We do not subscribe to Dry January, but if you’ve got a pal that insists, we’ve found just the bar to please you both. Launched by chef Adam Handling last year, Iron Stag is a cosy subterranean bar with an emphasis on whisky based cocktails AND a plethora of cracking booze-free Seeplip cocktails to boot. Win, win!
Located on Hoxton Square, underneath The Frog, the bar is a collaboration between Matt Whiley (aka Talented Mr Fox and owner of Scout) and Rich Woods (aka The Cocktail Guy). Once you make your way down the pitch black stairs the door will open out onto a sexy low-lit bar, big enough for big groups or canoodling couples alike. To the right of the bar you’ll find a few booths, each with its own individual tap for you to order a keg of pre-batched cocktail for the gang. Pretty cool right?
We settled into a humongous leather sofa and put all our faith in the awesome bartenders – which turned out to be the right move because every drink we tried was an absolute winner. They’ve got some pretty exciting equipment here so are regularly playing around with new techniques. The menu is split into three sections – ‘whisky & soda’, ‘whisky fix’ and the creatively titled, ‘other’. Alongside this, each week you’ll find three specials – whilst we were there these were champagne themed for New Year’s.
We kicked things off with the silky smooth Supersoaker which combines watermelon Woodford Reserve whiskey, vermouth and Campari sugar for a fruity take on the Manhattan. My teetotal guest was well looked after with a booze-free strawberry and thyme concoction. The Ja’crispy Vulcano was an exciting little fella, a blend of dark chocolate Sailor Jerry and corn silk tea, it’s topped with a charred stem of baby corn. Not your average garnish, but this isn’t your average bar.
In case you haven’t a clue where to start, you’ll find a glassware image next to each serve – determining the short and strong from the fresh and long. Handy!
Of course all that booze deserves the very best bar snacks, and Iron Stag deliver with a menu intended to be eaten with your hands. Cheese doughnuts are every bit as excellent as they sound – three (yep, you’ll have to fight over one) cheesy puffs have been filled with melted cheese and covered with a snow-like layer of parmesan. It’s the stuff dreams are made of. The ‘Fat Bastard’ section is where you’ll find their small but perfectly formed sliders. Choose from the likes of fish finger and pickles, buttermilk chicken with kimchi or lamb fritter with harissa.