Drake & Morgan Kings Cross review by Kayleigh Tanner
Tuesday cocktails. That’s a thing, isn’t it? Everyone knows Tuesdays are terrible, and sometimes the only thing to get you through that not-even-halfway-through slump is the promise of something delicious and drinkable at the end of the day.
That’s why I was so excited to be invited along to try out some of the cocktails at Drake & Morgan Kings Cross.
Kings Cross was my stomping ground when I was at university, and it’s incredible to see how much the area has changed since I graduated three years ago. It’s gone from being a little bit blah and grimy to being bright, vibrant and actually quite a nice place to visit now. Gentrification at its finest.
So, Drake & Morgan. It’s literally one minute from Kings Cross St Pancras, which is ideal if you have time to kill before a train. The place is a lot bigger than I was anticipating. Maybe this is just me being out of touch with London, but I felt like we had a lot more space than usual when we were seated. We were on a little raised platform with small dividers between the tables, which is a nice touch if you’re looking for a bit more privacy. The restaurant was pretty much full when we arrived – impressive for a Tuesday in February.
We kicked off with a Ramble Bramble, a feisty blend of Tanqueray, vermouth, sloe gin, winter fruits and ginger (me) and a classic Espresso Martini (my friend). I’m not usually much of a gin person, but I was sold on a) the name and b) the ginger, and I definitely made the right choice. It was punchy, warming, and not even remotely sweet, which is exactly what I look for in a cocktail. The Espresso Martini was smooth, strong and everything you’d expect. Nothing groundbreaking, but that’s not really what you’re looking for when you order an Espresso Martini, is it?
Next up was a little interlude for some food. We went for the cheeseboard and charcuterie platter with bread (we got through frightening amounts – no really, it was a sight to behold). We didn’t really know what we wanted, so we asked the waitress to pick out a selection for us, and she did an excellent job. I really couldn’t fault the snacks, with a special shout out to the sourdough bread – chewy, dense and insanely moreish, especially with the satisfyingly salty butter. We actually got through three plates of it. No regrets. The tangy Montgomery cheddar, fiery salami and melt-in-the-mouth oxsprings ham also deserve special mentions, though really I think we could’ve got through another three plates of everything.
The next cocktails on the agenda were the Cascade, with Tanqueray, pilsner, yellow chartreuse, grapefruit and elderflower (me) and a Goodnight Tommy with tequila, Kahlua, lime and Aztec chocolate bitters (friend). Yes, I know – I went for gin again. Am I even sure I’m not keen on gin? Who knows. Mostly though, I’m a sucker for anything with elderflower, so I know it had to be mine. The Cascade was deliciously, shudder-inducingly sour, while the Mexican-inspired Goodnight Tommy was unusual but in a good way. Definitely an acquired taste, but one I’ve acquired, so I was happy.
Finally we finished on a bitter note – in terms of taste, not experience. We shared a Bourbon-washed Negroni and and Old Fashioned (which I’ve heard are all the rage at the moment). The Old Fashioned was so strong I literally growled when I first tasted it. I think maybe I’m not cool enough for the drink du jour, so I had a go at the Negroni (again, apparently quite in at the moment). I winced, I inhaled sharply, my throat burned. It’s my fault. I’m sure if you’re less of a wimp than I am, these are delicious. That’ll teach me for trying to venture outside my usual ingredient list of elderflower/lychee/raspberry/lime. But they were beautifully presented.
The main thing I liked about Drake & Morgan was the privacy you get. It seems counter-intuitive given the size of the place (it really is massive), but as Jordan Baker said in The Great Gatsby, “I like large parties. They’re so intimate. At small parties there isn’t any privacy”. They haven’t rammed the space full of tables, and I really appreciate that. It’s lovely not to have to sit elbow-to-elbow with other diners, especially in such a busy venue, so it’s impressive that they’ve managed to design the space so well.
I’m also a big fan of the pared-down, unpretentious style they’ve gone for. Clean metals and sheepskin thrown onto chairs gives it a faintly Scandi-chic vibe without being gimmicky or trying too hard – which is increasingly hard to come by in places like these in London. It’s clean and simple and very Instagram friendly – yes, that does matter.
Drake & Morgan’s mix of classic and craft cocktails means there’s something for every palate, and it’s certainly a pleasant place to spend an evening with excellent service. There’s nothing especially new here, so maybe not the right choice for someone looking to push every sensory boundary, but it’s a solid, safe place to go with colleagues or friends in an area teetering on becoming the next big thing in London. Definitely worth a visit if you’re in the area or in need of a post-work pick-me-up to avoid the evening rush hour.