Interview: Mike from Victory Mansion, Stoke Newington
Written by: Sophie Taylor
1940’s style Victory Mansion on Stoke Newington High Street serves four British breakfast themed cocktails with your brunch every weekend. We swung by to meet the man and his band of boozy men behind the Mansion and why this isn’t just another bottomless brunch experience.
Why would you name your restaurant after Wilson’s depressing apartment from George Orwell’s 1984?
“There’s a combination of reasons. We’re all big readers and use literary themes in all of our cocktails. I think there’s a huge correlation between writers of the last century and cocktail culture. A lot of cocktails come into existence or popularity from books. The majority of good authors are raging alcoholics too. It’s a great place to start for inspiration.
We were looking at the 1940s-50s beatnik era of writing from the UK and the States and found a lot of correlation with what we’re all interested in. We liked the way that the English language has changed the meaning of the word mansion from a stately home to describing a large council block. We were essentially turning a small Turkish café on Stoke Newington High Street into something that would be viewed as opulent. We liked the British irony of it. But it took a good six months to try and name the place.”
What the devil’s going on in your basement?
“It was opened just before Christmas for private parties. One day we’d love to open it to the public Thursdays/ Fridays. At the moment it’s a 30th – 40th birthday venue heaven, fitting about 60-70 standing, 35 for sit down dinner.”
Was the décor a joint idea?
“Yes, a lot of the furniture has come from our parent’s houses. Thrown together, kitsch, reminiscent of our grandparents front room and kitchens. We’ve used vintage 1950’s wallpaper from West Germany.”
Tell me about the boys?
“We all used to drink together. And have worked together at some stage. Niall (Downey) ran 100 Hoxton by himself, two of his team members were Stuart (Binks) and Damian who were bartenders at Ziloufs and Hawksmoor Spitalfields, renowned for their cocktail menus. Sam Wilkinson, the Head Chef, used to work at 100 Hoxton, Bentleys, and Ottolenghi, where I used to do a lot of my drinking. I worked in events for about 15 years and we all just figured it was about time for us to give it a go ourselves.”
The bottomless brunch has become very popular recently. What makes yours different?
“We wanted to make brunch fun and keep it interesting for people. It seems very popular to do bottomless prosecco or Bloody Marys. But there’s only so many glasses of cheap prosecco you can drink and one Bloody Mary might be nice but six is a little too much. So we charged Stew with creating four cocktails that were reminiscent of a British breakfast. We’ve got a Mary option that represents the tomato-y British breakfast, we’ve got a tea option which is Luxemburg champagne cocktail (not prosecco) with an Earl Grey syrup. We also do an awesome version of the Espresso Martini called the Victory Coffee with hazelnut, chocolate and cherry flavours to keep it interesting. And lastly, we do a fresh orange fruit drink with Aperol and pink grapefruit sherbert. And you can move your way through all four of them if you like.”
What would you recommend we order for brunch?
“You’ve got your classics like poached eggs, bacon and avocado on sourdough toast, but we also do wicked breakfast sandwiches with meat and veggie options so you can try a sausage patty or a mushroom and sage patty. My favourite is probably kippers– old school kippers and beetroot smash on toast with a little pistachio and orange oil. Or the really posh prawn toast sandwich – burnt miso prawn toast with honey. We recommend that as an addition to your brunch. It’s not your usual eggs benedict.”
Who has been your favourite customer?
“What we love about the area is we get a mixture of people coming in- you’ve got your creative, mature customers from the Stoke Newington area, then your more interesting characters from Dalston. Let me think… Damien!” He calls over to the bartender. “What’s your favourite customer story so far?”
He thinks, polishing a glass. “Mostly explicit. But what about Hurricane Dave?”
Mike laughs knowingly. “He’s one of our business partners. He’s a mess. Lovely guy but he will cause the most amount of aggro without getting in trouble because of his big smile. We named a cocktail after him and have his picture up here – his big grinning face with tongue hanging out that’s on the drinks themselves. So if you order one, he’ll most likely walk up behind you and shove his face next to your Hurricane Dave thinking he’s a minor celebrity. Watch out for that.”
Book yourself in for boozy brunch Dylan Thomas style, Saturdays, and Sundays from 11am – 3pm www.victorymansion.co.uk
Victory Mansion, 18 Stoke Newington High St, London N16 7PL
Photos courtesy of @victory_mansion
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