London Cocktail Guide’s choice: VOC, King’s Cross
VOC may not be an obvious candidate for a list of stylish bars but sometimes great effects are achieved through contrast. Its dingy King’s Cross locale ensures this dark wood, brass and glass homage to the 17th century punch house is always a haven. In any case, as a Fluid Movement venture (the team behind Purl and the Whistling Shop), it’s always going to be the drinks that convey the style. Signature serves include barrel-aged beverages and a range of punches, grogs and flips but my favourite is the raspberry shrub. Served in a cork-stoppered flask, it’s a subtle, rum-scented mouthful that evokes a bygone era - a description equally apt for the bar itself.
VOC London to launch grill restaurant alongside punch house bar
By Peter Ruddick
The team behind VOC London have revealed they are transforming the Kings Cross venue to create a new 38-cover grill restaurant which will accompany the existing 17th century punch house-inspired bar.
Owned by the same team who run Purl and the Worship Street Whistling Shop, VOC replaces the somewhat anonymous CellarN1. They've created a seventeenth-century punch house in King's Cross; the quirky space evokes an earlier age of wonder and discovery, full of weathered maps of the world, candles and telescopes. It takes its name from the Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie (better known to us as the Dutch East India Company) and the drinks hail from a similar time period. Punches are the main pull here; these drinks were first popular in the seventh century, carried to England on the back of the spice trade. The drinks menu celebrates this early form of cocktail. There's a huge number to choose from and the bespoke bottled drinks are particularly exciting.
From Fluid Movement, which brought us Purl and the Worship Street Whistling Shop, VOC occupies a smallish, cosy space in one of north London’s most restaurant-intensive precincts. The name derives from the Dutch East India Company, and there’s a nautical and historical theme to the drinks list. Punches based on old recipes figure large, though modern technology brings them right up to date. Playing it safe with the classics is by no means the inferior option, however, as textbook martinis and caipirinhas proved. It took us a while to get our drinks because of lack of staff behind the tiny bar (barely five feet long), and there’s no table service, so you have to queue. But no one seemed to mind. Interestingly, more people were drinking beer or wine than cocktails, at least on our visit. VOC now has a restaurant too, majoring on grilled meat.
With sherry bar Pepito next door, this similarly diminutive hangout is further reason to visit redeveloped Varnishers Yard. VOC is short for Vereenigde Oo-Indische Compagnie (aka the Dutch East India Company) & the cute candlelit cocktail bar takes its inspiration from the Far East for sensational sakés, stirs, barrel-aged infusions & punch. Beautifully presented in covetable stemware, summery bergamot grog is infused with galangal, fresh tobacco leaf & Earl Grey tea, while Walsingham’s interrogation (Tanqueray & mint lengthened with apple juice & ginger) uncovers a secret ingredient – chywanaprash (a sweet-&-sour Ayurvedic tonic oft-referred-to as ‘the elixir of life’). Otherwise, homemade raspberry shrub matured in vintage-style, wax-sealed bottles is a bushy-tailed zinger. The Italian head bartender’s passion is tangible & his attention to detail pays dividends.
VOC Takes its name and seventeenth-century maritime theme from the Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie, more commonly known as the Dutch East India Company which, from 1602, enjoyed a lucrative monopoly of the Asian spice trade
During the seventeenth century, punches were a big deal. Traditionally made with five ingredients including a spirit (either Dutch gin called genever or arrack made with coconut palm), punches have made a come back at VOC with the involvement of Fluid Movement (the team behind Purl Marylebone and The Whistling Shop in Shoreditch), a collective of award winning mixologists and drinks enthusiasts.
Since opening in 2009, VOC has created a phenomenal range of drinks inspired from a bygone era with a modern Interpretation, using seasonal produce and the latest molecular mixology techniques.
Yes, I most certainly was interested, so last night we headed over to Kings Cross for our dinner.
Kings Cross Station is a hub of mayhem, the Varnishers Yard where VOC is located; an oasis of calm and tranquility.
Stepping into the courtyard off Pentonville Street your’e not only taken back in time to a more relaxed era, but into a tiny corner of one of London’s many historical areas. Read more at the link below.