Back in 2016 was when I first reviewed Arcane – I rather enjoyed it. Mismatched furniture reminiscent of your nan’s front room, a sixties style sofa, music from not much later. It was quirky, fun and the cocktails hinted at a bit of brilliance.
Since then, Arcane has grown up a bit. The sofas are gone, there’s a little Victoriana and more seating. Oh and it’s a bit lighter, meaning the photos are much more discernible than the ones from the original review.
Even more importantly, there’s a new menu. Along with the refinement of the venue that’s happened over the last couple of years, the cocktails have just gotten better and better. There’s always been a little spark of something – I mean anywhere that did a Sage and Onion Daiquiri was always going to grab my attention, but now that spark has been harnessed, finessed and simply, it’s a bloody good cocktail bar.
And I couldn’t be happier.
The menu is divided into four styles of cocktail: Punch, Highballs and Cobblers, Sours, and Bitter Slings. Determined to work our way through each category, my date and I dove in.
My first was Silver Figs – Virtuous Bitter Lemon Vodka, Esprit de Figues, Cranberry, Lime, Demerara, Egg White, Soda. Soft, round, fluffy, it was a good introduction to their menu for the cooler months, the fig liqueur balances out the acidity with a soft autumnal sweetness.
My date went for the Champagne Cobbler – Luxardo Maraschino, Triple Sec, Champagne, Seasonal Fruits. The latter is changed often, and this time featured clementines and bay, and made it gently sharp, the fizz from the Champagne top giving it a sherbet fizziness. I can’t wait to see what will be on the menu next time.
Two sections of the menu down, I leapt into possibly my favourite section of the menu, Bitter Slings for my next, The Remington – Wild Turkey 101 Bourbon, Wild Turkey Rye Whiskey, Cider Reduction, Angostura Bitters, Black Walnut Bitters. Oh it’s good. There are bitter chocolate notes, hints of cinnamon, and the cider reduction balances everything off, lightening it and meaning that it would be a perfect introduction to whisky for the non-whisky drinkers. For those who love a whisky, it’s just a fantastically well balanced drink.
My date’s second choice was the Arrack Punch with Ceylon Arrack, Vanilla Rooibos, Grapefruit, Lime, Demerara, Rosewater. Arrack is a South Asian spirit, that uses the sap of the coconut flower in it’s production, and is then aged in Sri Lankan Halmilla wood. The result is something that has hints of a whisky about it, but with more nutty, malty notes to it and a slightly bitter aftertaste. This emphasised the nuttiness, whilst balancing the bitterness with the citrus and finishing with a little floral note.
My third cocktail (yes it was one of those nights) was the The English Milk Punch – featuring Lapsang Souchong infused Tin Cup Whisky, Ginger infused Honey, Lemon Juice, Angostura Bitters, Milk. The smoky nuttiness of this, with the slight sour notes was everything I’d hoped for, whilst my dates Asta Nielsen with Aalborg Taffel Akvavit, Hayman’s Sloe Gin, Apricot Brandy, Lemon had a boiled sweet note that had me racking my brain for what it was. As I write, I have finally but my finger on it, blackcurrant and liquorice.
Arcane has grown up into a proper little destination cocktail bar, and I can’t wait to go back – there’s a lot on the menu I’ve yet to try.