Drink Lagos: Z Kitchen
We almost missed out on Z Kitchen’s hype cause some security guy thought the kitchen was overwhelmed with orders and didn’t want to let us in. Well, thank goodness we were more interested in the bar.
Ed Note: I’m so tired of overzealous security men in Lagos. That’s one ‘trend’ that needs to die by December.
To start, we had the Zobotini which was a mix of Tanqueray gin, martini-dry, fresh zobo juice, ginger, and lemon juice. It was definitely a solid 9.9/10, if you’re a zobo lover anyway. It was a more thoughtful and edgier way to enjoy the amazing notes that makes zobo everyone’s favorite drink!
The zobotini is a martini variation and although I was worried about the dry of a martini being magnified by the ginger, it worked quite well. Tanqueray gin is usually distilled with four botanicals: juniper, coriander, angelica root, and liquorice. I hate all the four ingredients, especially coriander as it tastes like soap.
The moral here is that you can always make magic from garbage if you have faith. The drink would have been ordinary without the dry martini that complemented the botanical elements of this gin. It was absolutely rich, exotic and freaking elite. Folarin, of course, endorsed this because he thinks he’s bougie.
He ordered the Victoria Island, which was really a sophisticated Long Island. We went on and on about how not-so-great the cocktail was for a drink that claimed to have the masterclass - Zacapa. Folarin didn’t want to have another bad cocktail experience so tried desperately to force himself to taste the non-existent rum. Only for our bartenders - David and Tony to deliver us from our misery and admit that the Zacapa was replaced with Bacardi.
By now, we had lost it. So we interrogated this coy act and demanded an explanation, which they claimed was a mistake. Later, we would learn that the cocktail was invented during their launch, which the rum brand was a partner to. My own is, did they realise they couldn’t afford Zacapa and swapped with Bacardi whenever they saw a group of people they hoped didn’t know their liquor?
Because I’d like to imagine that if it was a typographical error, you’d fix your menu as it’s your debut in the hospitality business, especially when a cocktail goes for almost N5000. The Victoria Island claimed to have Ketel One vodka, Zacapa 23 rum, pineapple juice (coughs at pineapple chivita), tequila and ginger on the menu. Imagine how much more extraordinary this cocktail could have been if it stuck to its script?
Now the most elite out of all the cocktails was the Soho-Beirut – easily one of my best. I know you’re probably calling me a liquor whore but it is what it is. If your taste buds aren’t accommodating to heavily fragrant drinks then please by all means, look away. Or take some notes so you know what to avoid.
So we learned that the Soho-Beirut was a Lebanese twist by the Z Kitchen’s owner. It had Tanqueray gin, Lebanese arak, fresh basil, orange blossom and lemon juice. Our mixologists warned us beforehand and made us taste the arak as most customers returned the drink due to its heavy fragrant notes. I have to agree it was quite complex. But if you’ve met me you know that’s something arak and I have in common.
It was like a mojito, with lots of mint or basil (can’t remember which) that almost made it a vegetal drink. At some point I had a lot of leaves in my mouth like I was having a salad. Folarin mentioned the arak on its own tasted like toothpaste and cough syrup and to be honest it wasn’t farfetched. But with the other mixers it was absolutely delicious.
The consistency mimicked the cloudy texture of a lychee although with a lingering spiciness that the ginger made potent. Orange blossom also accompanied the umami kick – there was absolutely something savory about this cocktail. You can toss it in your dill and cucumber soup and I’m certain your guests will love it! Again, this was the most underrated drink that turned out to be a real darling in a glass - moral lessons for the underdogs.
The Bacardi and Zacapa drama got us a complimentary drink and we like to give people second chances lol. When made properly, the drink was so amazing and almost better than RSVP’s Zacapa Old Fashioned. Z’s version had the aged rum, cardamom syrup, and lemon juice. The mixologists randomly named it Ikoyi i.e a better variant of all that the fake Victoria Island promised but couldn’t deliver.
In the RSVP review, I initially mentioned orange zest might have been a better supplement for the Zacapa than lemon or lime due to its acidity but that wasn’t the case. This, on the other hand, created an earthy and refreshing palette, kudos to the cardamom syrup! It could also be that we just like the sound of Guatemalan women fixing us a rum because women handle liquor better.
For our last drink we struggled between the Passion Loft that happened to be the most popular cocktail on this afternoon and the Smokey Head. We opted for the latter because Folarin thought the Passion Loft was too simple with just vodka, fresh pineapple and passion fruit. So instead we picked the drink with Captain Morgan’s spiced rum, sour mix, fresh pineapple juice and fresh mint. But because our mixologists were overly-smitten over the Zacapa and Bacardi fight, they had opted for zacapa instead of captain morgan’s spiced rum like the usual recipe calls for. It was upsetting as this drink tasted almost like the complimentary one they offered earlier.
I don’t know why people refuse to understand that the point of ordering what you see on a menu is so you get what you see on the menu! Because imagine an opportunity were we get to compare the disparities between spiced rum and a much aged rum. On a good note, it was similar to the Japanese melons in South’s The Christina, the totally random drink our mixologist customised.
On the whole, Z Kitchen’s exciting approach to cocktail making was a good experience but I can’t help but hope that as it settles into the hospitality scene, it lets go of the initial anxiety and concoct drinks with its chest!
Good for: Dinner & Drinks, Date Night
Food: Full Kitchen
Happy Hour: No | Bottle Service: Yes | Wine: Yes | Beer: Yes
Zobotini - N4000
Soho Beirut - N4500
Smokey Head - N3500
Victoria Island - N4500
Christina is a TV and Film junkie who also spends an incredible amount of time reviewing skincare products she can barely afford.