Mark Ludmon visits Rich Hunt’s Mint Gun Club in London where tea and cocktails are on the menu. Pictures by Mark Arrigo
Rich Hunt has drawn on his 20 years’ experience as a bartender and a childhood spent in exotic climes to develop his bar, Mint Gun Club. Tucked away off Stoke Newington High Street in north-east London, it has the feel of a British ex-patriate club in a distant tropical country. Open from 3pm from Tuesday to Friday and from midday at weekends, it is a place to drop in for a beautifully served pot of high-quality tea and deli food, perhaps lingering for high tea with sweet and savoury treats plus some English sparkling wine, or enjoy an impeccably made aperitif cocktail as night draws on.
The bright tiny space, which seats up to 45 people, has been created by Rich and the team in the former site of craft beer bar Kaiser. For the interiors, he was inspired by his travels around the world, including places such as Bali, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam and China while still a child. Moroccan tiling, potted palms, white-painted shutters and tables made of strand-woven bamboo sit alongside Scandinavian comforts while Polynesian artefacts and the bar’s pineapple logo bring a touch of tiki – no surprise considering that Rich was head bartender at Mahiki and is a partner in Trailer Happiness in Notting Hill.
With a background that also includes London cocktail bars The Player, Match and Milk & Honey, Rich has put together an innovative cocktail menu, with an inclination for vermouth, sherry and amaro. The emphasis is aperitif-style drinks such as his version of sherry and vermouth classic, the Bamboo, combining a tarragon and coconut wine with fino sherry and peach bitters. Another classic, the gin-based Gimlet, is listed in a number of guises such as the Gun Club, made with the bar’s husk gin, infused with flambéed coconut, mixed with kaffir lime cordial and Wolfschmidt Kümmel.
All classics can be ordered – Old Fashioneds are popular – but original cocktails listed on the menu include the White Tiger’s Milk, inspired by another vintage recipe: its base is a blend of calvados and arrack plus cider aperitif, fermented kefir from almonds, chai spices and “peach milk” made from almond milk, peach kernels and peach extract. A list of tonics and sodas offers something lighter such as the May-blossom made with camomile and honeysuckle cordial, Cornish manuka honey, lightly fermented Darjeeling kombucha and gentian.
Rich, pictured above, is also building on his interest in tea, developing an extensive list of rare and single-estate teas and herbal tisanes, listed in a separate menu with tasting notes. The bar’s own blends include the Mint Gun Club with Nepalese black, gunpowder green and Malawi spearmint. “Tea fits quite naturally into it being an ex-patriate style of venue,” Rich explains. “You feel like you’re walking into an ex-patriate club from the past, with a clubby vibe where you can relax and feel comfortable.”
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Originally published in the December 2017 print edition of Bar magazine.