London’s newest speakeasy, Moonshine Minnie, opened last night under The Blues Kitchen Shoreditch. Sated headed on down to the launch to see what the new bar had to offer.
We’ve been to The Blues Kitchen Shoreditch a fair number of times but as we enter through the front door, we realise that we have no idea where the entrance to the basement – now housing Moonshine Minnie’s – is. Luckily, help was on hand and the door staff guided us through to the back of the venue and down a set of stairs to the left of the caravan seating area.
On entering, we could immediately feel a difference in atmosphere from the upstairs venue. Relaxed, open and more of a sit-down affair, Moonshine Minnie’s speakeasy vibe allows for chilled drinks with friends in a lively space where you don’t have to shout to be heard. Everywhere we look there is a new oddity to fixate on from large model penguins erected between the booze behind the bar to a bearded, suspender-wearing figurine and a ship’s figurehead holding a bottle marked “Poison”. The ceiling is covered in gorgeous stained-glass panels and walls are lined with heavy ropes. Curved banquettes at the sides allow for larger groups to squirrel themselves away whilst high tables throughout the bar put drinkers at the heart of the action.
We make our way to the bar and peruse the menu, which has been split into “House Drinks” and “Minnie’s Whiskey Drinks” (most priced at £9.50). We start with a Burnt Pear Old Fashioned (Burnt pear Maker’s Mark, Apple Liqueur, Angostura Bitters) and a Whiskey Sour (Four Roses, Lemon juice, Egg white, Angostura Bitters). A crisp slice of pear garnishes the Old Fashioned, adding a darkly caramel syrupiness to the classic, whilst the Whiskey Sour is balanced, refreshing and easy drinking.
As we sip on our whiskey cocktails, trays of bar snacks come around, featuring spicy Szechuan Chicken Wings (that are closer to Buffalo than Szechuan but that are still darn tasty), gorgeous Smoked Ox Cheek Nuggets with tangy Chipotle mayo, Cajun Popcorn Squid and Padron Peppers (each priced £6.50-7.50). The morsels work brilliantly with the drinks and we could happily munched away on them all night long.
Once we’ve licked our fingers clean, we head on back to the bar for more cocktails. This time, we elect to try the Bourbon Espresso Martini (Four Roses, Fresh Espresso, Kahlua, Frangelico), the Sazerac (Sazerac Rye, Antica Formula, Absinthe, Peychaud Bitters) and, through a happy accident of the bartender not hearing our drink request correctly, the Marmalade Cup (Four Roses, Grapefruit Liqueur, Lemon Juice, Marmalade, Egg white, Sage, peach Bitters). The martini is delicious and smooth with the sweetness of the whiskey rounding off the coffee whilst retaining a bit of a bite. The Sazerac is a little on the light side but quaffable, whilst the Marmalade Cup is fruity and bright.
As we finish off our drinks, we notice that the music is set to the perfect volume, creating a great ambiance without being too loud. Our ruminations are cut short with the arrival of Deep-Fried Oreo Donuts served with salted caramel dip. They turn out to be as divine and decadent as they sound, and are the perfect ending to an enjoyable evening.
With good cocktails, great food and happy vibes, this lovely new den has made the most of an otherwise underused private space and is set to become an excellent post-work and pre-gig drinking spot (with live music kicking off upstairs at 10:30pm).
Moonshine Minnie’s, 134-146 Curtain Rd, London EC2A 3AR