The Sun Tavern in Bethnal Green

This post isn’t about martinis but I wanted to tell you about a cool bar I visited in East London, as well as the wonder that is Irish Poitín.


I nipped into an Irish bar in Bethnal Green for a quick drink with some friends from Latvia and Lithuania. (Take that Brexit, we’ve got no place for your xenophobia on this blog).

Apart from a drunk, ignorant stag party from Liverpool chanting OutOutOut (a braying but ominously tinged with racism call of the Brexiteers), and a response chant of InInIn by the assembled London drinkers (our own Les Marseillaise scene from Casablanca) it was a thoroughly enjoyable experience.

The bar caught my eye from the outside. I hadn’t pre-planned the trip or scouted it out on Foursquare or anything. It just looked visually appealing, with lots of nice, rough-hewn wooden and metal furnishings.

The staff were very knowledgeable and attentive; hipsterish/trendy but not twatty. We sat at the bar so we could chat, interact and admire their extremely wide drink selection.

It was then that we stumbled upon their Poitín menu.


Poitín is an Irish spirit that I have heard a lot about, but had never tried. So we jumped right in.

Typically ranging in strength from 40-90% (yes you read that right – God bless you Ireland) it was illegal for centuries, not because of its strength, but because it couldn’t be regulated – and taxed. When farmers harvested crops such as cereals or beets the produce would be checked or removed so those pesky peasants couldn’t brew up their own illicit booze. Damn you big government! Apparently it was therefore often made from milk, because despite the confiscation of harvested vegetables, even the poorest families had cows to milk on a regular basis. So they would ferment and distill the milk to create this clear and absolutely intoxicating liquid wonderment and get absolutely shit-faced in defiance of the authorities, for hundreds of years.


Served as a chaser with some light lager or a pale ale (I preferred the lager) I was amazed at the smooth, fruity and refined text and texture of the drink. It was like a super-charged sake, or shochu in its purity but with a more complex interplay of taste and texture sensations that moved through the whole mouth. I didn’t mix it with water or ice. It was quite fiery but the follow-up sensation was one of extreme warmth moving down my tongue the way phosphorescence glides down the body of a squid in tropical water at night. It was quite the experience. My friends and I tried several different varieties. Even the 90% version, while having the potential to blow our heads off, was quite smooth and gently warming. It was a lovely treat.


Although I didn’t try anything else, the bar also does a range of cocktails, including bloody Mary’s and even one of my favourite drinks: The Michelada.

I was also a fan of the overall vibe and decor. So if you’re in Bethnal Green, give it a go. And if you’re not, get yourself over there for a good night! Just don’t plan too many activities for the next morning…

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Some other spirits

What do you drink after you’ve consumed two martinis? You don’t want to break the Two Martini Rule. Here is a selection of spirits that you can drink without adding a mixer.

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Smokey, velvety Mezcal from Oaxaca, Mexico. ¡Salud!

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Kirchwasser, cherry schnapps from Germany. Prost!

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Deep, dark, rich, herbal and smoky, this is Balsams from Latvia. Priekā!

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Some schnapps from Sweden. Skål!

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And finally my Dad’s Speyside Malt. With a spaniel. Cheers!

A hot drink for a cold

Two days later and I’m still sick, at home, restless but lethargic at the same time. So here is a post about a hot drink I made to try and alleviate some of my cold symptoms.

You will need:
-Lemon
-Ginger
-Garlic
-Hot water
-Turmeric (optional)
-Chilli flakes (optional)
-Whisky or brandy or rum (optional)

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Take a piece of ginger around the size of your thumb. Use a spoon to scrape off the skin.

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Use a Japanese grater (one of my favourite kitchen utensils) and grate the peeled ginger to release all the juice. Squeeze out then discard the fibrous pulp.

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Pour the fiery ginger juice into a cup.

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Juice a lemon and add the juice to the mug.

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Peel then coarsely cut a single clove of garlic. Add the pieces to the cup.

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Add 1-2 teaspoons of honey.

Then, depending on your preferences you can add one or more or none or all of the following:

-1/2 a teaspoon of turmeric powder
-A pinch of chilli flakes
-A dash of whisky, brandy or rum

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It looks fairly alarming.

Top up with hot water, just off the boil, and stir to dissolve the honey and let the flavours diffuse into the drink.

Sip it slowly and be sure to eat/swallow the garlic. Yes it may give you very strong breath but if you’re feeling sick you should be in quarantine anyway.

A festive Advocaat and lemonade

At Christmas time, and Christmas time only, my family partake of a ‘snowball’ cocktail. It is a typical winter warmer made with the Dutch drink Advocaat. Advocaat is a blend of whisky, sugar and egg nog, all of which are good winter ingredients.

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Mix equal parts of Advocaat and lemonade in a glass (we usually use a Paris goblet), stir then serve.

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It’s simple and sweet and has a very distinctive flavour. The velvet texture of the Advocaat also contrasts nicely with the foamy lemonade layer on top. It’s perfect for when you’re opening presents, or after a large Christmas meal.

Spherical ice

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I treated myself to some spherical ice moulds. Despite them having the appearance of something extravagant, they were actually quite cheap.

I bought them online from Tovolo/Amazon for about £9 and they were delivered within a couple of days. On arrival I eagerly filled them with water and put them in the freezer.

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The finished effect is quite dramatic. The ice also takes a long time to melt, so it cools your drink without diluting it.

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Although note that you will need a glass at least 7cm wide. A heavy whisky tumbler would be ideal.

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The only glass I had to hand that was big enough was a martini glass. Nonetheless, it was quite fun to use.

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Hmm. Who does this remind me of?

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Oh yes. David Bowie with his crystal balls (and overly tight trousers) in the 1980s film Labyrinth.