Nightjar is surreptitiously squeezed in between two greasy spoons on City Road, near Old Street Station. This bar is a hidden gem filled with an air of desire and attraction, a cabaret den for music and magic.
Once allowed in, you follow the steps downstairs and are greeted by a sultry hostess and taken to your seats. The interior is typical speakeasy: velvet sofas, dimmed lighting and a low ceiling. If you can, try to sit at the bar where you can see the mixologists at work and challenge them to create you a bespoke drink. It is a stylish venue and guests often dress up for the occasion. Dressed in drab work clothes, I felt painfully low-key so trotted off to the loo before my friend arrived to doll myself up a bit and apply a bit of much needed lippy. This is the kind of place where lipstick is a must.
Nightjar offers my two favourite things: cocktails (obviously) and tapas… authentic small plates of yummy treats for peckish visitors. In need of something to nibble, we ordered a Charcuterie plate and a Manchego cheese board, a substantial snack which was perfect for picking. They arrived promptly, rustically presented on artisan wooden boards with olive oil and cornichons. The food was delicious, the kind of meat and cheese you would find in a top deli.
Cocktails arrived with little amuse-bouche snackettes and glasses of water. The choice is dazzling, there are too many weird, wild and wonderful creations to choose from, I felt overwhelmed and a little sad that I would miss out on so many. Explaining our preferences for rum and gin, the coquettish waitress advised us on suitable combinations and I was too weary to challenge her suggestions. Beachcomber’s Punch (buttered Bacardi 8 year rum, mamajuana cordial, splash absinthe, fresh pineapple juice, mastiha honey, fresh squeezed lime, chia tea and soda) for me and the Kama Aina (G’vine Floreaison gin, elderberry infusion, triple sec, mastiha honey, fresh squeezed lime and sparkling coconut water) for my friend. They were both spectacular, each presented beautifully. Mine was served in an exotic towering high cup with crushed ice toppling over the brim, burnt coconut, a carved cyclinder of pineapple, and a cherry, dusted with a mysterious spice. The drink was strong but soothing, a fruity concoction with a softness from the honey and tangy twist from the lime and absinthe. The gin drink was enchanting, arriving on fire – we knew at once the taste would be equally dramatic! It is a summery cocktail, perfect for the beach with a wonderful hint of elderflower and coconut, an innovative combination of flavours.
The prices at Nightjar are high, especially for Shoreditch, with most drinks costing around £10. However as soon as you have seen the stunning concoctions and the flair and attention given to each and every glass they seem worth the expense. Suddenly supper doesn’t seem so important, when the money could be spent on another masterpiece drink.
We were tempted to stay for the musical entertainment, but the start time was just a little too late, especially for a school night. So wandered out woozy and jolly into the night. Nightjar offers some of the most glamorous cocktails in town, I’m already planning my return visit.
Visit the website here for more information.