Meet Your Mixologist(s): La Bodega Negra
Mix a sizzling Mexican bar/restaurant, a group of talented mixologists who also happen to be long-time friends and a bar stocked with the best tequilas and mezcals, and you get London's La Bodega Negra. Nestled down the stairs from a sex shop, this cavernous cocktail destination is a must-see. Restaurant manager Neil Rivington and the spirired group of mixologists responsible for the bar — Davide Venturino, Stewart Hall, Dominic Manaje and Nicholas Quattroville — all bring different tastes, backgrounds and areas of expertise to to create La Bodega Negra's delectable cocktail menu.
Although the dynamic group has been running the show at La Bodega Negra for only a few months, they've embarked on a big mission: to make London imbibers fall in love with mezcal and tequila. The cocktail list is authentic Mexican with only one vodka cocktail on the menu. "We are trying to introduce the world to Mezcal and tequila and by making cocktail with them you can introduce it guest's palette's easier," says Quattroville. It helps that the men live and breathe cocktails. "It's not just a job, it's a lifestyle," says Rivington when talking about mixology. "You take your work home with you."
Their margarita has a refreshing spin as it's made with Casa De Oro Blanco, lemongrass and ginger, lime, creme de apricot, jalapeño and a dash of bitters.The drinks are refreshing and have an unexpected kick at the finish. A mezcal cocktail with a bubble gum-like (but in a good way), cranberry, rhubarb and mezcal had out taste buds tingling. The spirits list is extensive and the mixologists are open to creating anything to suit your tastes.
"Making drinks is as experimental as food," says Quattroville. That's why the mixologists at La Bodega Negra prefer to listen to their customers and create tailor-made cocktails. "We give them the menu but once we take it away we say, 'let's just have a talk' to find out what exactly they are looking for," says Quattroville.
Each of the mixologists adds a bit of their own personality into their drinks and since they are such a close-knit group they can actually identify each other's favorite drinks. Venturino says of Quattroville, "he doesn't like too many ingredients, so I make him a classic like a Sazerac, an Old Fashioned or a Manhattan. Something with only three ingredients, sugar, bitter and the spirit." Everyone agrees in unison that Hall would like soemthing served in a pineapple or at the very least something more "South of the border" like a Daiquiri. Manaje likes his drinks fruity and creamy, like Piña Colada. Rivington would want a simple Tequila Martinez and for Venturino color is key. "He would drink anything white, green or blue, it just needs to have a different color," says Rivington.
La Bodega Negra is making a name for itself not just for people who like cocktails but also being a bartender's bar."Every barentender in the area loves coming here," says Rivington. "Not just to drink beer but to have cocktails, it shows that we are good at what we are doing."
So the next time you are in London head to La Bodega Negra for a night of good eats and even better drinks. The motto behind the bar can be likened to haute cuisine. "We promote good drinking — like fine dining but with us it's fine drinking," says Quattroville.
Top image by Rana Good. Cocktail Image by Gourmet Traveller