Drink Lagos: Arabesque
I’ve been wanting to go Arabesque for a while now for no other reason than the Arabian vibe it has going on. The restaurant looks like a set from the 50s – imagine a Middle Eastern home in a classic Mad Men episode – the petal themed walls and rustic design will do that to you. However, all of this falls short when you’re reminded this is Nigeria, with the awful smell that plagues most of Victoria Island.
Folarin ordered the A Kurant Affair, while I ordered the Chai Blossom. His drink was a combination of vodka, fresh currant fruit, lime cordial juice, a dash of fruit and soda/lemon juice. As mine, a mocktail had homemade tea, blossom honey, star anise, fresh lime juice and lemon twist topped with soda.
The drinks came in quite overwhelming mugs, perhaps that’s what people drank in during The Great Depression, who knows? Our waiter was a bit confused – either it was his first day or the giant mugs were equally too heavy for him. The ambience created such a feel-good vibe and made us forget we were ever worried about the humongous mugs in the first place.
However, I started to get tipsy and wondered if my 9-5 was finally about to kill me. Folarin on the other hand wasn’t even impressed by the drink as he claimed it wasn’t doing anything for him. So we started dissecting what was in front of us, I argued that his drink in fact tasted like there was some form of currant, as well as Cointreau in it. He obliged and said there was not the slightest bit of currant or berry in there and since he is a connoisseur of berry drinks, I decided to involve the person who had created this misery: our dear mixologist.
As we waited, Folarin delved right into my drink and was convinced there was some form of liquor in it. I couldn’t argue as I had previously written in my notes: “almost suspect there’s liquor in this thing.”
Finally, the man of the hour arrived and presented the menu to show each drink components. Apparently, our waiter had swapped our drinks, and the fact we failed to cross check pissed me off. I wanted to steer clear of liquor that week but look at who played herself.
The star anise present in the Chai Blossom was so fragrant that I assumed it had one of the floral spirits in it, hence the Cointreau debate. It reminded us of our experience at Z Kitchen, which incorporated arak in its Soho-Beirut cocktail. Arak is a west Asian spirit from the anise drinks family, and may vary in alcohol content if brewed at home to as high as 95% – yikes.
If you do remember that review (here, if you don’t), I mentioned the mixologist warned us beforehand as arak is exceptionally complex with heavy fragrant notes that mimic some sort of toothpaste-cough-syrup-methylated-spirit concoction. However, it is always a beautiful delight once paired appropriately. In my opinion, this is how you balance a mocktail especially for a recovering alcoholic as the anise gives it kick that deludes you to think there is in fact liquor. The freshly brewed Lipton tea alongside citrus and soda makes it such a refreshing drink.
The Kurant Affair, which was the drink presented to me was okay-ish. As you must know, my blatant indifference (or maybe hate) for vodka further complicated the drink for me. Vodka, which is typically a bland spirit metamorphosed into a bitter note in this cocktail. I didn’t particularly hate it but I couldn’t stand it either, especially for long – that gigantic glass didn’t help at all. But I guess if you’re a vodka fan, you’d like this.
The final drink was the Arabesque Lux made with vodka, ruby red orange, champagne, strawberry syrup and brown sugar. Apparently vodka is a favourite among Arabic people, says the mixologist: “That’s why the spirit is all over the menu.” I don’t think I’ll be visiting a russian bar anytime soon as well. Folarin had most of it and when I asked him for his notes he stared into space and so we’re just going to agree it wasn’t that memorable – perhaps an indication of glaring indifference.
Good for: Dinner & Drinks
Food: Full Kitchen
Happy Hour: No | Bottle Service: Yes | Wine: Yes | Beer: Yes
A Kurant Affair - N2300
Chai Blossom - N2000
Arabesque Lux - N4500