Following the new appointment of Sam Orrock (ex-Scout, ex-Peg + Patriot) as Bar Manager, we check out Adam Handling’s Eve Bar to see what temptations lie in wait in the revamped cocktail menu.
With his Biblically-inclined first name and a well-documented rebellious streak, it was only a matter of time before Adam Handling opened a bar called Eve. Located in Covent Garden under his flagship restaurant, Frog by Adam Handling, it seems only fitting that you can only access Eve by descending down a dark staircase, illuminated by a red neon light encouraging you to “Resist Everything Except Temptation”.
As you enter, it becomes clear that they have not been subtle with the reference to Original Sin. Branches hang from wall lamps made from pages of books, that in turn shine down on floating books holding apples, getting literal with the whole “Tree of Knowledge” analogy. A stained-glass style artwork depicting a naked Eve (save for a blindfold and modesty foliage), tattooed with the word “Sinner”, faces the bar, with more Eve-with-apple sculptures throughout the space and ecclesiastic mirrors in the bathroom. These design choices may lack nuance but they come together with the dark wooden floors, peacock blue banquettes and puffs, and accents of candlelit copper to create a suave and sexy subterranean bar in keeping with Adam’s other establishments.
On entering, we’re welcomed to take a pew by Luigi Valentino and Tiago Vasconcelos, both previously of Adam’s Hoxton bar, Iron Stag (which is currently undergoing a concept change from whisky cocktail bar to comedy club). The pair has an easy rapport and slick mixology moves, making us feel quickly at ease.
We peruse Sam Orrock’s newly updated menu, which is divided into Eve bar “Signature Serves” and the devils you know, classic cocktails with a gentle twist. Our eye is caught by the first drink on offer – Adam’s Apple (Apple-infused Patron Añejo tequila, Bombay Sapphire gin, cherry bark, aperitif wine, apple oils; £12). The drink is zero-waste, using apple offcuts from the kitchen upstairs and arrives in an impossibly slender-necked wine glass. It is light and refreshing with a gentle syrupy texture and a boozy warmth coming in like a perceptive afterthought. The fullness of the apple and aperitif wine fruitiness draw out the sweet yet vegetal agave character of the tequila. Bombay Sapphire quells any would-be over sweetness with its herbal, floral and citric notes, resulting in a beautifully crafted cocktail.
A Woodford Reserve Rye Manhattan (£12) is next up and is a faultless classic. Vaguely bark-like on the nose with a regal and balanced profile, it is a solid slow-sip choice.
Seeing as we are under an Adam Handling restaurant, it would be remiss to not mention the bar food, which (as you’d expect) is far removed from your bowl of nuts or packet of Walkers crisps. Confronted with way too much exciting choice, we elect to sample the majority of the menu.
Delicately flavoured Razor Clams (£7.50) with tiny crunches of raw apple come dramatically served over billowing dry ice, whilst Venison Tartare (£7.5) comprises two punchy tapioca and nori crackers, topped with powerfully flavoured venison, scallop roe and lovage emulsion.
Béchamel-filled Cheese Doughnuts (£6), finished with grated Parmesan are an unsurprising bestseller (be careful when you bite into them or you’ll be walking away covered in sauce), however for us, the clear winner is the Crab & Kimchi Tart (£8). Incredibly thin, delicate, crisp pastry houses lightly spiced kimchi Béchamel, laced with flakes of meaty crab. Tōgarashi seasoning and black sesame seeds complete the offering to deliver a truly sumptuous and decadent morsel.
Snacks seen-off, Luigi comes by to ask if we need help deciding our next drinks. We put ourselves in his hands and are rewarded with two similar cocktails – his version of the La Louisiane, featuring beetroot-infused Woodford Rye, and Remember The Maine. Both are exceedingly well-balanced however whilst Luigi’s Louisiane is boozy and complex, benefitting from beetroot’s rounded sweetness tempering rye spice and other aniseed elements working with vermouth’s bitterness, Remember The Maine is lighter and easier on the palate.
Eve is a wonderful escape from the hellishly touristic Covent Garden Market that lies mere metres away. With its covetable drinks and panderous bartenders, it’s a great choice for those who find themselves in the area post-work or pre-dinner and want to be tempted by a moreish cocktail or two.
Eve Bar, 34 Southampton Street, London, WC2E 7HF