REVIEW: The Manhattans Project @ Pond Dalston
Guest Blogger Brenda Wong visits Pond Dalston for the Manhattans Project, a cocktail residency tucked away in a hidden corner of East London…
When you hear about something called ‘The Manhattans Project’, you’re bound to expect an experience full of New York swagger. Mad scientist/mixologist Felix Cohen delivers just that, despite the fact he’s from Birmingham, putting on an impressive showcase of cocktails with special twists on party classics.
Pond Dalston is tucked away in a hidden corner of East London, and we do mean hidden. Past a couple of quiet alleys and the eerie silence of closed market stalls is where you find the Hawaiian restaurant, and it is an industrial, steampunk oasis. A Victorian warehouse featuring oh-so-chic exposed pipes, incense and Buddha figurines, with a large shark suspended from the ceiling the proverbial cherry on its beautifully iced cake. It’s a mashup, but it works.
Before we move onto the simply sublime cocktails, we must firstly commend the wonderful service. The Project’s staff are attentive and chatty, and it was wonderful hearing their personal cocktail recommendations (all of which were different, to our equal delight and horror – making it extra difficult to choose.) The man himself, Felix Cohen, was bounding around the venue like the Energizer Bunny – and nothing says service like the mixologist himself going out to personally purchase the Ribena for his Boozy Hot Ribena when it had run out.
Thank goodness for Felix, because it was a bitterly cold evening that called for a ‘hot bena’, steaming hot and with just enough St. Germain and gin to turn a childhood treat into a very adult one. Rebelling against the chill, Sex on the Beach #2 is exactly as promised – blood orange soda and cranberry bitters keeping the drink light, tart, and nothing like the bucket you may have had on Koh Phangan during your gap year.
Then came the Bloody Mary. Described as ‘the umamiest Mary that’s ever going to get you’, it will erase the dirtiest of hangovers. Wow. Sriracha, wasabi, fish and soy sauce complements earthy fermented chilli and smoked Aylesbury Duck vodka so perfectly it makes you wonder if your whole life has lead to this culinary moment. We decided it would be rude to lick the glass.
We’d also recommend the wonderful Five Go to Mexico: tequila, rhubarb juice St. Germain and agave syrup topped off with a whimsical sherbet rim. However the real star of tonight’s show had to be The Eagle. Prosecco is reduced down to a salted syrup, whizzed up with lactic and tartaric acid with some added xantham to up the viscosity, and then it’s mixed with Havana Club rum and bitters. It is stunning, but it almost doesn’t matter, because what’s really special is that it’s served from a glass eagle.
Next, the bar snacks. And what a selection they were. Spam fries with yuzu mayo (yep, really) were the perfect accompaniment to the drinks, and the traditional Hawaiian poke (a form of salmon sashimi salad) was fresh and flavourful. If this is an indication of what POND’s full menu is like, you can guarantee that we’ll be swinging by for a second visit.
East London’s best-kept secret? We think it might be – and you don’t have to cross any ponds to get there.
Brenda @ Fashionbite xx
Address: POND Dalston, Stamford Works, 3 Gillett Street, Dalston, N16 8JK