As a resident of South West London, I equally love and despise Clapham Junction. It is home for me but at the same time conjures up visions of stressful train commutes, swearing traffic, chain restaurants and drunken midnight stumbles to greasy kebab shops. I never quite pause in this area as it is much too overwhelming for me.
CJ has recently seen a surge of fantastic places to eat and drink, which makes this area more than just next to Europe’s busiest railway station. From the refined kebab maestros behind Bababoom to spiritual yoga-cafe Fresh Ground to whisky-curry popup Tiger Dram, the culinary landscape of Clapham Junction is changing rapidly.
One of these exciting places is The Walrus Room. A stylish cocktail bar, Walrus Room is run by three key people – the immensely affable Alfonso Califano (who is also front-of-house), Chef Simon Lamont who rustles up the tasty bites and Simone De Luca who is the man in action behind the bar – quietly creating those smashing cocktails.
Inside, it is dark, intimate and atmospheric. The use of exposed brick and wood is softened with clever lighting and flickering candles. Gleaming cabinets filled with antique crystal decanters and other vintage knickknacks complete the cozy look. Due to the immense popularity of the bar, it is recommended to book in advance.
As soon as you enter, you are welcomed by Alfonso who immediately puts you at ease with his warm smile and extensive knowledge of the drinks. He will recommend you cocktails according to your taste/preference so do ask him for advice. We chat to the team for five minutes and it already feels like we have been mates forever. Behind this swish bar is a warm-hearted and down-to-earth team who are really passionate about what they do.
Signature cocktails are priced at £10. There are beers and wines available as well (though why would you?) as their cocktails and whiskies are just delicious!
Upon recommendation from Alfonso , I ordered The Rose – Aperol, Peach Bitters and Rose Sparkling Wine, served in a flute. It was a very elegant and feminine drink, very popular with the ladies. It was fresh, sparkly and pink, but a mature drink – the fizz interjected with slight bitter notes from the Aperol.
Mr. K kicked off the evening with a rather befitting ‘Dutch Courage’ – stirred with Bols Jenever, Ratafia, Pear Liqueur and Campari. Served with an orange twist, it was blended together quite masterfully.
Next up, I ordered the Clover Leaf – Vodka, Raspberry, Mint, Lemon and Egg White. It was a chic cocktail, with slight tart notes coming from the raspberry but smoothed over by the frothy, lemony egg white on top.
Mr. K tried the Japonica – Wasabi Gin, Maple Syrup, Lemon and Egg White. The sharpness of the wasabi gin (delicious, by the way) was offset by the sweetness of the maple syrup, creating a really exotic cocktail.
Last to make an appearance for me was The Dehli Daisy – Tequila, Elderflower, Lime and Curry. It was not as powerful as I was expecting (which is good) but lethal nevertheless with interesting flavour combinations of sweet, sour and spicy.
Mr. K ordered the Kanto Old Fashioned – Dark Rum, Maple Miso and liquorice bitters. It was a quite an innovative twist on a classic drink that is not to be messed with, and the team have come out trumps.
In between, we tried some of the ingenious bar snacks from the ‘Bits and Bobs section’ – cleverly crafted by chef Simon Lamont. One of them was the very moreish Haggis Samosa – triangles of soft, flaky, slightly blistered pastry filled with dense, full-flavoured haggis. The combination was pure genius and we were surprised no one had ever thought of this before. It was a perfect marriage of flavour and texture – simply mouthwatering.
Over the last few weeks, I have grown quite fond of this little cocktail bar. There wasn’t a single drink in the menu that didn’t make us go wow!
Whilst bravely playing with the classics, the trio behind The Walrus Room have put great care and thought into the ingredients to create a well-curated and ambitious range of cocktails. I would highly recommend this sophisticated boozer for a special celebration, to impress a date or just to enjoy some of the finest tipples. The phrase ‘little gem’ is a cliché but if I was allowed to use it one more time, it will be for The Walrus Room.
More information can be found here.
N.B. I was a winner of The Walrus Room Instagram competition but all views expressed and photographs used in this blogpost are my own (or taken by my partner- credited wherever applicable).