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Posts Tagged: Dick Bradsell

Inside our new cocktail menu…

If you’re yet to try out our new cocktail menu in the Pink Chihuahua, then you’re in for a treat! Love tequila? Love classic cocktails? Love wanky bartender drinks? This is so your bag…

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The new menu is based on the Dick and Jane books, the old children’s series, and pays homage, in a small way, to  our dear friend, Dick Bradsell.

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If you love tequila, we’ve got a wonderful selection of our favourite tequila cocktails…

imageAnd you’ll also find a few of Dick’s most famous creations.

 


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Then, of course, there are the drinks that we love making and drinking – even though they might be a bit… wanky.

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Finally, if you’re here for the tequila, we’ve got a couple of pages dedicated to the ones we like best. We’ve also got a page of different mezcals if you’re feeling smoky and mysterious.

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This is just a small peek into what we’ve got going on, so come and discover the rest for yourselves. So far, the Mezcal Sazerac has got the cocktail aficionados a little excited – why not start there if you’re looking for an exciting jumping off point?

The So Soho Cocktail Scene

We are in an area of London that is steeped in cocktail history (‘steeped’ is probably a good word; ‘pickled’ could also have been used in its place). At every corner, bartenders conspired, bars were frequented and drinks were invented. The scene has changed over the years, but it is still here, and so are the remnants of what made it.

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In the 80s and 90s, Soho was the pioneer in changing the UK cocktail scene and famous party animals like Boy George, members of Spandau Ballet and Simon Le Bon would zig-zag across the streets, lipstick smeared across cheeks, martini glasses in-hand. It was in Soho Brasserie, on Old Compton Street, in the late 1980s, that Dick invented the Espresso Martini. Other famous creations from the ‘King of Cocktails’ include the Bramble, the Russian Spring Punch and, of course, the Pink Chihuahua (so good we named our bar after it). The founder of LAB, Douglas Ankrah, which is still going strong on Old Compton Steet, created the Porn Star Martini, which is now known the world over.

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Cocktail creativity in Soho is still peaking, and a new generation of bartenders are entering competitions and achieving international critical acclaim for making great drinks. LAB, Milk & Honey, Experimental Cocktail Club, Mark’s Bar at Hix and our very own Pink Chihuahua at El Camion are among the awesome places to go in Soho to get an excellent cocktail. With a line-up like that, we think it’s going to be a pretty great weekend.

Celebrate World Gin Day with the famous Bramble!

Now, booze lovers all over the globe are getting rather excited about the coming Saturday. Why might that be? Because it is World Gin Day!

Okay, so we can usually be found extolling the virtues of mezcal and tequila, but gin is also very close to our hearts. Thanks, in large part, to that wonderful King of the Cocktail, Dick Bradsell.

Not only did this creative genius invent the Espresso Martini and our beloved Pink Chihuahua cocktail, but he is also responsible for one of the most famous gin based libations ever to grace bar menus… The Bramble!

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Most cocktail aficionados will have tried this fruity yet sophisticated drink. A gorgeous purpley-scarlett colour, topped with a fresh blackberry and slice of lemon, it is a firm favourite. Dick created it at Fred’s bar in the 80’s and it was based on his childhood spent picking blackberries in bramble bushes on the Isle of Wight. Now his daughter Bea is mixing them up for us at El Camion and the Pink Chihuahua – a lovely little cycle!

If you fancy creating Dick’s masterpiece at home, then here’s the recipe for The Bramble:

It is built in a glass over crushed ice.
Fill a glass with crushed ice
Add:
10mls Sugar Syrup
25mls Fresh lemon juice
50mls London Dry Gin (We use beefeater)
You then churn the liquid and ice and then add more crushed ice.
You then drizzle 15mls of Creme de Mure over the drink to give a bleeding effect.
Garnish: 2 blackberries and a lemon slice
Glass: Double old fashioned
Happy World Gin Day!

The Many Guises of the Espresso Martini

Waaaaay before a Vodka Red Bull sullied anyone’s lips, there was a cocktail in town that was the answer to flagging spirits at a party – and it was a whole lot sexier, too. Since Dick’s creation was born back in 1983, it has grown more popular than ever and you can get an Espresso Martini at a bar the world over.

