Sounding like a lock combination, Three Six Six are the magic numbers that will grant you access to two houses of splendid drinks. Three Six Six is indeed the name of not one but two bars established in 2013 by two Mexican brothers, Eduardo and Andres de la Mora, in south west London with locations in Earlsfield (on 366 Garratt Lane, hence the bars’ name) and in Battersea (126 St John’s Hill).
I first visited 366 Battersea in March and had wanted to return ever since (for some reason, end of the year tiredness maybe, I told the bartenders I’d last been there over a year and a half ago. That is actually when I first heard of 366…) I finally made it back last week, on the eve of Christmas Eve, while I was visiting my sister for the holidays. The wait and the trip was well worth it!
A short walk from Clapham Junction station, Three Six Six Battersea stands at the corner of St John’s Hill and St John’s Hill Grove. Pass the front door, soak up the cozy and warm atmosphere and admire the white bar with its collection of spirits and homemade bottled ingredients. A mix of modern and vintage, the eclectic decoration is truly welcoming. In terms of seating, take your pick between the front room’s sofas, the stools at the bar or head down a flight of stairs for further seating options and a dance floor.
Three Six Six has not one but two menus.
After a first newspaper edition, the “regular” menu now takes the form of a magazine.
Printed on glossy paper, it starts with an interview of the de la Mora brothers in which they explain their cocktail development process. The process is lengthy, lasting months at times as every infusion, syrup, shrub, tincture and jelly are made in house. As it was, on my first visit back in March, Eduardo, one of the de la Mora brothers, was testing different manners of pre-batching mojitos. See pictures of his attempts at infusing either the rum or the syrup with fresh mint in the gallery above.
Underneath the interview is an explanation of the bars’ logo. The butterfly symbolizes the menu’s five sections, each representing the five core tastes: sweet, sour, salty, bitter and umami.
On the next page are the Negroni and Old Fashioned menus with 5 twists on the classic recipes each. Reading the ingredients for cocktails such as the Goat’s Negroni (Burnt Goat’s Milk Infused Campari, Ortodoxy Colombian Dictador Gin, Cocchi Di Torino, Dehydrated Mandarin Peel) or the Mantis Sorceress Selection (La Hechicera & Havana Selección de Maestros Blend, Pecan Pie & Candied Fruit Syrup, Vanilla Tincture, OLG Campari Bitters, Dried Pineapple) will give you a first glimpse of the de la Mora brothers’s creativity.
Then it’s time to discover the cocktails. The drinks are listed beneath the name and definition of the taste they were inspired by.
There are currently seven umami cocktails to choose from. Will you be adventurous enough to try a Fish & Chips (Mushy Peas Infused Tanqueray 10 Gin, Mushy Peas Infused Noilly Prat Vermouth, Mushy Peas Shrub, Himalayan Salt Ice, Lemon, Vinegar & Olive Oil Essence, Pea Cress), a Mac’n’Cheese ( Cheddar Cheese Powder Infused Velho Barreiro Cachaça, Almond Milk, Apple Juice, Clove Bitters, Nutmeg Powder, Chives, Toasted Cheddar Cheese) or an Aquarium (Mount Gay Black Barrel, Lejay Green Apple Liquor, Bay Leaf & Vanilla & Bajan – Salt, Onion, Thyme, Garlic, Coriander, Turmeric, Black Pepper, Parsley, Marjoram, Ginger, Fenugreel, Cumin, Anise, Allspice, Habanero, Makrut Lime, Cinnamon, Mustard, Mace & Cardamom – Syrup, Orange Zest and Tonic)? If not, your next option is one of the salty cocktails. For example, the Qui-Qui-Ri-Qui, a mix of Kale Infused Quiquiriqui Matatlan Mezcal, Blueberry Cordial, Tamarind Syrup, Lime Juice, Black Mustard Seed Tincture, Frozen Kale, Sugar Salt Powder and Wasabi Nuts. Fancy something sweet instead? Try the 50’s Shaker, a cocktail made of Aylesbury Duck Vodka, Blueberry Liquor, Beetroot Shrub, Ancho Syrup, Lime Juice, #1 Bitters and Beetroot Sugar Dust and served in a sugar dispenser. I had it in March and really enjoyed it even though sweet cocktails aren’t really my thing (I wanted to try something with shrub as it was still new to me). If you’re more into sour drinks, you have the choice between five cocktails, such as the Red Sea (Mount Gay Black Barrel, Cointreau, Cranberry Shrub, Edible Rocks, Gummy, Samphire, Aji Powder and Edible Snail) or the Clementine (Peach Infused Tarquin’s Gin, Celery Bitters, Bay Leaves, Thyme, Clementine Juice, Bay Leaf & Vanilla Syrup, Lemon Juice and Dill). If you prefer your drinks on the bitter side, Three Six Six menu lists three bitter cocktails, such as Bata Vulgaris (Nua Prosecco, Dandelion & Burdock Syrup, Viagra Tonic – yes, you’ve read that correctly! We’ll come back to that later with the second menu – OLG Campari Bitters Top and Swiss Chard). Finally, you can also ask for the monthly special seasonal foraged cocktail, a botanist gin infused with seasonal foraged flora and homemade ingredients.
