A hidden bar has opened just off Fleet Street that is set to reclaim Ireland and the Scottish coastline as the true homeland of whiskey. With over 500 whiskies, Merchant House of Fleet Street abandons any preconceived ideas about whiskey, serving up fresh and floral cocktails in a light and contemporary space. Rejecting the power of labels, the menu focuses all the enjoyment of the spirit onto the flavors within the bottle.
Merchant House of Fleet Street is the second bar from the award-winning Merchant House Group, created by Nate Brown and Lewis Hayes, who are also co-founders of The London Bar Consultants Ltd., a pioneering international drinks consultancy which aims to educate and empower the hospitality industry. Tucked away down a secret lane in the shadow of St Pauls, the bar will take visitors on a thrilling journey through whiskeys illustrious history, its verdant terroir, its community and folkloric traditions whilst offering a refreshing approach to the worlds most revered spirit.
Nate and Lewis have created an elegant drinking experience that moves out of the darkness and into the light, inspired by the fact that the whiskies of Ireland and the Scottish coastline evoke lighter, fresher, fruit-led notes. The menu avoids the richer armchair cocktails often associated with whiskey and uses botanicals and blooms, with signature serves including: Emigré, a heady blend of Pure Pot Still Whiskey, Apple, Rhubarb and Elderflower, Kings Country, a zesty drink made with Offaly Whiskey, Fresh Citrus, Peach, Basil and Salt and the fruity, Tartan Pimpernel, a mixture of Peated Whiskey, Aloe Vera Water and Bee Pollen Raspberry Wine.
Even the stalwart of whiskey cocktails, The Old Fashioned is interpreted more as a style than a recipe, with every single one tailored to the guests specific preferences and a beer provided while they wait, for each cocktail to be properly prepared with around seven minutes of stirring.
Rare and unusual products and ingredients will be sourced continually and Merchant House are entirely independent in their choice of spirits, refusing all brand affiliations and focusing solely on quality. Some of the more interesting whiskies available include Midleton dair Ghaelach, an 18-24 year old single pot still which is unique in that its aged in Virgin Irish Oak (as opposed to the typical ex-bourbon or ex-sherry casks). There are whiskies from some of the British Isles remotest areas, such as a 35 year old, Old Pulteney, from Wick, right on the very northern tip of mainland Scotland; a 30 year old Highland Park from the Orkney Isles; and a variety of lesser known bottlings, alongside an impressive array of highly sought after American whiskies.
Merchant House Fleet Street has a relaxed décor aimed at bringing nature inside decorated with lush plants and bric-a-brac artfully displayed amongst the shelves of gleaming bottles. Guests can sit at one of the stylish marble topped tables or unwind on one of the plush velvet upholstered stools. Materials such as aged paint, brass, and vintage prints make it the perfect spot to while away an evening with friends. There are also whisky masterclasses available for £50 per person, offering a whisky cocktail on arrival and the chance to taste five whiskies, including a rare bottling from the bars private collection.
Nate and Lewis sum up their latest project here:
“Merchant House of Fleet Street is our most exciting project to date. The world of whiskey is not just expanding at an exponential rate, but the entire identity of the category is shifting away from stuffy armchairs and dark corners to fresh, floral and feminine spaces with delicious, invigorating cocktails. We believe that we are contributing to this in our own small way, and that Merchant House of Fleet Street will pave the way for this new personality of whiskey!”