The food and drink scene in Liverpool is changing.
No longer are we buying the “one size fits all” approach. We’re becoming increasingly attracted to the tailored, the more intimate and the beauty that comes alongside simplicity. In the past few months specialised gin offerings have opened, the craft beer scene is proving we can be a headquarter for hops and behind the scenes there has been a resurgence in a forgotten drink. A drink that wouldn’t be on the first page of Google or have prime real estate at your favourite bars. The drink? Well, cava, of course.
Berry Street is electrifying at the moment. Tribeca, Red Door, Berry & Rye, Neon Jamon and of course, Roja Pinchos, a Northern Spain restaurant inspired by “pinchos” a way to pin down interesting and fresh ingredients on miniature slices of bread. It is basically Spain in a stick and they’ve received critical acclaim from esteemed critics for their moorish smorgasbords. Roja is already cemented within the food and drink scene in Liverpool but a couple weeks ago its little sister was born and it is arguably even more exciting. The restaurant is as relaxed as it gets. Inspired by the Spanish strip, the idea is grab a chair, grab a drink and taste different kinds of pinchos until you find your favourite. The relaxed approach has spilled into the basement and you can now say hello to “Abajo”, a gin and cava cave in the basement of Roja that you must have been hiding under another cava cave to have not heard about.
If we were to say the words “gin and cava cave” to you, what would you do? Fill to the brim with excitement, grab your wallet and throw on some pants? We don’t blame you. The basement itself is like no predisposition you’ve got. Clear white walls juxtapose against blotches of exposed brick with deep red tree-like branches that adorn the walls assimilates the beauty in ordinary. The centre piece of the room is a glass designed solely to collate corks from the bottles that will be popped and drunk over the following months. If only those corks could talk, that’d be some memoirs one day.
It seems as if every spirit is having its time in the limelight and cava could be the next big thing. Prosecco is extremely popular at the moment but there’s something a bit more special about the story of cava. During the process of making cava there is a stage where the bottles have to be turned a certain degree every two days by hand. Whilst many might know cava as something we’ve picked up from the supermarket for under a fiver, it is actually an artisan product and boasts the body and flavour of champagne without the price tag.
We caught up with Ed, proud owner of Roja Pinchos who explained his passion in equal measures (like a perfect gin and tonic) for the Liverpool food and drink scene:
“So often people will come to Liverpool and compare aspects of it to London, to Barcelona and to other “seemingly” better cities. That’s not the point of Liverpool. It doesn’t exist to be compared to these other cities, it is here to compete with and in some instances be better. We’ve travelled to the home of cava in Spain and spent time in vineyards to find the best products and we’re really proud of what we’ve got. Cava is a beautiful drink with so much depth, flavour and variety and our Spanish style gin’s with high-end tonics are also delicious. From main stay London to craft American, we’ve got some products you might not have tried yet.”
The entirety of the building that Rojo and Abajo calls home is intentional in its approach. They want it to be a meeting place. Whether you’re meeting old friends and lovers or making new friends and lovers, do it with a big glass of cava in your hand. In the coming months they will be launching a special gin and cava cocktail menu so keep your eye out for that. Abajo is open from 5pm till midnight on Friday and Saturday so head on down this weekend.