Beer and Tobacco Cocktails at London's The Big Smoke
Everyone loves a good BBQ. Whether you’re a committed carnivore who enjoys nothing better than barely cooked steak still dripping with blood, or a vehement vegetarian searching for the best grilled halloumi and vegetable skewers. But combining barbecuing with cocktails? A brave move, but one that the owners of The Big Smoke – a pop-up "Primo BBQ," used to create various smoked delights – at Fulham’s Elk Bar are undertaking with gusto.
To be fair, they’re not actually barbecuing drinks – that wouldn’t end well for anybody – but instead using traditional BBQ accompaniments – in the form of beer and tobacco – to create some truly unique cocktails. The first of these, the Ginger Bread Flip, starts Société Perrier off gently, with a mix of Meantime Pale Ale, Bacardi OakHeart spiced rum, ginger syrup, sours and ground nutmeg. The sweetness of the spiced rum gives a nice fruity, mildly citrus tang, while the pale ale offsets the richness of the rum and ginger. Although it could do with a touch more pale ale, it’s an enjoyable start.
Next up is the Tobacco-Infused Old Fashioned. As the name suggests, it’s a contemporary twist on the traditional combination of whisky, sugar, bitters and fruit, by using Jack Daniel’s and Perique tobacco-infused whisky. It strikes immediately with big, smooth flavors, before the tobacco whisky kicks in and leaves a smoky but subtle aftertaste, with a hint of ginger. The orange and cherry used in the drink also provide a pleasant fruit hit that counterbalances the differing oak flavours of both whiskies.
Finally, then, the Mad Dog. An aptly named beast of a cocktail featuring two bottles of upturned Sol in a giant frozen margarita. It’s quite a sight, and would almost be intimidating were it not for Société Perrier’s hardened cocktail credentials. Saying that, it’s definitely one for sharing, so bring a pal if you want to attempt it.
In fact, the Mad Dog turns out to be the highlight of the evening – turns out that beer and margarita make surprisingly cozy bedfellows. The highly sweet and zingy "margarita slushy" is tasty enough on its own, but actually works perfectly with the cleanness of the Sol pouring slowly into it, which levels out the acidity and results in a refreshing and very appealing concoction. It doesn’t take too long before what looked like an unfinishable drink is finished, with smiles all round.
Turns out that beer, tobacco and cocktails make surprisingly cozy bedfellows. Who knew?