Andy Gemmell’s Drinks Cabinet
The Iron Stag 45-47 Hoxton Square London
What is it: Back in August, Scottish restaurateur Adam Handling relocated his critically-acclaimed The Frog from Covent Garden to Hoxton Square in Shoreditch. Located in a basement, The Iron Stag is inspired by his Scottish heritage and mission to make whisky more approachable to the masses. The bar’s decor is probably best described as gentlemen’s club meets Scottish punk. Although it’s quite a big space it has a homey and relaxed vibe.
Interesting fact: At only 30 years old, Adam Handling has achieved a lot in his culinary career. At 16 he was Gleneagles Hotel’s first apprentice chef. He then moved around the country perfecting his craft before moving back to Scotland to become the youngest ever head chef at the Fairmont in St Andrews. As well as building up his own restaurant empire he has won several awards including the British Culinary Federation’s Chef of the Year in 2014.
The decor is of a gentlemen’s club meets Scottish punk. Although it’s quite a big space it has a homey and relaxed vibe
Verdict: While travelling I always seek out places that have a whisky focus. There are some great places around the world that champion our national spirit but most focus on the traditional aspects of Scotland and Scotch. At The Iron Stag they have created a fun and innovative way of enjoying Scotch whisky, and it is a breath of fresh air. Of course you can still have your “hauf and hauf” or just a dram, but the cocktails show that Scotch can be fun and enjoyed in a modern and delicious way. I have definitely found my new hangout whenever I’m in the capital, especially as it’s only a stone’s throw from Black Rock, another favourite whisky bar.
Drink: The drinks list is clearly designed to change people’s perceptions of whisky and the menu sounds amazing but if I had to choose one, I’d suggest trying the Sour Face, a mix of black cherry, Monkey Shoulder, plum and verjus, topped with dry ginger soda.
Food: The bar snack menu is outstanding and everything on it is delicious. I would implore you to order the cheese doughnuts and then try not to order another portion instantly.
Perfect for: Hanging out after work with friends or colleagues for a few beers or cocktails and snacks.
Avoid if: Whisky is just not your thing – though there are plenty of other drinks here to choose from.