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This week, our busy Bea whipped up some Espresso Martinis live on air at Soho Radio to celebrate their first birthday party – as cocktail created in Soho for Soho, it was a more than apt celebratory tipple for them. And, after all of the tasty grub they consumed during their foodie special show, this will have been the perfect cocktail to perk everyone up, ready for the party ahead! (The party did go on until the early hours in the Pink Chihuahua, of which Bea and her Espresso Martinis take no responsibility for…)

The Espresso Martini was concocted for a 1980s vodka-swilling audience and was even originally called the Vodka Espresso, and later, as molecular gastronomy glinted on the horizon in the late 90s, Dick renamed it the Pharmaceutical Stimulant for the Pharmacy bar in Notting Hill.

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Nowadays you can find loads of intriguing variations, including the Espresso Daiquiri, made with white rum instead of vodka, the Irish Espresso’tini, with Irish cream liqueur and vanilla vodka, and the Flying Frenchman, a fabulously head-spinning absinthe espresso martini. We also like the sound of the tequila-based Jalisco Espresso. After all, what is mixology if not for experimentation? (And a fair, fair bit of sampling in the process…!)

Legendary cocktails at El Camion and beyond

This month, our legendary senior bartender, Dick, and his daughter Bea, were featured in The Cocktail Lovers magazine. In the 1980s, Dick changed the face of the London bar scene and pioneered the UK cocktail industry as we know it today. As the inventor of the Espresso Martini, the Bramble, the Russian Spring Punch, the Wibble and the Treacle, Dick also created a cocktail so good we named our basement bar after it: The Pink Chihuahua. Here, in an interview with The Cocktail Lovers back in 2013, he describes how it came about:

“I wanted to make a drink that was pink called the Pink Chihuahua. It was going to be with mescal but the flavour was too strong, so I changed to tequila. I worked on it for about two weeks, when I got it I danced around the corridor. I knew it was a good drink, it pleased me.”

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This got us thinking about other cocktails that have made it into the history books and some of the stories behind them are pretty interesting…

The Cosmopolitan

As is the story with many cocktails, this Cosmopolitan has a hazy history. The origins behind the Cosmo as we know it circle around three bartending legends, Cheryl Cook, Toby Cecchini and Dale DeGroff, although recipes for drinks known by the same name have been found dating back to the early 1900s. Cheryl Cook, however, lays claim to creating the Cosmopolitan in the 1980s by adapting a Kamikaze and adding Absolut Citron and a splash of cranberry juice. Toby Cecchini, though, says that he had come across the cocktail and had transformed it with Absolut Citron to impress the waitresses. But it was Dale DeGroff who made the cocktail famous while he worked at Manhattan’s Rainbow Rooms. He added his signature orange flame and it is his recipe that is followed today.

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The Manhattan

Apparently the whole thing about it being invented for Winston Churchill’s mum in 1874 at New York City’s Manhattan Club is all lies! She was actually giving birth to Winston at the time that she supposedly requested the drink to be made. Instead, a more probable account of its invention was in a bar on Broadway in the 1860s, where it was invented by a man named Black. Yet – there is still another story of it being created on a yachting trip in New York by a Col. Joe Walker, who decided to mix together the only refreshments left in the icebox – Italian vermouth and whiskey. He later experimented with it in his bar in New Orleans and named it after his friends on Manhattan Island.

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The Porn Star Martini

The ultimate modern classic, the Porn Star Martini only came to life in 2002 and is now famous around the world. Douglas Ankrah, of The Townhouse in Knightsbridge, first called this drink the Maverick Martini, named after a dodgy club in Cape Town. The name by which we know it today is apparently down to the usage of passionfruit in the cocktail, which you are meant to eat first, before drinking the Champagne and lastly enjoying the fruity martini. Ankrah went on to found the great LAB bar, which is now often associated with this deliciously lavish cocktail.

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Who knows what might be created next time you’re sitting at the bar in The Pink Chihuahua with our talented bar team… Maybe you will witness history being made!

The Glorious Daiquiri

You come to El Camion, you know that you are going to get a mean Margarita. You may also have been tempted by our cool, creamy Batidas. But there is one other cocktail from the Latin Americas that we do and we do very well, and that is the glorious Daiquiri.

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The Daiquiri is thought to have been invented, or at least developed, in the late 1800s by an American mining engineer called Jennings Cox, who worked in an iron mine in Cuba called Daiquiri. Apparently, the locals drank rum with limes and, to make it more appealing to his palate, he sweetened the drink with sugar and mixed it with ice, when he could get it.

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Whatever the history, the drink has been a favourite in American bars since the 1940s and it has a league of famous fans, including the late Ernest Hemingway, who loved it so much that there is a variation named after him. It is one of the six basic drinks listed in David A. Embury’s The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks, which features the formula that our very own Dick Bradsell follows, and in turn, taught Simon Difford of Difford’s Guide.

