On a cold wintry night there are few places better to find yourself than a toasty, meat-heavy restaurant sitting atop Borough Market like a crown. Like many others, I believed Roast could be summed up by its roast rare-breed suckling pig Thursdays. And it can. However, there is something Roast offers that even vegans can enjoy. A wide variety of absurdly good cocktails. That is, if they don’t mind the wafts of slow roasted pork mingling with their Manhattans (personally, I couldn’t be happier with it).
I was invited along on this dark Monday night for a taste of Roast’s new cocktail master class and a general jaunt of their bar. My master class was skilfully led by Sebastian, the bar manager, who over the course of an hour took me through three cocktails and a brief history of quite a few others.
The bar itself is a small space within the restaurant with an expansive view over Borough Market. Though there are only a few seats at the bar itself I assume that the tables are also available to those more partial to a tipple than a hunk of meat. Or both. The sheer number of weird and wonderful bottles of alcohol lined along its shelves was quite astounding, equally so was the staffs’ surprisingly good knowledge of them.
Really though the only evidence you need of the quality of the cocktails at Roast is this: Roast, known for its decadently dripping meats, has a cook book. One quarter of a cook book devoted to meat is filled with Sebastian’s own cocktail inventions. That is how good they are.
So, for you, and for Sebastian, I feel it would be morally remiss of me not to quickly share at least two of the cocktail highlights of the night.
First then, the Manhattan. But not just any Manhattan – a Perfect Manhattan. If Goldilocks liked herself a Manhattan (and lets be honest it would make a lot of sense if she did) this is what she would have ordered. Not too dry, not too sweet, but just right. To achieve this, the Perfect Manhattan mixes of red vermouth and dry vermouth, bourbon, angostura with a cherry and orange peel sitting on top. The perfect drink for a fence sitter like myself. Why join the argument when you can laugh at it drunkenly from your bar stool?
For my last cocktail I let Sebastian choose. ‘Give me flair!’, I said. He chose a Candy Martini. I raised an eyebrow, only to have it unceremoniously lowered by the blowtorch he pulled out of a mirrored glass case with a dangerous glint in his eye. The sugar cube never had a chance. The drips of liquid glucose hissed and solidified as they hit the powerfully sweet concoction of pear syrup, cinnamon syrup and vanilla vodka. Its taste reminded me significantly of candy floss, crossed with fire-burnt marshmallows. Delicious, if a bit too pink.
Then just as he had appeared, Sebastian vanished, presumably to serve someone else. Had he ever existed? I couldn’t be sure. So sitting there, erring on drunk after my fourth drink (I snuck in an extra), with live music behind, a bustling restaurant in front and Borough Market below me I thought to myself, ‘this Roast bar needs a name. A separate name, to let everyone know that this cocktail paradise exists’. Then it came to me: Prost! You’re welcome Roast.
Masterclasses start from January and cost £45, which includes three cocktails, two bar snacks and an hour of drunken learning (the best kind).
The Floral Hall
Tel: 0845 034 7300