The Cutler Bar, London

The Cutler Bar at SushinhoUnderneath new City of London restaurant Sushinho is a cocktail lounge headed by ex-Merchant Hotel bartender Chris Strong

The cocktail scene in the City of London is being stirred up by new arrivals such as The Old Bengal Bar and Sushisamba and the relaunched Anise. The latest addition is The Cutler Bar in the basement of Brazilian-Japanese restaurant Sushinho, part of the redeveloped 18th-century warehouse in Devonshire Square opposite Liverpool Street station. It is the second Sushinho from Paul McKenna and Oliver Girardet who opened their first in Chelsea in 2008.

On the ground floor, the restaurant offers contemporary cuisine under Brazilian-born executive chef Joni Viscardi, blending “Japanese finesse with Brazilian flair” to create bold and vibrant flavour combinations. Downstairs, the team at the 75-capacity Cutler Bar aim to be just as inventive and innovative. The bar is headed by manager Chris Strong (pictured below), an award-winning bartender who has joined after four years in the world-class bar at The Merchant Hotel in Belfast.

Japanese and Brazilian flavours can be seen in the original cocktails on the menu, such as the Sakerinha, made with Akashi-Tai Honjozo sake, ruby grapefruit juice and house-made passion fruit cordial, and the Umeshu, which combines Hendrick’s Gin with ume plum cordial, lychee syrup, lemon juice, pomegranate juice and cane syrup.
Priced around £9.50 each, the cocktails include twists on the classics such as a Shinkoku Sling which mixes Hayman’s London Dry Gin, Hayman’s Sloe Gin, Cherry Heering, apricot eau de vie, lime juice, cane syrup, ginger extract and aromatic bitters. A classic Penicillin is made with Talisker 10-year-old and Glenfarclas 105 whiskies plus fresh ginger extract and honey syrup, while the Mango Spiced Margarita mixes Akashi-Tai’s plum-infused sake Shiraume Umeshu and shichimi powder with Ocho blanco tequila.

Champagne cocktails, priced £11.50 to £14.50, include a Jimmy Roosevelt, combining Courvoisier VSOP, Green Chartreuse, “eau du thé syrup” and aromatic bitters, topped up with house champagne Thiénot Brut. Chris says he is drawing on his experience at The Merchant Hotel and other bars in Belfast as well as time working in New York City. “My aim is to create a fun and vibrant drinking experience, serving up the best-quality drinks made from homemade ingredients and expertly sourced products.”

The extensive selection of sprits includes 12 varieties of Brazil’s national spirit, cachaça, and 17 types of sake, served warm or chilled, including Ozeki Karatamba Honjozo and Urakasumi Blue Label Ginjo while the beers are Japanese: Asahi Super Dry and Kirin Ichiban. The wine list boasts bins from across the globe including 14 by the glass and “small batch” varieties such as Lidio Carraro Dádivas from Brazil. Aperitivo-style bar snacks include shichimi baby squid, wasabi prawns, moqueca ceviche and cassava chips with chipotle mayo.

Sushinho’s interior has been created by leading hospitality design company Macaulay Sinclair, which has devised a sleek lounge feel for The Cutler Bar. Reclaimed driftwood wall cladding and bronze-painted cruciform cast-iron columns contrast with the smooth chocolate-coloured walls, creating a subtle backdrop for the illuminated ochre Amberlite stone-fronted bar. Exposed timber beams and metallic decorative plaster wall coatings are warmed by restrained, atmospheric lighting and vibrant olive leather banquette seating from Craftwood Interiors around the edge of the room.

The ethos of Sushinho and The Cutler Bar, from the food to the cocktails, is represented by a quote at the front of menu from the Brazilian writer Paulo Coelho: “Be brave. Take risks. Nothing can substitute experience.”

The Cutler Bar, Sushinho, Unit 9a Devonshire Square, London EC2M 4AE
Tel: 020 7220 9490

Chris Strong

Who did it
Design: Macaulay Sinclair
Main contractor: du Boulay Contracts
Fixed seating: Craftwood Interiors
Leather: Wildman & Bugby
Furniture: Sitraben
Amberlite bar front: Translucent Creations
Lighting: The Light Corporation
Wood flooring: The Natural Wood Floor Co
Stone flooring: Prospec Tiles
Encaustic wall tiles: Mosaic Del Sur
Electrical: DPS Electrical
Joinery: Carlisle Joinery

Originally published in the April 2013 issue of Bar magazine.

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