Merchant House champions gin, rum and mercantile history

Merchant House

Nate Brown and Lewis Hayes have created a bar championing gin, rum and the history of merchant London

After making an impact running the gin bar at the City of London Distillery (COLD), The London Bar Consultants have opened their own bar. Nate Brown and Lewis Hayes have drawn on their bartending expertise and passion for spirits and cocktails to create Merchant House, tucked away down an alley in the City of London, close to St Paul’s.

At the entrance is the bar’s shop front – a small ground-floor space set up for master classes. But head down the stairs and it opens up into a large bar with an interior design that mixes traditional and contemporary, from dark wooden panels, flooring and tables to rich blue leather upholstery.

For the design, Nate and Lewis worked with Tilmann Schäufele, founder and managing director of Nomos Architecture and Property Development. They were inspired by London’s mercantile history and the spices and other exotic goods that have passed through the city over the centuries. “We drew on the all-time companions of old money: massive dark wood and rich leather,” Tilmann points out. “The dark wooden panels of your seat finish just above eye height, sheltering you like a yacht in a harbour, while the centre-stage bar stands prominent, visible from every corner of the venue like a lighthouse.”

While Lewis and Nate specialised in gin at COLD Bar, they have widened Merchant House’s packed back bar to encompass the flavours and spirits that have played a part in mercantile history. While they still stock around 250 different gins, there is an impressive range of rums. “The fascinating shared trade history of gin and rum is something we wish to celebrate with our guests through an exploration of fine spirits,” Nate adds.

The 130-capacity bar is also a place to explore fine cocktails, with a team able to make any classics to order, particularly Daiquiris and Martinis. A short list of original cocktails made with rum and gin includes an Old Fashioned recommended with rum or gin as a substitute for the whiskey, at £16.50. Other cocktails, at £12.50, include the Lola Flores, combining rum with sherry, raspberry and pineapple, and the Shylock, mixing rum with dry cider, mint vermouth and peppermint.

With gin, options include The Merchant, mixing it with coffee, spices and almond, and the Statesman, combining it with ginger, honey and a pale ale. One twisted classic is the Admiral Gimlet with navy-strength gin, house lime cordial and lime essence. The well-stocked bar also allows numerous options for exploring a gin and tonic and a rum and soda. Nate adds: “We want the focus at Merchant House to be the guest experience, from the moment they are greeted at the door to the master classes, cocktails and interactions with our bartenders.”

Merchant House, 13 Well Court, London EC4M 9DN
Tel: 020 7332 0044

Who did it
Nomos Architecture and Property Development
Carpentry: Drakes Bar Furniture
Flooring: Karndean
Stainless steel equipment: Nelson Catering

Originally published in the September 2014 print edition of Bar magazine.

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