Victoria Purcell heads to The Shrub & Shutter in Brixton where cocktails and food are given an equal – and mighty fine – footing
Cocktail before dinner, three courses paired with fine wines and perhaps a digestif. That’s supposed to be the order of proceedings, right? But who has time for all that these days? We want decadence and we want it now, so let’s strip it all back to what really matters – great cocktails and great food. That’s exactly what you get at The Shrub and Shutter, the new cocktail bar in Brixton where drinks are paired with beautifully crafted bar snacks.
The front is predominantly for drinks, but there’s no bar, instead there’s a sort of mad scientist’s lab where cocktail makers buzz about a bench packed with spirits, mixers and herbs, and it’s all table service. Through the back it opens up to an unexpectedly roomy restaurant, where you can enjoy wild sea bass with crushed potatoes and a herb salad, or a rack of lamb with mash and root crisps.
The chef, Dan Knowlson, has fashioned a menu that caters to nibblers, full-on feasters and the inbetweeners. There’s a set menu where two courses will set you back £18, three £22, or you can just keep it casual with some snacks. A friend and I shared a delicious homemade mackerel pâté, the most beautifully presented charcuterie board I’ve ever laid eyes on with fennel and thin wisps of radish, and baked figs with ricotta, honey and pine nuts (delicious, but I would have welcomed a little more ricotta).
There cocktail list is innovative and fun, with names like The Owl and the Pussycat (gin, quince liqueur, celery bitters, plum sake, Baron de Sigognac, quince shrub and citrus) and You Can’t Handle Chartreuse (gin, Del Maguey Mezcal, yellow chartreuse, pineapple, lemon, elderflower and green chartreuse jelly). I can highly recommend both.
The Owl, a beautiful, smooth, sophisticated drink, comes with a mini cheeseboard, and Chartreuse, served in an upturned jelly mould, comes with gummy bears teetering overboard and a sprig of thyme. I also tried a Hail Caesar (gin, fresh tomato, pink grapefruit, hot sauce, lemon and seasoning), served with a crayfish dangling over the glass on a little bamboo stick fashioned into a fishing hook. The cocktail menu is long and complex, and there are specials too, so it looks like we’re going to have to spend a lot more time here. All in the name of research, of course…
Cocktails and small plates for two, around £50
Cocktail lovers and dinner with friends
What to eat…
If you don’t fancy dinner, do sample the charcuterie
What to know…
The bar is compact so book a table for drinks at weekends
336 Cold Harbour Lane, Brixton SW9 8QH; 020 7326 0643; theshrubandshutter.com