strong spirit caused a perceived epidemic of drunkenness, and gin was blamed as the root of many social ills. In 1736 parliament passed the Gin Act, forcing all premises selling gin to procure a license at £50. Only two licenses were ever taken out owing to their extortionate price, and gin production was driven underground. As a result the gin consumed drastically fell in quality, and large portions of society risked their lives drinking dangerous variations of the spirit, leading Daniel Defoe to threaten that drunken mothers would produce a “fine spindle-shanked generation” of children.

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Eventually outbreaks of violence against informers – who were paid £5 to give up illegal gin establishments – forced the abolishment of the Gin Act in 1742. The following Gin Act of 1751 was much more successful as it forced distillers to sell only to licensed retailers and brought gin shops under the jurisdiction of local magistrates. License fees also dropped to £10 a year, and coupled with the now profitable price of grain, the Gin Craze began to peter out by 1760.

Fifty Pounds Gin

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Soon after the Gin Act of 1736 a family of independent London Distillers came up with an original gin recipe, known ironically amongst themselves as Fifty Pounds in honour of the Gin Act levy. It is still produced in a small distillery in South East London, with a traditional distillation process dating two centuries. The secret combination of herbs and spices is distilled four times in a process known as Batch Process Distillation.

 Fifty Pounds at Megaro Bar

The result is a gin with a rich, bold flavour that tastes excellent in our Gin Act cocktails the Martinez and the Silver Fizz. “The character of Fifty Pounds gin balances perfectly with sweet vermouth and the bitter profile of the Martinez” explains our Headbartender Nico, “the drink is an endless classic that is dated almost a century after the Fifty Pound gin recipe was realised”. For a contrasting interpretation of Fifty Pounds he chose the Silver Fizz, “similarly this cocktail is really well balanced; it has a silky texture and is light and zesty, and tastes great when enjoyed as a pre-cocktail”.

Our Gin Act menu is running throughout this week and features a selection of specially priced Fifty Pounds cocktails. To reserve a table email info@megarobar.co.uk or call 0203 432 5150

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www.Megarobar.co.uk