Founded by Tristan Stephenson — author of The Curious Bartender — and Thomas Aske in 2011, the Shoreditch cocktail bar took its inspiration from the Victorian gin palace, acknowledging the historical tradition in the context of modern mixology. Its particular focus on distillation, barrel-aging, hydrosols, and rotovap (rotary evaporation,) now mainstays of many celebrated London cocktail bars, was honed by Stephenson, Aske, and Ryan Chetiyawardana, who spent 18 months there before launching White Lyan. Matt Whiley, now owner of Scout, also spent some of his formative years at the bar. The Whistling Shop placed on the World’s 50 Best Bars list in 2011 and 2012.
Chetiyawardana told Eater that he: “was so proud to be part of the development of it, and although it sounds big headed, it was way ahead of its time! It’s a shame it’s moving on, but the landscape has shifted so much and bars often have their lifespan. The guys were real pioneers, and they were really supportive of me and gave me such amazing scope to be creative. The bar was hugely important to me, and I believe to the London scene.”
Stephenson, Aske, and Matthew Hastings have since set up Fluid Movement, which spans bars including newly-lauded sherry bar Sack in Shoreditch, whisky bar Black Rock, which is primed for a three-city roll-out. This expansion — and the financial outlay it will require — could explain the motivation for closing one of the group’s most prominent bars.
Eater has contacted Stephenson and London Cocktail Club for comment; the acquisition will bring the latter up to 11 London bars.