Cocktails, pizza and jazz. Need I say more? Shall I just end it here? I know you’re already sold on the idea. Nevertheless let us continue.
Ray’s Bar in Dalston only opened last November, taking the place of the beloved club, Dance Tunnel. Located under its foodie older brother Voodoo Ray’s, the bar takes on a seventies vibe with late night openings making it the place to be for a midnight cocktail.
Last week Allyn and I took refuge from the midweek downpour to sample their new summer menu. Immediately the vibe was cool and cosy. Take a booth by the bar or a table by the stage, whichever takes your fancy. The menu is just that, split into 3 courses with an additional ‘after party’ ending.
I went chronologically, beginning with an aperitif known as Kokü. Served in an iced coupe glass, its lime green appearance was disguised by the bar’s warm lighting, topped with edible flowers upon a layer of frothy lemon scented egg white. From the first sip it gained a smile, a subtle warmth from a dash of Saké and Umeshu and an after note of floral violet. It was incredibly easy to drink, as comforting and sweet as your Nana’s perfume.
Allyn on the other hand went straight to the main, ordering a Hopscotch served in a whiskey tumbler. A stirred mix of Chivas 12 Scotch and hop syrup was complimented by a dash of lemon, so strong we could smell it before it was even placed in front of us. A flowery scent of elderflower is what really made this drink, giving this simply nice cocktail a sweeter, memorable twist.
For our second round, we both met at the after party, the last page of Ray’s cocktail menu where some drinks don’t even come out until midnight. I began with a Motor City Rum Ensemble, with a surprisingly elegant presentation. It mixed Havana 3 & 7, vermouth, lime, Cynar and date syrup in a cute, feminine glass.
If I’m honest this was perhaps my only disappointment. I anticipated a sweet date infused sip however was met with a very acidic Cuban rum, no sugary after taste to be found. It was extremely warming and contained a slight bitterness from the Cynar, but it was a grower. As the night went on I found myself enjoying each mouthful that little bit more.
Around 9.30pm, the weekly jazz band began to turn the soulful backing track into a live instrumental. Every Wednesday, saxophonist Rachael Cohen and her band Live at 95 play to the sound of the mixologist, offering up welcoming, unpredictable live jazz whilst you say ‘oh go on, just one more’. We felt like we’d slipped back a decade or few, albeit the modern day Dalston get up.
Our last tasting of the new menu lay in Allyn’s exotic selection, a Last Mango in Paris. A base of Havana 3 & 7, Plantation Overproof and Blue Curaçao set for a strong Caribbean feel, topped with lime, mango lassi and Orgeat syrup. It was surprisingly not as sweet as expected, but in a positive way. More refreshing than sickly, it transported us straight to the sand, a perfect choice for a reminiscent summer.
Ok. Time for pizza. Who can resist? From the bar you can order one of Voodoo Ray’s famous 22” bad boys but feel free to take yourself upstairs to grab a whopping huge slice for just £4. After a day of dieting I went for a Porky’s, living up to its name with a generous helping of Cumberland sausage, stilton and red onion. I think with every mouthful my love for it grew. By the last bite (scooping out the remains of my garlic mayo sauce), I was ready to propose.
Allyn went for some hot and spicy with the Hot Mix 5; pepperoni, jalapeños, red peppers. It blew my mouth off, but not so much his, just right I was told.
Resisting a second round of slice, we decided to call it a night. I could have easily sat there working my way through the rest of Ray’s menu, nodding along to improvised jazz beats but my sensibility respected the school night.
You can get 50% off the new cocktail menu at Ray’s Bar for just a few more nights until the 25th May, but to be honest, you won’t regret paying full price for these potions.
Our evening at Ray’s Bar was complimentary but as always, all views are my own, even when fed pizza.