The range of whisky on offer is impressive but none of that really matters because the staff's lacklustre enthusiasm for the product provides a seemingly equal counterbalance. It feels cynical. Whereas so many of London's brightest spots now have grown out of someone's unbridled enthusiasm, I get no sense of that here.
Happy hour offers '2 for 1' on a limited range of drinks. I'm intrigued by a Glenfiddich Orchard Slushie (regular price £7) but fearing it might not be as fun to drink as it sounds (a whisky slushie!), we think that pairing it with a drink from the Highball menu (regular price £10) would be the best option. I ask the barman if on the '2 for 1' deal I can have a slushie and a highball. The answer comes back, 'no.' I'm quoting directly here, the barman didn't say, 'sorry, no,' or anything like, he just said, 'no.' As the barman was so abrupt, I thought maybe that was a joke on his part.
So I asked, 'are you joking.'
I enquired why this was not possible. He said there wasn't a button on the till for it. I was simply gobsmacked at their approach to customer service and needs. Look around dude, you've got an empty bar, ever wondered why? It's happy hour, it's empty. It's not happy, it's miserable. Clearly here, the customer is not even close to being right. I don't really blame him though, in that sense, he gives every impression of being a foot soldier obeying orders for a paycheck.
In the end, we agree that I can have a slushie and a highball cocktail but I would have to pay the price of the more expensive drink. Whatever.
As it turned out, the slushie was quite nice, it felt like there was a lot of sugar syrup in it to make it so, but it was still a pleasant surprise. The highball we chose was The Skipper (Talisker Skye, Soda, Black Pepper). I must take some blame here, I selected it because it had Talisker in which I thought would guarantee some bite and that they might do something extra or clever with it. The answer was no, this was simply a whisky and soda with the whisky so diluted as to be meaningless, giving more of an impression that what you were drinking was contaminated rather than constructed. Off key soda water. Looking at it now, the whole Highballs menu is a joke of a cocktail list.
When we started the CC Cocktails stream on the blog, we suggested there were, possibly, no bad cocktails in London anymore, the competitive dynamic simply didn't allow for it. I was wrong, there are, they're at Mac & Wild. Okay, they're a whisky bar not a dedicated cocktail bar but in that case, don't serve cocktails, or at least, don't serve bad cocktails. And true whisky lovers would blush at serving something so insipid.
Mac & Wild have got good reviews for some of their food, so someone somewhere cares. But I guess I'll never get to try the food because on a given Wednesday afternoon in the whisky bar, no one seemed to give a fig. As such, I have no interest in returning ever again, for the food or the drink. London offers too many other places where people do care and are trying really hard: that's where you'll find me.