Going Out with... Mia Kumari of Satan’s Whiskers

 (Press handout)
(Press handout)

At a time when the art of tending bar seems to be waning at many of the city’s high end cocktail bars, Satan’s Whiskers’ Mia Kumari is a reminder that not all hope is lost for the next generation of drink slingers.

Despite her aptitude for creating intricate cocktails, she’s not overly caught up in the mixology nonsense that many up-and-coming bartenders are fixated on, at the expense of hospitality. She’s got a fine repertoire of chat, anticipates the needs of her guests, and welcomes every person at Satan’s Whiskers with a warm and eager smile that makes them feel like they’re exactly where they’re supposed to be: London’s world-class, classic cocktail bar.

After stints at Homeboy and the American Bar at The Savoy, while simultaneously garnering multiple awards including Bartender of the Year at the 2023 Class Bar Awards, Kumari gained the pedigree that, in the span of just a couple of years, catapulted her from promising bartending talent to one of the UK’s finest.

It’s a far cry from her days of guzzling Southern Comfort and lemonades post-shift during her early years at Bristol bar Milk Thistle, but she still knows that drinks are just a minute sliver of any bar experience. If anything, her years working at some of the world’s best bars only reinforced that notion. It’s why when Kumari hits the town for a night out, she ain’t just going for the delicious cocktails — although she’ll tell you where to get those, too — she’s also going for the vibes. And it’s this sentiment that is abundantly clear in her candid going out tips. From nostalgic bites to where she scoffs down pancakes and Bloody Marys with a sore head, Kumari’s got intel as well-rounded as her bartending skills.

If you could only have one drink in London for the rest of your life, which would it be and where?

I love the freezer Martini from Ever After in Hoxton Square (8-9 Hoxton Square, N1 6NU. It's crisp, freezing cold and perfect for pre-or-post dinner. Don't mess with perfection.

Asma Khan of Darjeeling Express (Daniel Hambury/Stella Pictures Ltd)
Asma Khan of Darjeeling Express (Daniel Hambury/Stella Pictures Ltd)

What's your most memorable meal in London and why?

Darjeeling Express (2-4 Kingly Court, W1B 5PW, darjeeling-express.com). Do you remember the flashback the restaurant critic has in Ratatouille? I had that twice in one meal when eating the methi chicken (tomato gravy chicken) and gojjar ka halwa (sweet carrot pudding). It's a dining experience where you can enjoy so many varieties of incredible Indian food while simultaneously feeling like you're sitting in your auntie's kitchen. Such a nostalgic meal while still being executed with refinement.

Where is your favourite place to go for a nightcap, and what do you typically order?

For a cocktail, I enjoy Silverleaf (3rd Floor, Devonshire House, 3 Bishopsgate, EC2M 4JX, panpacific.com). I love the ambience and the team are so considerate. Plus, I love the Cocoa Butter Old Fashioned. For a pint or something a little more local to where I work, the Sun Tavern (441 Bethnal Green Road, E2 0AN, thesuntavern.co.uk), with its rhubarb cider, will be the root to my heart. And live music is always welcome.

Where do you go to eat and drink when you need to cure a hangover?

Honestly, the Breakfast Club (across London, thebreakfastclubcafes.com). There’s one a four minute walk from home. Since it serves all kinds of breakfast food available throughout the day, it’s perfect for when I wake up at 2pm. I love a Bloody Mary and some pancakes.

A sgroppino cocktail at Swift (Swift Bar)
A sgroppino cocktail at Swift (Swift Bar)

What is London's best bar crawl?

East London. Anywhere. Swift (91-93 Great Eastern Street, EC2A 3HZ, barswift.com) for an aperitivo, London Cocktail Trading Company (68 Bethnal Green Road, E1 6GQ, thecocktailtradingco.com) for a beer and/or a daiquiri. Then I head to my place, Satan's Whiskers (343 Cambridge Heath Road, E2 9RA, satanswhiskers.com), for a blended number (usually a Miami vice), then finish at the Sun Tavern for the killer vibes and amazing team there.

What is your guilty pleasure cocktail and why do you love it?

I don't really feel guilty about my choice in drinks. If anything, it's when I order basic drinks like Martinis and Manhattans, but they're usually the cocktails I look forward to the most.

What is one bar in London that doesn't get nearly as much love as it should?

Little Mercies (20 Broadway Parade, N8 9DE, littlemercies.co.uk). It’s tucked away outside of the main London bar scene in Crouch End, but it is well worth the adventure north. The food and drinks are incredible and the process behind their drinks creation is so carefully considered.