East London Food & Culture

Paraquet Leyton

Inside The Paraquet cocktail bar, Leyton – and what to order

Everything you need to know about Leyton Midland's new destination - and the best cocktails to order

The season’s most anticipated Leyton arrival is The Paraquet, launching this weekend in the Tilbury Road arches.

Owner Danny Saunders (pictured below) is the visionary local bloke behind the project, and a firm believer in community involvement and collaboration. “I was brought up in Leyton,” he said. “So when I happened to park up here recently and saw there was one To Let, I couldn’t resist.”

Paraquet Leyton
Danny outside Paraquet Leyton. Photos: SE

A fascinating fact, says Danny, is that these arches “were all originally banana storage that used to come from Tilbury Docks, hence the name of the road. Some of our cocktails will have a banana influence, which is a nice bit of continuity – but there’ll be all the usual classics on the menu too.”

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Last night we had a sneak pre-opening preview – and the verdict is that this is an instant neighbourhood smash. Step inside the arch and the lightly tropical themed interior, adorned with foliage, wicker seating, stylish wood flooring and extremely soft lightin,g is divided into different levels to create intimate corners, booths, counters and a more social bar space where you can even pull up a stool and chat to a mixologist. And as for the toilets? You really do have to check them out.

Paraquet Leyton
Paraquet Leyton. Photos: SE

Outside – it is summer, after all – a speedy cocktail hatch, run by neighbouring cocktail-on-tap business Point Cocktails, will serve up classics like negronis on tap (£8 a pop) to up to 200 punters in the car park, every weekend transformed into a huge outdoor bar and garden.

Draft lager is be on tap courtesy of neighbours Libertalia, whose own taproom is just a few metres away on the same stretch, while alcohol-free cocktails come from Kahol Spirits, also based in another unit on Tilbury Road: at Bamboo Mat we were fortunate enough to try both their AF dry gin and whisky, whose flavours are impressive. And food pop-ups will rotate in the car park.

Paraquet Leyton
Paraquet Leyton. Photo:SE

Oh, and if you’ve followed the bar’s trajectory and wondering about the name changes? It’s been a bit of journey name-wise, after originally being called Samoan Joe’s, and then The Parakeet, only for both names to not be viable for various different reasons. Hence the slight – and final – pivot to Paraquet, an alternative spelling of the distinctive exotic bird (that, as ramblers will know, loves to flit about nearby Hollow Ponds and Epping Forest).

Paraquet Leyton
Paraquet Leyton. Photo: SE

As well as comprehensive and well-priced wines (£7 a glass) and Libertalia lager (£5.50 a pint), there are currently twelve signature bespoke libations (from £11.50) on the cocktail menu (classics are, of course, also available). We tried several last night and all are balanced and on point – even for us negroni-lovers who often find cocktails a little too sweet.

The Paraquet: what are the cocktails like?

Paraquet Leyton
Lei-ton Calling. Photo SE

A real highlight is Lei-ton Calling, “a love letter to Leyton”, say head mixologists Peter Lodestone and Luke Connell. And we’re inclined to agree: it’s a short tropical but pleasingly tart twist on the modern classic cocktail – London Calling, created in 2002 at legendary Soho speakeasy Milk & Honey – with Porters Tropical Old Tom Gin, Elderflower, Fino Sherry and Lime Sherbet.

Another classic is the long fruity Paraquet Punch – Hendrick’s Grand Cabaret, Pierre Ferrand Curacao, House Grenadine, Pineapple, House bitters, Franklin & Sons Guava and Lime Soda. “The DNA of a punch is simple,” says Luke, “Sour, Sugar, Spirit, Water and Spice and we have stuck to it whilst incorporating influences from another classic tropical drink, the Singapore Sling.”

Paraquet Leyton
Zombie (left) and a Strawberry Caipirinha. Photo:SE

A must-try is the Zombie, served in unique fashion (order it and you’ll see what we mean). This is a long but powerful hit of three different types of rum – Jamaican, Demerara and St Lucian – with Falernum liqueur, grapefruit, absinthe and lime. Its notes of cinnamon and ginger are slow and lingering, a little like a hug on a damp summer night.

And after all those you might need a pick-me-up: try the Paraquet’s take on an espresso martini, the Espresso Martiki, in which Eldorado 3 white rum replaces the vodka, and notes of coconut add a hint of sweetness, but sickly sweet this is not: it’s a a balanced, grown-up drink.

For a bit of fun you might fancy an easygoing Pina Colada, a Strawberry Caipirinha, zingy with lime rather than loaded with sugar, or even the brilliantly named Budgie Smuggler, a sophisticated East London twist on the infamous Porn Star Martini with hints of jasmine and mango along with the passionfruit and Portobello vodka.

The Paraquet is open Friday 5pm-12, Saturdays 3pm-12, Sunday 3pm-12. Follow @paraquete10.

 

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