Drink Lagos: Utopia
Utopia fancies itself a resto-bar. With owners from Lebanon, Utopia has a very alternative Arabian vibe and it's very intentional too, from the vintage music to the beaded curtains. It has this traditional restaurant-with-bar-as-backdrop that’s just so 90s. The exterior is a throwback too, or maybe it's just old because there was some renovation going on.
Bars in Lagos will continue to dominate the hospitality sector because they understand the target market — an overworked population looking for an escape. We just want some alcohol and a couple of Instagram pictures.
I went with a colleague after work, which coincidently fell on International Women’s day so we performed accordingly. How we didn't end up ordering the Lady Killer and the Lack of a Better Man is Hamada, our bartender's fault. He said we deserved better.
PS: Those are real cocktail names.
Anyway, while we waited for our drinks, we were served strawberries dusted in powdered sugar. Fancy!
Remember when Zenbah claimed to be the only tiki bar in Africa? It turns out Utopia has an interesting range of tikis with spectacular names. For our first drink, Hamada made us the House of Zombie - Utopia’s version of Tiki Puka Puka with lemon, orange juice, grenadine syrup and the legendary spiced, white and dark rum.
The appeal of any tiki cocktail is in the way it's presented. More often than not, it's in an overly dramatic mug and contains a concoction of rum and fresh juices. Tiki culture is what happens when millennials try to reconcile obsessions: juicing and binge drinking.
House of Zombie was definitely a fresher version of Tiki Puka Puka. It starts off with quite strong notes which the orgeat and "rums" mix take credit for. It's a richer version than Zenbah's. As you settle towards the bottom of the drink, your straw picks up particles of ginger which I love. This is what you'd want when you're on antibiotics and suffering from a bad cold and sore throat. The spiciness of the ginger gives the illusion you're maybe healing your glands. Don't drink when you're on antibiotics medication anyway. I drank this for over an hour because It was hard, thank goodness for the long-lasting ice so I didn't have a diluted mess.
For our second drink, Hamada made us a Wood Eye, another tiki. Made from gin, a first, I have not quite had anything like it. If you’re a fragrance lover, you’ll love this drink. It’s served with cinnamon on top that is set on fire, like a blunt.
First sip and lime particles slap you with the heavily perfumed cinnamon. I like to think this is what incense would taste like if it was a drink poured into a glass - exotic.
Wood Eye is a rare cocktail that stands without ice and definitely doesn't need it. The only downside is that the smoked cinnamon gets too overpowering and a bit tedious after some sips.
Also, if you hate lime, this isn’t for you.
Hamada enjoyed our company so much he decided to gift us with jellyfish shots. One of the best things about going out for just drinks is sitting by the bar. You usually get the best from experiencing your drinks come alive right in front of you.
As a bartender passionate about his craft, Hamada was especially proud of his jellyfish shot. It was essentially about layering and still hands. He started with the crème de cacao at the bottom; layered with the amaretto; then the baileys and tiny drops of grenadine, which formed tiny fishes at the bottom of the shot glass. It was beautiful to watch and tasted even better.
Good for: Dinner - Pre-Drinks – Groups – Late Night Drinks
Food: Full Kitchen
Happy Hour: No | Bottle Service: Yes | Wine: Yes | Beer: Yes
Wood Eye - N5000
House of Zombie - N5000
Christina is a TV and Film junkie who also spends an incredible amount of time reviewing skincare products she can barely afford.