I’ve heard that RSVP is the best place to eat and drink in Lagos, I assumed it was a rumour so naturally I didn’t believe it.
(Ed Note: RSVP has been Nosa favourite restaurant for 3 years and counting)
That was the reason I never visited despite its close proximity to my previous work place, oh and that it costs a fortune.
After exploring the drinks at South with Folarin, we decided to have the Moscow Pony to compare this vodka variation to South’s gin based London Berry Bramble. Remember the phrase “If a Moscow mule was British”? and the lecture on gin is to London as vodka is to Moscow? Well, let’s delve right in.
The Moscow Pony is RSVP’s twist on the classic Moscow Mule made with vodka, spicy ginger beer, and lime juice typically served in a copper mug. Due to the spicy undertones in this cocktail owing to the ginger, vodka and lime, serving it in a copper mug makes absolute sense as it helps to regulate the temperature of the drink for an extra-cool sensation which makes perfect sense in this extremely HOT Lagos.
Ed Note: If you haven't you should read the Drink Lagos review on the cocktails at South here for "context".
There’s no stark similarity between this and the Bramble at South, asides the ginger your straw picks at the end of your mug. I tried to hate on the vodka but this night wasn’t it.
I’m also not admitting I prefer this to the gin version but just stating they are not the same.
Unlike the Bramble that has clear roots in Dick Bradsell’s London, the origin of the Moscow Mule isn’t quite clear. Although a similar feature from all the stories always had a bunch of guys at a bar who combined all they were drinking and discovered magic. I’m not sure where the magic is in three basic ingredients but RSVP’s version will have you saying a prayer for these guys, wherever they are because it was a fantastic invention.
Fun fact: Our mixologist, Jerry stated this was the first cocktail made with the vodka brand – Smirnoff.
Moving on, our next drink the Gin Basil definitely makes top 5 of my favourite cocktails, mainly because it reminds me of a gin and tonic.
I’ve had the same drink at Backyard and liked it but RSVP made me question what I find likeable lol. Now, RSVP's Gin and Basil wasn’t one of those drinks you have to keep returning to the mixologist till you’re convinced it’s strong enough, it did its job almost immediately.
I particularly liked the harmony between the basil and lime not only because this is the excuse I’d give myself to drink away the flu but also cause it’s super refreshing. This cocktail was sweet which the basil takes credit for, it has a strong, pungent and often sweet undertone. It is easy to confuse basil for mint leaves as they come from the same family and just like mint, it is well paired with citrus.
However, Folarin thought it was a bit too lime-y and sour so beware citrus-intolerant-folks! This isn’t the one for you.
Our mixologist, Jerry, kept us entertained with his frivolous claims on their notoriety as the only destination for ‘popular drinks’ like the gin basil lol (oh hey, backyard). He also confirmed he was the first runner up at the World Class Nigeria bartender’s competition in 2017. Good on him!
Our third drink was recommended by Jerry and it revealed to me that there is an entire world of alcohol and food pairing I have no idea on. Jerry made us a Brandy Alexandra (with Remy martins, cream, nutmeg and other secret stuff), because it’s a perfect digestif (post-meal) cocktail. Apparently, this was the specialty that earned him 2nd place at the competition. Remember Monday from Wheatbaker? he did just the same thing read about that experience here.
It was definitely the fiercest drink of the night, props to our parents’ favourite cognac – Remy martins. The cognac was so bulging; the cream couldn’t even mask it. All the cream did was create an illusion of an egg-nog to trick you into taking gulps rather than sips. I hate cream especially in alcohol for 'intolerant reasons' and I wanted to hate this so bad but I totally loved it. The nutmeg sitting at the top of the cocktail was striking, it hits you right at the end as you take your last sip.
Fun fact: Nutmeg paired with alcohol gives you a lot more buzz! No idea why, but you can google it.
e weren't done yet and went in for a fourth drink which also happened to be the most interesting - the Zacapa old fashionned. It's described as "Ron Zacapa 23 years, fresh lime slowly stirred with homemade date and ginger syrup". Apparently, this is one sophisticated rum made by Guatemalan women and despite it’s 23-year signature, which makes up just 5% of the spirit, the rest of it is only aged for about 6 to 8 years. I particularly love molasses rum so this wasn’t an issue for me although I mistook this for brandy at first.
Ed Note: Sounds like false advertising to us
Folarin loved this way too much, in his words:
It came with balled ice (real fancy) and required tiny sips so you don’t get a premature hang over - the long lasting ice is there for a reason so don’t rush, sit back and enjoy! I find that the orange zest which was a substitute for lime may have aided the outcome of this cocktail, I cannot imagine a better pairing. Lime can be too acidic for the sweet palate of this rum but orange zest has about enough citric acid to balance the drink.
Random but interesting, It had a fantastic smell, this isn’t one of those drinks that make you worried for your breath.
To end this wonderful night, we were handed shots of Bloody B which is RSVP’s take on the Bloody Mary. It was described as – Ketle one vodka infused with fresh beetroot, which is such a misrepresentation.
It wasn’t just fresh beetroot but also tomatoes, ginger, turmeric, salt, Worcestershire sauce and a bunch of other stuff you use to make stew all mixed with vodka. It wasn’t all terrible probably because they used quality tomatoes and not the crap I used to get in uni for £2.50. Also, if we were given bigger jars I’d have packed some to make some seafood linguine, how many drinks can you also use as a base for pasta? None.
It's hard to believe RSVP has just made it to my top 5 places to drink in Lagos, and I especially hate how easy they won me over. For RSVP, it surely isn't about making the strongest (and often unbalanced) concoction, but rather creating a well balanced palette that is both memorable and fun. I guess that’s what you get when you have stellar mixologists who are extremely passionate about their craft.
Christina is a TV and Film junkie who also spends an incredible amount of time reviewing skincare products she can barely afford.
Good for: After work drinks - Pre drinks - Date Night.
Food: Full Kitchen
Happy Hour: No | Bottle Service: Yes | Wine: Yes | Beer: Yes
Gin Basil - N3200
Moscow Pony - N3400
Brandy Alexander - N2500
Zacapa Old-fashioned - N4400