David Ellis, On the Sauce at Bar Mistura: Somewhere for drinking and flirting and stumbling home

·3-min read
Latin American all-stars: Pisco sours are among the classics on the menu (Paul Winch-Furness)
Latin American all-stars: Pisco sours are among the classics on the menu (Paul Winch-Furness)

I’ve been thinking about cash a bit lately, mostly because all of mine seems to have deserted me. Moving place, I’ve got lawyers and estate agents and all those other old rope merchants rummaging through my out-goings; Natwest would be happier sorting me a mortgage if I could get myself barred from the Coach and Horses. I’ll keep you posted.

And while if it’s worth it, I’ll pay it, the fiscal horrors have me wondering when £12 or so became the marker of a decent drink, or why, exactly, we’ve let hotel bars say with a straight face that martinis should be £20. Price, then, is part of why I like Bar Mistura as much as I do. Pisco sours are £8.50; mojitos and caipirinhas are £9; nothing greedily claws at more than £10.50. It isn’t, then, somewhere for one and done – they want you to stay. “We’re licensed till 1am,” says the manager, a chatty guy called Alessio, “We stay open till people want to finish drinking.”

My kind of thing. That’s the other reason I like it here; it is, in essence, a Peruvian party bar, one found downstairs from the recently revived Andina, which has moved to Commercial Street. Fitting for this week, too; yesterday marked 200 years of Peru’s independence (you think you’re busy? José de San Martín, the general who pulled it off, was merrily on his third liberation, having already prized Argentina and Chile from the understandably aggrieved Spaniards). Anyway, it’s good to have Martin Morales’ place back; it was a shame for Shoreditch to lose out, even if the closing announcement came with an enjoyably catty swipe at the landlords: “We were exemplary tenants,” they huffed on Facebook, “but the attraction of some big shot money was stronger and more important than saving our restaurant and our jobs.”

Ah well. It all worked out in the end. Mistura opens only on the weekends, and Friday nights are the one. Late on, it fills with those after a good time; the music goes up, sometimes a DJ plays. Soon, maybe, it will heave here. Let’s hope so.

Money well spent: prices are low but the booze isn’t bottom shelf (Bar Mistura)
Money well spent: prices are low but the booze isn’t bottom shelf (Bar Mistura)

Though a new mural adds a little beauty to an otherwise bare room, there is a simple lack of stuff that hints the budget went elsewhere. The bottles behind the bar confirm it: prices are low but the booze isn’t bottom shelf. There’s the LA pink label of Alipus mezcal; Diplomatico rum; vodka from the East London Liquor Company. You might stumble into the wreckage of a hangover after a night here (and why not? Covid seems to be finally buggering off), but it wouldn’t be the kind fatally compounded by the whip of bad alcohol.

Still, this isn’t the place for science experiments masquerading as cocktails; here, Latin American all-stars are the thing. We sank mojitos, a margarita with enough salt on the rim to wrinkle our lips, mezcal negronis because, well, I have them everywhere (king of these is found at Soho’s 40 Dean Street – but then they did put my name on the menu, so I’m biased).

Though a friend and I once got so drunk on cachaça we were asked, at 4pm, to leave the Camden Sainsbury’s after a sit-down performance of the row-boat song in the meat aisle – I’ll tell you about that another time – in the caiprina’s here, it’s a gentle thing, though with a faux-innocent, too-easy-to-drink character that could unwittingly lead you astray in a supermarket, too.

In other words, Mistura is an honest-to-God, old-school basement bar, one for drinking and flirting and stumbling home – and, chances are, you won’t wake up completely penniless the next morning, either. You have my envy.

Bar Mistura, 60-62 Commercial St, E1. Cocktails from £8.50, wine from £6. Open Thursday to Saturday, 5pm - 1am, andinaceviche.com

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