In this month’s Called to the Bar series Julie Carolan catches up with the team at Market House.
Tell us about Market House
Market House is an independent establishment which has been open in Brixton about three years. We always struggle to describe it as it’s a bit of everything – we’re a pub, bar, club, pop up (we host different cooks and chefs regularly) and cafe, we cover off everything! You can be here morning to night and never get bored as the entertainment and offering changes throughout the day. We’re currently hosting Wingman Korean-style wings and bao (see the photo above) and The Duck Egg Café at the weekend.
What are your signature drinks?
We have a cocktail menu which changes seasonally. The most popular cocktails are probably the Mambos. Ladies tend to go for something sweeter, such as the Stockholm Syndrome which is a twist on the Strawberry Daiquiri. Many of our cocktails are twists on classic cocktails and one of our favourites is the BFG which is Hendrick’s Gin with Sipsmith Sloe Gin, cucumber and Ginger Ale – it’s very refreshing and extremely tasty.
Every week one staff member creates a cocktail which we add to the menu as our Cocktail of the Week. We’re all involved in the tasting of each cocktail and feed back to help tweak the recipe. We’re very lucky in that we have staff from all over the world so there are always new ideas and different flavour combinations for us all to experiment with.
What are your favourite ingredients?
It changes all the time. Over Christmas it was a red vermouth made by a German brand called Belsazar from Pinot Noir grapes. We made a mulled wine with it and during December we literally served nothing else, it was the talk of Brixton!
Cucumber is always popular, especially as we move into the summer – it’s healthy, summery and so refreshing. It works in many recipes as well.
How do you like a G&T?
Without tonic water! Some of our team prefer gin on the rocks with a touch of sugar and lime – or with ginger ale. Tanqueray 10 is great because you can really taste the ingredients they use in the distillation process. We’re fans of Sloe Gin as well, a favourite is Sipsmith’s Sloe Gin.
Where do you stand on The Great Debate – gin or vodka martini?
Gin every time. You just can’t appreciate vodka in the same way – although you can find some great, and very smooth vodkas, they can’t compare to other spirits, especially 21 year old whiskies and rums.
What’s the strangest thing a customer has asked for?
It’s always funny hearing our customers request cocktails from the menu as they all have fairly random names! And recently a customer asked for a ‘JD and Jack Daniel’s and coke’… we weren’t sure how to break it to her that she had ordered the same drink twice!
Any top tips for trends this summer?
One of our team recently did a guest bartending stint in the Czech Republic and we noticed they were using a lot of vegetables in their cocktails – avocado puree was everywhere, so we might see more of that kind of thing later on in the year.
Over here in London, we’ve spotted an increased interest in rye whisky and the Old Fashioned cocktail. At Market House we’ve landed a deal with some American distributors to stock 200 bottles of Whistle Pig which we’re really excited about! Rye whiskey fans need to come down and try it.
Interestingly we’ve seen a change in Brixton’s palate over the last five years – it used to be sweeter, but with the demographic of people in the area expanding, customers are becoming more interested in bitter and tauter flavours. It has been a challenge creating a cocktail menu that balances the desire for both sweet and bitter cocktail flavours – but a great challenge!
Where do you like to eat and drink in Brixton?
We love Kaff Bar and Sovereign Loss for cocktails and drinks. There’s a close knit group of bartenders working in Brixton and we tend to go to either Kaff Bar or Sovereign Loss to swap ideas and test out flavour combinations.
We like Satay for Thai food, Market House (even on days off!), Okan, the frozen yoghurt place in Brixton Village and The Ritzy has decent cakes and wines.
And finally, is there a cocktail recipe our readers could try at home?
Yes, definitely – the Market Mambo is easy to make.
- 30ml Sailor Jerry Rum (RRP £20 per bottle from Tesco and independents)
- 20ml Wray & Nephew Overproof Rum (available from Amazon)
- 25ml thick mango juice (most supermarkets should have this)
- 25ml passion fruit juice (most supermarkets should have this)
- a few fresh strawberries
- strawberry syrup (available from larger supermarkets)
Start by placing a few ice cubes in a highball glass; add the strawberries and strawberry syrup before pouring in the mango and passion fruit juice. Add the Sailor Jerry rum and Wrap & Nephew Overproof rum, and a squeeze of lime.
Market House, 443 Coldharbour Lane, Brixton, London SW9 8LN
Opening hours: Mondays–Wednesdays, 3pm-11pm; Thursdays, 3pm-12am, Fridays 3pm-3am; Saturdays 12pm-4am; Sundays 12pm-11pm.