Having been made to understand that beer is nothing but a “boring drink”, I was invited to step into Daniel Alexander’s fantastically kaleidoscopic world of cocktail beverages. Given the task of making the newest and swankiest bar and lounge in town truly stand out; Daniel has done exactly that with a sense of gusto. Truth be told, I’m a fan of all things al fresco and 7 degrees North which is cosily cocooned within Cinnamon Lakeside offers you that. Modish and avant-garde in its design with cool and refreshingly lighting tones of cerulean blue and vanilla white nicely decorating the interior of the bar, one would feel this is one location that is almost Monaco-esque in its ambience. 7 degrees North really is the place to be, and testament to this train of thought was the various glitterati of Colombo who graced this spot. But my sincerest apologies to those who are reading this, I am digressing from the main attraction of this article who happens to be none other than Daniel himself. This is no ordinary bloke, rather he could be defined as a globe trotter who lives by one statement of belief, which is – mixology.
Surrounded by the eclectic sounds of the band Dimension who were belting out a soul stirring rendition of “Members Only”, Daniel elucidated to me with glint in his eye his love for cocktails coupled with his need for adventure. No surprise really that Daniel has come back to Serendipity, after all with a father who’s British and a mother who is Sri Lankan, this aficionado of mixology is celebrating his roots in style. Affable and gentlemanly, Daniel explained to me with sincerity why his travels have influenced his cocktail concoctions. I would know since he graced me with two subliminally mixed cocktails. The first was a Raspberry Mojito that was a tantalizing journey across various taste sensations. Bursting with flavour, the raspberry complemented the heady bite of mint leaves as the fine base of this drink that is vodka left me grinning from ear to ear and my toes tapping away. Oh yes! 7 degrees North really is a happening place. With Daniel dispatching hilarious anecdotes about his travels with that typical Cockney accent of his, all that one could want more was…more drinks!
And a drink I got. Forever a fan of the classic Mai Tai, I got my wish to enjoy a real authentic one. Purportedly invented at the Trader Vic’s “Polynesian-style” restaurant in Oakland, California in 1944, the Mai Tai has become a well known staple in any cocktail list. I cherished it for its tangy orange flavour, its grinding punch of white and dark rum delivered with a sympathetic slap if you will and that unique after taste of sticky sweetness. Trader Vic are the ones who created this masterpiece and Daniel took me on a giddy journey through history to explain to me what a real Mai Tai consists of. And trust me on this…whether it’s a Mai Tai or a Long Island Iced Tea, you are assured of tasting the authentic thing thanks to Daniel’s expertise.
But what is progress if not for evolution, Daniel has got this worked out too, scarcely having started work he is already devising and perfecting that elixir of sorts which only we Sri Lankans would be proud of…a cocktail that has its base with Lanka’s own liquid gold – arrack! Since a decent gaggle of beautiful people had arranged themselves classily near the bar waiting to taste that first sip of cocktail heaven, Daniel bid me adios promising me more cocktails and equally heady conversations in future.
His place at my table was filled in by Mr. Wishvakeerthi, who is none other than the Manager of this fine establishment. Telling me about the quality of its processes to the superb levels of customer service, this was a gentleman who had vast pastures of experience behind him. Thanks to his service and dedication, 7 degrees North has indeed become the hottest pub in Colombo. It was turning out to be a busy night and very soon he too was drawn to meeting the needs of many a customer, charming and smiling his way around. As I bit into that very first chorizo marinated well with a hint of cilantro, I recognized this place for what it is – a testament to absolute class. One more sip of Mai Tai remained… To 7 degrees North and its star attraction, Daniel – Cheers!
Note: This review was previously published in the Esteem Magazine.