In our Daiquiris we use Havana Club 3 Year Old Rum, one of the most prestigious light Cuban rums available. It is a great quality rum and is perfect to mix in cocktails, without losing the authentic Cuban taste.

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Here is our list of Daiquiris:

Daiquiri Natural

Havana Club 3 Year Old Rum, fresh lime and cane syrup, fine strained and served straight up. The original Cuban Daiquiri.

Frozen Daiquiri

Havana Club 3 Year Old Rum, fresh lime, cane syrup and maraschino, blended with ice. Very refreshing on a hot day, and very, very drinkable.

Hemingway Daiquiri (Papa Double)

Havana Club 3 Year Old Rum, grapefruit and maraschino, available blended or straight up like Hemingway used to like it.

Daiquiri Deluxe

Havana Club 3 Year Old Rum, fresh lime, fresh pineapple and orgeat, blended with ice. Luxurious.

Strawberry Daiquiri

Havana Club 3 Year Old Rum, fresh lime, strawberry and liqueurs, blended. Everyone’s favourite – summertime in a glass.

Banana Daiquiri

Havana Club 3 Year Old Rum, fresh banana, creme de banane and cream, blended with ice. A totally tropical treat.
Winter is just about over. We make that Daiquiri Time.

 

El Camion Turns 5!

This month El Camion celebrates its 5th birthday! It’s crazy to think we have been rustling up burritos and shaking margaritas to the hungry and thirsty Soho public for half a decade now. Considered an industry local, a party den or simply the place to chow down on nachos like nobody’s watching, we will be celebrating our 5th birthday in style very soon. There will be tequila.

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In the mean time, here’s a look back at our 5 years on Brewer Street in reviews.

2010 – A Hedonist’s Guide To…

‘This is an after-work joint for local industry insiders (for whom work finishes at midnight) who know to stick with perfectly crafted cocktails, and that the best secret party is hidden in the arse-end of Soho.’

http://www.hg2london.com/bars/bodega/—dicks-at-el-camion—london-uk

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2011 – The Cocktail Lovers

‘This is a lovely, friendly good time bar. Better still everything about enjoying cocktails in London just gets so very much better knowing that Dick Bradsell is around and doing his stuff.’

http://www.thecocktaillovers.com/2011/08/baja-room-el-camion-soho-w1/

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2012 – London On The Inside

‘With decent grub, super cocktails and quirky decor you could easily whittle away your pay packet here and we’ll definitely be giving it a go.’

http://londontheinside.com/2012/07/23/review-el-camion/

 

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2013 – Londonist

‘If you’re up for a dance, Mexican vibes and a damn good time, head to The Pink Chihuahua (‘Dick’s Bar’), quite possibly the friendliest bar in Soho, with warm welcomes and staff with a talent for remembering names and favourite drinks.’

http://londonist.com/2013/10/where-to-get-a-drink-after-midnight-in-london.php

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2014 – I’m A Londoner

‘El Camion has something else up its sleeves; a Mexican restaurant menu that has kept loyal fans flocking straight back over the years to Brewer Street. It seems to have survived, almost solely, off a word-of-mouth trade on the competitive streets of gastro Soho. The long and short of it is: those who like it, love it.’

http://imalondoner.com/el-camion-mexicano-soho/

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2015 – Difford’s Guide

‘In the basement, below Sage Conran’s excellent Mexican restaurant you’ll find the Pink Chihuahua, a basement bar which is often presided over by bartending legend, Dick Bradsell.’

http://www.diffordsguide.com/pubs-and-bars/370/london/the-pink-chihuahua-at-el-camion

Difford's Guide review

El Camion’s Top Cocktails

Not only do we make the best Mexican fare in town, but we’re a dab hand at mixing cocktails too, with some of London’s most talented bartenders at the shaker. When you’re out for dinner, enjoy scanning your eye over our cocktail menu, where we use premium spirits with inventive ingredients to bring something fresh and innovative to the palate.

Take a peek at some of the most popular cocktails here at El Camion.

Tommy’s Margarita

One of BarChick’s faves, we mix Altos tequila with agave syrup, bringing a sweet agave kick to your classic margarita. Shaken with fresh lime juice and served on the rocks, this is a zesty taste of the Mexican party spirit.