The last pages of the menu are dedicated to spirits, wine & bubbles, gin & tonics, Japanese Whisky Serves (50ml of Japanese Whisky + Botanicals + Bottled Soda Water + Hand Carved Ice), beers, ciders and soft drinks. The last inside page invites guests to tag their pictures taken at Three Six Six on Instagram. On this subject, you’ll notice Three Six Six social media handles at the bottom of each left page of the menu : the owners have understood the added value of an online presence and regularly publish content on the bars’ accounts.
Ok, so remember the Viagra Tonic from earlier? In the regular menu’s interview, the de la Mora brothers pride themselves for being “the only bar in London with a fetish-themed cocktail menu”, a theme that is consistent with Three Six Six personality: “cheeky, with a little bit of naughtiness”. The “Fetish & Fantasy” menu lists 9 cocktails on a simple sheet of paper. From Sunday to Thursday only, guests can enjoy drinks such as the Gag Ball ( Matusalem Palatino Rum, Yellow Chartreuse, Mandarin Napoleon, Orange Juice, Pomegranate Molasses) or the Fox Plug (Mount Gay Eclipse, Ketchup Infused Lejay Banana Liquor, Fresh Almonds, Viagra Tonic, Chipotle Syrup, Lime Juice). Couples can also ask for a Golden Shower (Saliza Amaretto, Tanqueray Gin, Lime, Pineapple & Grapefruit Juice, Orange Shrub, English Chilli Syrup, Angostura Bitters, Fresh Chilli and Prosecco). As for the Viagra Tonic and Viagra Bitters contained in some drinks, they’re not really made from Viagra. You’ll have to ask the bartenders for their exact content though.
When it came to order, I followed the advice of Uros, the bartender serving me. First I went for a Smoked Fashioned (Bulleit Rye Whiskey, Rebell Yell, Muscovado, Vanilla & Coffee Beans Syrup, Aztec Chocolate & Angostura Bitters, Orange Peel and Three Six Six Botanical Mix Smoke) from the Old Fashioned list. The preparation was quite spectacular. Uros started by smoking Three Six Six special botanical mix inside a milk glass bottle and sealed the smoke by placing a glass over the bottle. He then prepared the drink and fine strained it into the smoky bottle. He allowed the cocktail to sit there for a minute or two for it to absorb the flavours of Three Six Six Botanical Mix. Finally, he served it in a rocks glass with a big ice cube. After watching such a careful preparation, I was excited to take my first sip and it was absolutely delicious! For my second drink I again went with Uros’s recommendation and opted for a Popcorn & Pistacchio from the salty cocktails list, a subtle combination of Popcorn Fat-Washed Wild Turkey 81, Lejay Dark Chocolate Liquor, Pecan Syrup, Lemon Juice, Cocoa Powder, Egg White, Roasted Meringue & Pistacchio Dust. Another excellent drink!
As the bar was pretty quiet with people probably at home packing to fly to the Alps the next day, I had the opportunity to chat with Uros and his colleagues, Yannis et Lucas, and enjoy a few shots of Negroni with them. I spent a really pleasant and relaxing evening at Three Six Six Battersea, unwinding after a long day volunteering with British charity Crisis in a day centre for homeless people. So, you’ve guessed it, if you want to enjoy true mixology wonders in a cozy, friendly atmosphere, head to Three Six Six Battersea (and I’m pretty sure to Three Six Six Earlsfield as well). It might be out of the way but, trust me, you won’t be disappointed.