Purl Team to Open Worship Street Gin Palace

Worship Street Whistling Shop promises Sunday feasts and experiential cocktails

BarLifeUK had heard rumblings of a second venue by the team behind Purl, one of the most talked-about bars to open in London of recent times, and so we collared Tristan Stephenson to get the skinny on the new joint.

BLUK: Can you tell us a little about the concept of the new bar?

TS: I have a bit of an obsession with Victorian London and the Gin Palace era, so as a result of that we have gone down the Victorian route for the new place. It is hard core traditional British, 19th Century, with the main influence being the gin palaces.

BLUK: How did you come up with the name?

TS: Whistling comes from the Old English for ‘Cheers’ and during the late 18th Century a whistling shop was the name for a place you could go to buy a drink… it was slang for a gin palace. And as the site is on Worship Street, it rolls of the tongue nicely.

BLUK: Purl has become well know for quite intricate cocktails that encourage guests to step out of the comfort zone on occasion. Will the Whistling Shop follow suit?

TS: The drinks will be quite different to Purl, which is all about theatre and multi-sensory drinks using dry ice or coming in several parts for the guest to construct at their table.

With the Whistling Shop, it’s going to be quite historically accurate, with some modern takes. We are fitting out a full lab, which will create more in-house ingredients than any other bar I’ve seen. The prep list is ridiculous!

If you think about Heston’s ‘Dinner’, it’s pretty close to what we are doing with the drinks.

Ryan Chetiyawardana, of 69 Colebrook Row fame, is the bar manager. He has been working on the cocktail list. One of the drinks we are doing is a Champagne gin fizz – so we are actually bottling a flat gin fizz and bottle-fermenting it with yeast. We have a corker, so it will be served in the bottle and popped at the table.

BLUK: Will the cocktail list be quite gin-heavy?

TS: Yes, kind of. The list has only 12 drinks, and yes you would probably say it is gin-driven.

BLUK: We’ve heard tell of some experiential drinking, can you tell us about that?

TS: We have two private dining rooms, well, drinking rooms. One of them is being converted into an authentic 18th Century dram shop, so it has bench seating and a library cabinet of vintage gins – the idea being a group go in for a short experience and try some of the gins.

The other room is being called the Cocktail Emporium – it will be a multi-sensory journey through cocktails based around a given theme. The idea is up to eight people will taste five cocktails over a couple of hours, but accompanying those cocktails will be aromas, light, images, sound, and music to match.

As an example, we might run an experience on the history of rum. So it would include five cocktails ranging from a Flip all the way to Tiki drinks. For each drink the theme of the room will change, so for the Grog cocktail, the aromas would be sea air, gunpowder, wet wood. There would be the sound of the waves and the light would move to give the impression of moving on a boat. And this would be accompanied by food.

BLUK: This all sounds fantastic! Do you have an opening date yet?

TS: Yes, the opening date will be April 28th!

You can follow the Worship Street Whistling Shop’s progress towards opening on April 28th on Twitter: www.twitter.com/whistlingshop