Wednesday, 13 February 2013

House of Wolf

House of Wolf boldly describe themselves as: ‘a multi-sensory experimental pleasure palace’. We were keen to see whether it could live up to the hype.
This blog was born out of a hatred of shit bars rather than an appreciation of good ones and I have been looking forward to my first opportunity to go to town on some overrated shitheap. Unfortunately my first mercilessly scathing review is going to have to wait because Carlsberg don’t do cocktail bars but, if they did, they would be nothing like House of Wolf’s because Carlsberg is horrible and House of Wolf is great.
There seems to be something of a trend in London for serving caipirinhas and mojitos at 15 quid a pop to guys in suits rutting around Barrio East braying about how expensive their drinks are and, ergo, how fucking great they are. Well, I’d like to begin by assuring you that House of Wolf bucks this trend like water over a bridge.

Recently, we visited East London’s third best Lewis Carroll themed cocktail bar. I won’t do them the disservice of naming it, but it begins with 'C' and ends with ‘allooh Callay’. It won’t be featuring on this blog because I tend to assume that if nothing positive stands out in the sporadic memory-bytes of a heavy night, the bar was probably fairly pedestrian. That said, having sifted through the haze of broken images in my head-box, I remember a prolonged altercation with a barman in which he refused to serve me a ‘Lady Boy’ (if you don’t know what that is I suggest you start watching I’m Alan Partridge). In fairness, it was perhaps not the most fashionable order. But get over yourselves. I had done everything that this half-heartedly Jabberwocky-themed twat-den had asked of me: re-mortgaged my house to pay for their horrible Estonian lager; put up with rubbing shoulders with the self-entitled wankers that make up their clientele; not punched anyone in the face. I don’t think it was too much to ask for them to produce a couple of Lady Boys when, however bat-shit mental that may be, that is what I wanted.

House of Wolf, in stark and refreshing contrast, will produce anything you want. But that isn’t it. Their entire staff have been trained by the Delphic Oracle to produce the drink you want most in the world based on the most vague of instructions. With instructions such as, ‘he only likes lager and fags, what can you do?’ and, ‘can I have something that tastes of despair in a good way?’, they will work their magic. The result is a drink that is so much better than what you thought you wanted that it will make you question your ability to ever decide what’s in your own best interests ever again. Of course, I’ve never been able to get even the slightest inkling as to what my own best interests are so I’m rather hoping that I can hire one of their bar staff as my carer because I can't be trusted and it seems they know what's best.

Once you’ve had a bespoke cocktail and decided that you trust the bar staff with your taste buds, sobriety and credit card, I would strongly suggest an alcoholic experiment in the ‘Apothecary’. The House of Wolf’s Apothecary is the forum that inspired J.K. Rowling’s portrayal of potions classes, discovered what Tiggers really like and is the alma mater of Professor Wheeto. And that’s all true (it isn’t). Never has numbing your mind with hard liquor entailed such a degree of artistic merit as it does when exploring the Apothecary cocktail list. With everything from popping candy to Szechuan flowers making up the ingredients, the cocktails are a sensory experience akin to losing your virginity: excitement; followed by confusion; followed by euphoria; followed by a nagging regret that you finished it so quickly; followed by a lifelong desire to do it again and again.

At this point I should mention that, because I’m a child and I only like new shiny things, I never made it past the Apothecary cocktail list. Can you blame me? They’re served with edible desert islands and blocks of cheese. However, the other writers on this blog moved on to the House Cocktail list. They’re idiots so the only feedback I could get was ‘I want to go for a kebab on the way home’. However, had they spent more of their lives training to be sommeliers and less getting drunk behind bins I’m sure they would have said something like: ‘I enjoyed some creative twists on the classics as well as some totally new flavours. They were a pleasure to drink and came at a very reasonable price’.

Of course, you don’t always want a cocktail that is infused with black pudding, designed by NASA and produced by Gandalf (actually, I do, I want to stay there and never leave). Sometimes you just want one of the classics. House of Wolf’s non-exhaustive list of classic cocktails, all at £7.50, with a promise to make anything that isn’t on the list, is exactly how classic cocktails should be done. I like a Martini as much as the next man, but I don’t like B@1 bar staff pretending that there’s anything complex about making one.

What makes House of Wolf great is the imagination and creativity that goes, not only into their cocktails, but into everything they do. From the decor to the food menu the House of Wolf offers something new and different and borderline arousing to the London overindulgence scene. Of course, we didn’t try the food because we’re kebab-munching pikeys.

What makes House of Wolf the best cocktail bar in London is that all of this comes without an ounce of pretension. With cocktail ingredients listed as ‘some stuff from the garden’, vintage Placebo and Bloodhound Gang playing through the speakers and staff who are happy to indulge idiots like us, the whole set up is a relaxed and enjoyable beacon of hope in the all-too-wanky London drinking scene.

Well done, and can I come and live in you?

181 Upper Street,
N1 1RQ

020 7288 1470


  1. you forgot to mention the booth hidden behind a bookcase, which is clearly the best thing about that place.

  2. We weren't allowed in there as one of us was wearing a Frenchman's shoe.

  3. This is the best blog