Margarita

 

Pink Chihuahua

So good we named our members bar after it. Or did we name it after our members bar? What came first – the chicken or the egg? Altos tequila shaken with lime juice and almond syrup is delicious enough, creating a fruity, tart concoction. The addition of fresh pomegranate juice mellows the flavour and gives it its beautiful rose hue and, with a topping of shaken egg white, the texture is smooth, silky and completely moreish.

Pink chihuahua

Espresso Martini

The world-famous Espresso Martini was invented by none other than our cocktail aficionado, Dick. Wyborowa Vodka with fresh espresso, Tia Maria, Kahlua, and a dash of sugar is the answer to your prayers when you’re feeling a little less than party. Served straight up in a martini glass, it tastes like strong coffee with notes of chocolate and the texture is smooth and frothy.

Espresso martini

 

Also give these two a try:

Chilli-pina-rita

Another one of Dick’s creations, the Chilli-pina-rita is as exotic as it sounds. Altos Blanco Tequila is given a tropical hit with fresh pineapple spears, pineapple syrup and lime juice. Fresh red chillies bring a fiery dimension to it, awaking those tastebuds and delivering a helpful swift boot to your metabolism. Fresh, vibrant and spicy, it’s a great pre-dinner choice.

El Diablo

A favourite with those who like their cocktails how they like their dancing: fresh and fruity. Altos tequila mixed with lime juice and ginger ale, then topped with crème de cassis. Served long over ice, it is the taste of summer, whatever season we’re in.

Sangrita, You Say?!

As a house policy we don’t serve tequila with salt and lime. Instead we serve a homemade red sangrita, made with fresh pomegranate juice and hot sauces. All our tequilas are made from 100% agave and are some of the finest tequilas coming out of Mexico – we don’t want to sully them with salt!

 

Sangrita

 

Don’t confuse sangrita with sangria, though. Sangrita, meaning ‘little blood’, is a customary companion to a shot of straight tequila and is traditionally made from leftover juices (like orange and lime), pomegranate, fine pepper powder and spices. Its peppery, citrus taste compliments the tequila, also peppery and citrusy in taste, and highlights the tequila’s crisp acidity.

 

Tequila and sangrita

 

Traditionally, sangrita and tequila are poured into separate shot glasses and sipped alternatively, so that the sangrita cleanses the palate between each sip. We won’t judge you, however, if you decide to chase your shot of tequila with the sangrita. It’s more fun that way. It’s also used in a drink known as ‘The Mexican Flag’, where three separate double shot glasses are filled with lime juice, tequila and sangrita.

 

Mexican flag

 

Make your own sangrita!

A basic traditional recipe:

1 oz. freshly squeezed orange juice
3/4 to 1 oz. freshly squeezed lime juice
1/2 oz. real pomegranate-based grenadine
1/4 tsp. ancho chile powder or 3 dashes hot sauce
1-2 slices jalapeño

OR… just pour the juices left over from a fruit salad into a cup, along with some hot sauce, chilli powder, pepper and pomegranate juice, mix it altogether and there you have it – a traditional slap-dash sangrita, the way it was meant to be. Now onto choosing the tequila…

Cocktails and late night tortillas in our Pink Chihuahua Bar!

Top tacos, banging burritos and gnarley nachos – El Camion Mexicano is all over it. Our Soho restaurant is the place to come to get your fill of the tastiest Mexican grub this side of the Atlantic. But, get this. Not only do we have awesome chefs in our kitchen, we also have some of the most talented bartenders in London behind our bar.

The Pink Chihuahua, our basement Baja bar, is where the magic happens and our skilled and knowledgable bar team are led by cocktail legend Dick Bradsell, the inventor of the Espresso Martini, no less.

Dick Bradsell's Espresso Martini Cocktail

Dick Bradsell’s Espresso Martini Cocktail

Here, you will experience the craftmanship of our passionate bar team and choose from an array of margaritas (try a mango one for something deliciously different) or one of our creamy batidas – or ask one of the guys to create a cocktail for you based on your preferences and tastes. Of course, our famous house cocktail is the Pink Chihuahua – sweet, fruity with a foamy layer on top, it is the perfect party drink.

The Pink Chihuahua is also the proud home of hundreds of tequilas and we welcome you to try any you fancy. This is a bar passionate about Mexico’s native tipple, tequila, and we have a whole menu at your perusal. We are also big fans of mezcal and we list 15 variations on our drinks list.

Our basement Baja bar is party central and we love hosting events down there – there is a booking policy but we welcome people to drop by or call up for a chat to see if we can accommodate. If you love our food and our unique party spirit, you’ll feel at home here – plus it’s open until the wee hours AND you can order food until 2am. Sweet!