Drink Lagos: South
There's something about South that reminds me of the south-eastern region of Louisiana and its Creole + Cajun influence. Maybe that’s where the name comes from. Oddly enough, South also made me miss Nando’s. I'm blaming the playlist, with its strong Latin American influence, for that.
I started with the London Berry Bramble, a gin-based cocktail similar to another drink on the menu - the Bourbon Berry Lemonade. The London Berry Bramble is made with gin, ginger beer, lemon juice, and fresh berries. The recipe uses frozen mixed berries which were ridiculously tart. This was done intentionally for the crème de mûre, which is a blackcurrant crème liqueur that has a sweet syrupy consistency unlike your traditional ‘diary cream liqueur’, to balance out the tartness. In some ways, it reminded me of a Gin Fix.
"If a Moscow mule was British..."
If you're going to start off describing a cocktail like that, you better be showing up with quality gin. Thankfully, South did just that. Of course, you’d be outed as a Russian spy if you didn’t pretend to prefer gin to vodka, we all know vodka is to Moscow as gin is to London.
(Fun fact: Dick Bradsell invented the Bramble in London during the 80s)
The London Berry Bramble is CLEARLY for the hardcore alcohol lovers in the house because that gin hits you right in the face with every sip. Overly spicy like Utopia’s Wood Eye, it can get exhausting for only-mojito-drinking newbies. Muddling, not blending, the berries meant that huge chunks of berries will try to choke you if you’re not paying attention. I wish the mint leaf, used as a garnish, was also muddled into the cocktail to make the mint a bit more pronounced.
Also, on a hilarious note, I was served the Bramble AGAIN when I ordered the Bourbon Berry as my second drink. How does a bartender not know the difference between his drinks? When I insisted I get the correct drink, the bartender hesitated and said, “... but ma, it’s the same price”. Let's excuse the condescension for a second, how does this young chap think the resolution to a wrong order is to inform me that it’s the same PRICE? Of course, I went on to school him and although he didn’t apologise, I moved on to a better mixologist.
The Bourbon Berry Lemonade is a very whiskey take on the London Berry Bramble. It also switched out the frozen berries for fresh ones. It was also pureed rather than muddled so the berries coated the cocktail finely. Bourbon and berries make the best combo in quite a few things: cocktails, cakes, and syrups. This was also a less concentrated version of the Bramble as it came in a larger glass.
Another fun fact: whiskey-based cocktails usually come in jars for easy passage of the harsh liquor.
The complex profile of the cardamom in the Bourbon Berry Lemonade lifted the drink and gave it citrus, mint, herbal, and spicy undertones. It’s always summertime (read: hot) in Lagos so kudos to this perfect summer drink. I preferred this version to the Bramble because in as much as I love gin, whiskey saves lives.
I over indulged and got a third drink, the Grow-A-Pair. It is made with spiced rum, tequila, fresh pear, pomegranate molasses, and apple cider. I loved the idea of ‘pomegranate molasses’ because molasses, a sweetener harvested from sugarcanes, is combined with a superfood that has a lot of anti-inflammatory properties. I found that the apple cider loosened the denseness from the pomegranate molasses. On the other hand; the spiced rum, tequila, and fresh pear formed a refreshing base for the margarita. The earthiness of this cocktail lures you to overindulge until your legs fail you. I’d definitely say I’m a fan of cocktails camouflaged as organic.
Things got interesting when I ordered my final round of drinks. I went with the Black Margarita and a nameless drink that the mixologist came up with, which we'll call the Christina. You should always sit by the bar when you’re feeling a bit chatty and want the best service.
I think the nameless drink, Christina, was the bartender trying to show-off. It was mysteriously made but I remember Japanese melons, simple syrup, orange bitters, and prosecco. It was served with two 30 ml flasks which had tequila and lemon juice, so you alter your drink however you want. Too sweet, sorted. No alcohol, sorted.
It was fresh and sweet with robust citrus notes from the melons and I loved how the prosecco bodied it. Of course, it was FIA when I added extra tequila and lemon juice.
Finally, I rounded things up with South’s Black Margarita, the most expensive cocktail on the menu. This drink owes its blackness to activated charcoal. It was also made with Don Julio Añejo (fancy tequila), lime, cointreau, and agave syrup. It wasn’t as heavy as it looked but it tasted quite different from the norm. It had bulging spicy notes but they weren't overwhelming. The lime garnish dipped in chile powder and fresh chili are like a visual warning of this "spiciness". That said, it was quite soothing for a drink that was served in a creepy mug with kosher salt rimmed around the glass.
Oh, it also comes with a 30ml flask full of extra tequila. Real sophistication.
The drink menu at South is a really impressive piece of work. For starters, it's incredibly extensive and it features a wide variety of drinks from different regions; from rum in the Americas to tikis from Polynesia. For all this fun, you pay a pretty penny, but you can't deny how adventurous the drink menu is.
Christina is a TV and Film junkie who also spends an incredible amount of time reviewing skincare products she can barely afford.
Good for: After Work Drinks - Date Night - Special Occasion
Food: Full Kitchen
Happy Hour: No | Bottle Service: Yes | Wine: Yes | Beer: Yes
Grow A Pair - N3000
Black Margarita - N8000
London Berry Bramble - N3200
Bourbon Berry Lemonade - N3000