With ingredients such as mango chutney, cardamom, pea puree and kaffir lime, the cocktails at Anise bar in the City of London are clearly the work of bartenders who have access to the kitchen of an Indian restaurant. The bar is part of Cinnamon Kitchen, the modern Indian restaurant headed by executive chef Vivek Singh, but it has been relaunched as a stand-alone destination cocktail bar.
Revamped by Rory Cashin Design with artwork by Gayle Chong Kwan, it now has its own dedicated entrance and staircase as well as additional standing tables and an extended dance area. Also new is its bar manager, Ben Newton-Syms (pictured), who has joined from London bar operator Drake & Morgan where he looked after cocktails across the six-strong estate.
“Our cocktails have a classic grounding but we’re taking great produce and exciting flavour combinations and lifting them to even higher heights with subtle spicing inspired by our less noisy neighbour,” he explains in the new drinks menu introduced after his arrival.
Signature cocktails include the surprisingly delicious Calcutta Cuppa (pictured) – surprising because one of the ingredients is mango chutney. The chutney is reduced to a viscous liquid and shaken with Broker’s Gin, Assam tea and fresh lemon juice, served in a Martini glass.
The Persian Rose is a Martini-style drink, made with Stolichnaya vodka, lychee liqueur, pistachio syrup and rosewater spritz. Pistachio – which is grown all over Asia – is also used in the Almond & Pistachio Sour, mixed with Buffalo Trace bourbon, Disaronno amaretto and fresh lemon.
Cinnamon Kitchen and Anise are part of a complex of historic buildings that were once warehouses for the East India Company, which imported spices and other food and drink into Britain for nearly 300 years until the mid 19th century. (A nearby building has just been revamped by D&D London into the Old Bengal Warehouse.)
This heritage is reflected in the Old East Indian cocktail, which mixes Pierre Ferrand Cognac with Antica Formula vermouth, Pierre Ferrand Dry Curaçao, pineapple juice and bitters. The Polo Club Daiquiri uses Plantation 3 Stars white rum, launched earlier this year by Cognac Ferrand, mixed with peppermint tea, fresh lime and muddled celery.
Cocktails are priced around £7.50 to £8.25 which Ben says is part of their intention to provide good quality but also value for money. At the same time, Anise has dropped price promotions such as its two-for-one happy hour, focusing on the quality of its drinks, bar food, music and atmosphere to bring in the crowds.
While Asian beers Cobra and Tiger are on the menu, Anise also specialises in bottled premium beers such as London Lager and London Stout from Meantime Brewing in Greenwich as well as Brewers & Union Unfiltered Lager, which is brewed in Bavaria in Germany by a South African-based collective.
Being linked to a top-notch restaurant, Anise can offer high-quality bar food, including the chef’s speciality of pizza-like Chicken Tikka Nanza, which is a naan bread baked with a topping of spicy chicken tikka, red onions, herbs and cheese.
Geared towards sharing, other dishes include the popular Punjabi Fish Fingers made with deep-fried tilapia fish in spiced batter with a green pea relish. The Galouti Lamb Sliders are three mini grilled lamb burgers with three different toppings, while other small plates include chilli paneer, spiced lentil fritters and crispy potato wedges seasoned with chilli.
Three years on from the opening of the Cinnamon Kitchen, the changes at Anise look set to move it out of the shadow of the restaurant and establish it as a destination for drinks in its own right.
Anise, 9 Devonshire Square, London EC2M 4YL Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Tel: 020 7626 5000 www.cinnamon-kitchen.com/Anise