Drink Lagos: HSE Gourmet
HSE IS BACKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKK!
Now anyone who has been to HSE knows you actually get your money’s worth there. There are a few places in Lagos that actually serve good food, shout out to Chef Nkesi for the consistency. I can never forget how heartbroken I was last year when I went for my usual cheat day with HSE seafood linguine and I was told they were renovating. They said they’d be opening soon, but soon took, like, forever but glory be to God, they are back.
I definitely had to check out the new spot and make sure that seafood linguine was still A1. First thought when I got in, SPACEEEEE. I can actually have a conversation without being bothered about everyone else in the restaurant listening to me. Another new addition is the bar, which I think is a perfect idea as it made me realise I had never paid attention to the cocktail menu.
So, I decided to do a review.
The cocktail menu is pretty short which isn’t a problem, as I wouldn’t have expected an extensive list. There are six cocktails on the menu and they are mostly HSE’s take on well known cocktails. For example, there’s the Long Beach which is a twist on the Long Island. Then, there’s the Lemon Grass Mojito which is just a twist on a regular Mojito. I liked the idea, as I am one for always putting a twist on cocktails and playing around with different taste notes.
Being a lover of spicy, herbal and citrus cocktails, I decided to order the Grapefruit Jalapeno Margarita, Lemon Grass Mojito and the Cool Mule.
According to the menu, the Grapefruit Jalapeno Margarita is a classic margarita with jalapeno and grapefruit. I have tried a spicy jalapeno margarita before and I loved it so I was really interested to see if they’ll get it right and also how the grapefruit would be used.
I did not like this cocktail at all.
On first sip, I just tasted jalapeno. It was so spicy and tasted like a mix of jalapeno and water, which wasn’t surprising as there was quite a lot of chopped jalapeno in the cocktail. I decided to give it a stir and taste it again and then the tequila came out. Then, it tasted like tequila and jalapeno with ice. The grapefruit was basically absent but when I kept sipping, I could taste a hint of a mixer that I couldn’t really figure out. I decided to ask the bartender and he said it was topped with apple juice, which was just so confusing to me.
I was really disappointed because this cocktail had so much potential. It would have worked if HSE muddled a chunk of grapefruit and jalapeno before adding the tequila and lime juice. Also, grapefruit juice not syrup. Syrup upsets the whole “fresh” balance.
TL; DR: A big fat massive “NO” for this cocktail.
The Cool Mule is a classic Moscow mule but infused with watermelon and watermelon liqueur. I was expecting it to come out in a copper Moscow Mule mug and unfortunately, it didn’t. A lot of bartenders and bars in Lagos do not know that it is impossible to separate the drink from the glass it is served in.
Whisky is always enjoyed in low-ball glasses; a Martini in a long stem wide brim glass and Moscow Mules should be served in a copper mug. I’d expect a lot of bartenders and bars to know that copper mugs are a big part of the experience. For starters, they are ideal for maintaining the temperature of the drink and also enhance the flavour profile of the vodka + aroma of the drink.
“No copper mug” aside, the Cool Mule was pink and it looked pretty, so I see people being interested in trying it out.
I tasted the cocktail and, honestly, I wasn’t blown away. It just tasted like a good enough Moscow Mule and watermelon. Again, this is another drink that I think could have been mind blowing but just wasn’t done right. There was completely no need for the watermelon liqueur as it just made the presence of the watermelon a bit too much.
For me, it would have been perfect if they had just used a good portion of fresh watermelon juice, vodka and lime juice. The mixture should have been poured into a COPPER MUG and topped with ginger beer. I also don’t get why it was not garnished with a watermelon wedge. It would have been so perfect with mint.
I also think they should try a Frozen Watermelon Moscow Mule. I tried a frozen pineapple Moscow mule once and it was AMAZING! The blend of the pineapple, vodka, ginger beer and lime juice was just perfect.
My final drink was the Lemon Grass Mojito. I have to mention I am not a fan of mojitos especially in Lagos as you usually just get an overly sweet drink with a lot of leaves. However, the lemon grass got my attention.
I asked the bartender how he made the drink before I tasted it and thankfully he mentioned that he mashed up the lemon grass stem but I rolled my eyes when he said he also used lemon grass syrup. I do not have anything against syrups but the problem is a lot of Lagos bartenders do not understand the concept of a sweet cocktail. The mojito already has sugar in it so the use of the syrup made me a bit worried.
I got my drink and the first thing I noticed was there was just too much going on in it. The bartender said he muddled the lemon grass stem but I could see large chunks of lemon grass stems at the bottom of the glass and then of course the usual excess leaves that Lagos bartenders love to put in mojitos. I tasted the drink and well the lemon grass was really present which I kind of liked but overall it was too sweet for me. The sweetness, citrus and mint flavours of a mojito are supposed to compliment the rum and not completely over power it. However, if you really have a thing for really sweet cocktails, you can go for the lemon grass mojito.
Overall, I think i’ll be sticking to food at HSE. My seafood linguine was still A1. It would be great if they worked on the execution of their cocktails though, because there is a lot of potential.
Good for: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner as long as you want really good food.
Food: Full kitchen
Happy Hour: No | Bottle service: Yes | Wine: Yes | Beer: No
Grapefruit Jalapeno Margarita - N3300
Lemongrass Mojito - N3300
Cool Mule - N3300