I’m out with colleagues, in Islington. There was a pop-up bar that looked quite interesting before Christmas, but I never made it in. However, it’s now opened permanently (as permanently as one can open in Islington, these days). The offer of real ales and ciders in the window is a big temptation and I suggest The Taproom as the first stop, to my colleagues, who mostly accept.
As we walk in, I see that this is possibly the first hipster haven in Islington, and the trendy-looking patrons crane their necks round to see if my trousers are tighter than theirs. With my skinny legs, if I were to paste on a pair of ultra-skinnies, I could cool these kids under the table. However, not wanting to strut about looking like a farmyard chicken, my mere slim-fits put me on the lowest rung of the cool hierarchy. Unimpressed, the patrons return to their drinks, and thoughts of even higher turn-ups.
Inside, the decor is, well, absent. There’s a smell of damp MDF. Like the Byron of the booze world, the unfinished, raw brick and holes in stuff look seems to becoming more popular. My mam would hate it. However, I like it, and the staff seem jolly. And the toilets are clean. My mam would like it.
It’s my round, and I see the draft cider is a Millwhites Rioja Cask at 6.7% in their signature hand-written tap sign. Having tried the Rum Cask, I’m keen to see what else Millwhites can create. There’s also a Cornish Orchard Pear Cider, and a colleague wants one of these, though my asking the barmaid for a pint of the perry seems to confuse her, so I revert to modern terminology.
As a birthday gift, I’ve been given a set of incredibly camp cocktail straws, each with a fold-out paper fruit on it. I aptly choose the apple straw for this cider, and give the pear to my colleague with the perry. However, for the first taste, I remove the straw.
The Rioja Cask Somerset cider is a pale, hazy, room temperature cider, almost flat. It has a ripe apple smell. The taste is strong, but not overpowering. It’s quite dry, a little too dry for me, but nice drinking, anyway, while a little of the hot rioja aftertaste takes me for a moment, to the sunny hills of an Ibizan villa, chasing geckos and rubbing sunblock on a Welshman’s back. Thankfully the image doesn’t last long and I’m back in the Taproom.
I’ve heard that drinking booze through a straw can make you get drunk faster and also protects your teeth from acid damage, so, like Liberace on steroids, I plonk my apple straw back in the cider, and continue in the spirit of the evening.
I return to the bar, and decide I’ll try the Cornish Orchards Pear Cider.
This one’s also a cloudy, flat drink with a sweet and smoky smell. However, it doesn’t taste like pears, as with the Sandford Orchards pear cider, it has a sherry-like taste, though not quite so strong. At 5% it’s fairly easy-going, and if you like sherry and perry, then this is a dream come true. If you ARE Sherry and Perry, then I’d love to hear from you.