Andy Gem­mell’s Drinks Cab­i­net

The Iron Stag 45-47 Hox­ton Square London

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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.

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