High Water

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High Water, London

Walking into High Water, you automatically feel at home. The dark wood, exposed brick, warm-coloured liquid in glass bottles, and friendly smile put you at ease even before you take your first sip. Bart Miedeksza, the head bartender, pours us a glass of water, leans against the back of the bar and awaits the flood of questions to come.

From Poland, Bart began bartending four years ago as he worked his way up behind the bar before joining the High Water family. Family is just the word to describe how the team feels about one other. Captain, the owner, is a Milk & Honey veteran, taking tricks he learned there to create his own ‘speakeasy’.

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High Water attracts seasoned drinkers. Most people know what they want before walking through the door, in part because they’re regulars. The menu changes twice a year, “like a fashion collection,” Bart comments, so as to take advantage of seasonal ingredients. The current theme is Homecoming, where each team member put flavours from their childhood or home country into a cocktail. Bart isn’t big on infusions. “There’s so much you can do without resorting to infusions – if you don’t try other combinations first, you haven’t done your homework.” One of the reasons for this, is so that if someone really enjoyed a cocktail from a previous seasonal menu, Bart will be able to create it with what’s on-hand. After all, High Water should feel like home, familiar.

As part of their non-perishable movement, Bart has moved towards using acids in lieu of extraction, creating fresh juice once the rinds have been used, and transforming lemon and limes into sherbet. What he’s used in our Brockmans cocktail is homemade coffee infused triple sec, a recreation of an espresso with orange peel he first had a Cafe Karma in Warsaw.

High Water Bart MiedekszaDescribe High Water in a few words

We’re like your second home; a neighbourhood bar with a cosy feel, warm smiles and great hospitality. Expect classic cocktails with a twist.

Best thing you’ve ever overheard at your bar?

You know, I read I Served the King of England by Czech writer Bohumil Hrabal, and learned that a good bartender hears everything and sees everything, but hears nothing and sees nothing. But I will tell you one of my favourite moments was when an older British man walked in and sat at our bar. I poured him a glass of water before he looked me in the eye and said, “Fool, I’m not dirty, I’m thirsty. Give me whisky.”

Why do you think gin is so popular?

Gin was popularized when bartenders who created infusions moved on to creating gin. It’s a much easier alcohol to create and I love the variety. You can look at the range of botanicals and pick which flavours you want to enhance, and which you want to play down.

What is it about Brockmans that appeals to you?

Brockmans is an extraordinary gin. It ticks all the boxes in order to be gin, but tastes so different. Every time anyone comes in looking to try gin, I make them a Brockmans and tonic with thyme. Thyme goes so well with wild berries.

If you could have one last drink before you died, what would you choose?

First I’d have a huge meal, and follow it up with a shot of Fernet-Branca. It’s our “Idea Fluid,” and of course a bartender’s handshake.

Negroni a la Karma High Water Negroni

Ingredients

  • 35 ml Brockmans Gin
  • 25ml Cocchi Americano
  • 10ml Suze
  • 10ml coffee infused Triple Sec
  • 2,5ml 1:5 Citric Acid solution

Stir all ingredients with ice, strain up into a cocktail glass and garnish with a lemon zest.

For a taste of home, visit High Water in Stoke Newington…