We’ve made our way back to London’s Chelsea neighbourhood to visit Goat, a nod to what was formerly known as the Goat & Boots Pub. Now it’s a sprawling restaurant and bar, hiding an extra prohibition-style bar serving all of the classics from A-Z somewhere within the venue. It’s known as the Chelsea Prayer Room, and that’s where we met Ivo Drabek for a few drinks, once we’d been given the code to enter. The young Czech bartender hands us a Redcliffe Martini, opting for Lillet Blanc instead of vermouth. It’s perfect. Once we’re comfortably sat next to the bookshelves housing many of the cocktail recipes seen on the menu, we begin asking Ivo about himself.
The plan was always to move to London with a few friends. But the move turned out to be sooner than expected after Ivo left university on the second day of class. “I was going to study math and finance, and as soon as I got there, I realised it just wasn’t for me.” He packed his bags, and with the little English he spoke, set off for London, landing a job at Goat washing pots. After a while, he “started to hate the kitchen” so looked into other options. “I could wash glasses, so that’s how I ended up behind the bar.”
Four years later, he’s still behind that very same bar. He’s graduated from washing to now head bartender after taking a keen interest in cocktails and ingredients. “They really take care of you. If you have potential, they’ll include you and get you interested in things you didn’t know about before,” Ivo says of Goat. Intrigued to know more, we ask about the bar team and wonder how the cocktail menus are put together.
“We have three different cocktail menus.” The one in Chelsea Prayer Room is alphabetical, listing classics that the team have tweaked. The contemporary cocktail menus are for the restaurant downstairs, and the main bar upstairs. The team of roughly ten come together every few months to change one or two drinks before opting for a new seasonal menu four times a year. Each member of the team brings an idea in line with seasonal flavours, fruits and, spices, before they work together collectively to create something new. The bar manager is an avid distiller as well, creating flavoured sprays to rim the glasses, providing extra spice and aroma.
As if servicing three bars wasn’t enough, the team host cocktail classes every Wednesday and Thursday for just £16. A welcome drink is served alongside a thorough history of the cocktail or spirit of the night. Each week explores a new theme, whether that be Drinks from the Titanic or a Cruise to South America, and guests are encouraged to get behind the bar to prepare cocktails served in tasting glasses. That way six cocktails can be enjoyed within two hours, leaving room for dinner which can’t be beat at 50% off. The Cocktail Club is so busy towards the latter half of the year that Goat hosts two per week. But if you’d rather leave the cocktail making to the professionals, we’d recommend visiting on Fridays from 5-7pm where 2 for 1 drinks will easily get you from A-Z on their cocktail menu…
For Ivo, plans on moving back to the Czech Republic are very slim. After all, he’d only seen one cocktail in his life before moving to London. But as he puts it, “I live life day to day. We’ll see what happens tomorrow.” For a pessimistic person (his words, not ours), we’d argue that’s the best advice, alongside trying his Brockmans Bramble after you’ve first sipped on a Redcliffe.
1.Describe Goat in a few words.
It’s like a family business.
2. What’s the best thing you’ve overheard?
I heard a customer once say, “I’ve just shat and vomited in a urinal.”
3. Why is gin so popular?
There’s such a great variety. Even if you don’t like gin, I bet there’s a cocktail we can make that you’ll enjoy. It’s a spirit for everybody.
4. What about Brockmans appeals to you?
I like that you can really taste the berry botanicals.
5. If you could have one last drink before you died, what would you choose?
How about the Elixir of Life? Or a classic Negroni, to celebrate a bitter life.
- 50 ml Brockmans Gin
- 25 ml Lillet Blanc
- 3 dashes of grapefruit bitters
- Pour Brockmans Gin, Lillet Blanc and grapefruit bitters into a mixing glass with ice.
- Stir until well chilled.
- Strain into a martini glass.
- 50 ml Brockmans Gin
- 20 ml Sugar
- 1 Whole Lemon (juice)
- 10 Blackberries
- Creme de Mure (pour on top)
- Muddle blackberries in a shaker.
- Add ice, Brockmans gin, sugar and lemon juice into the shaker.
- Double strain into a glass with ice.
- Pour Creme de Mure on top.
Whilst the cocktails are fairly simple to prepare once you have all of the ingredients and tools, we’d recommend visiting Goat to relax in their Chelsea Prayer Room. Forgive us Father, for we have ginned…