Little Mercies in a nutshell
Modern, easy-drinking cocktails are the focus at Alan Sherwood’s (Peg + Patriot, Scout) laidback establishment.
Where is it?
Crouch End. A 15-minute walk from Hornsey station (or an eight-minute bus ride from Finsbury Park underground station).
What’s the vibe at Little Mercies?
Calm and composed – expect minimalist interiors of exposed brick, concrete bar, pendant lamps and inky blue walls.
Expect minimalist interiors of exposed brick, concrete bar, pendant lamps and inky blue walls
What’s the drinks menu like?
The cocktails here are the kind which appear elegantly simple but are actually the product of complex and lengthy techniques and processes – from fat washing to vermouth making. Drinks maestros Max and Noel Venning (Three Sheets, Bar Three) have an interest in Little Mercies, and their influence can also be detected in the menu (such as the “Pornstar”, a fizzy, pre-bottled take on the pornstar martini that has echoes of the Vennings’ famous French 75).
Care and thought has also gone into the list of soft drinks (think lemon with clarified fig and soda, or peach cordial with lemongrass and silver needle tea). There’s a pithy roster of mostly European wines and craft beers (including a Little Mercies bitter), and you can get your caffeine hit courtesy of Alchemy Coffee (including nitro cold-drip coffee on tap).
The Negroni, “Pornstar” and Old Fashioned
Which cocktails to order?
Cocktails are elegantly light and arrive swiftly. Rooibos + Rye – verjus, rooibos tea, vanilla, red apple and soda – was the perfect day drink, dry yet deliciously fresh and crisp. The bar’s take on an old fashioned gives an end-of-the-night cocktail a lighter makeover, washing Buffalo Trace bourbon with caramelised white chocolate to give a silky, rounded end result. Negroni refuseniks who find the cocktail too dry and stridently boozy should try Little Mercies’ version, which uses their own (seasonally changing) vermouth. On our visit it was cherry, which gave a softer, fruitier character to the drink.
Is there any food?
It’s all too easy to stay on for dinner at Little Mercies thanks to the bar’s moreish menu of sharing plates, courtesy of ex-Brawn chef Jason Williams. A plump, springy beef crumpet topped with blue cheese rarebit is as delicious as you’d expect it to be, while a trendy chicken katsu sando also hits the spot. Veggie plates also impress, from a succulent wedge of grilled hispi cabbage dressed in shrimp butter to roasted carrots with an umami-laden carrot and miso purée.
The beef crumpet
The bar also offers brunch on weekends, featuring dishes such as bubble & squeak with cotechino sausage, sauerkraut and wild garlic, or pancakes with bacon, salted maple butter and hazelnut cream.
Where to go nearby for dinner: Head to Paesan, a two-minute walk away, for regional Italian pasta dishes.
Price: £9 for a cocktail.
Photographs by Lateef Okunnu and Loren Reed
Words by Hannah Guinness