Kansas Smitty’s Bar, Broadway Market
Let’s not over-eulogize the décor here. This is a charmingly unassuming basement. Not a single word of overblown publicity or promises of a ‘den’, ‘nest’, ‘snug’ or ‘hideaway’. Despite being possibly one of the most inconspicuous venues I’ve been to lately, not even a whisper of that PR platitude: ‘secret’. Down some stairs, behind a door and a tiny wooden hatch window, there is a bar and a very good set of friendly bartenders. Become a regular and you’ll probably be given your own table. With the possibility that tunes vary from one night to the next, the New Orleans swing will set the tone. Jazz lovers take note: Place To Be.
A julep, or a julep. It’s the only drink they serve here, barring canned beer (and apparently house wine), but don’t let that put you off. There’s one to suit all tastes and spirit preferences, from the classic Smitty’s Julep (Bourbon, amaro bitters, raisin, peach, cassia bark and mint) to the Sleeptime Julep (Scotch Whisky, chamomile, pink peppercorn, raspberry, lemon peel & mint) – perfect for when you need to calm things down. For those who prefer a rum or gin, there’s the divine Jesuit’s Bark Julep (Rum, clove, pimento, lime and grapefruit peel, quinine cordial & mint) or – my fave – a girly Allotment Julep (Gin, nettle, elderflower, carrot, coriander seed, apple, pear & mint).
On Wednesdays, for just 7 bob a ticket, come, drink and listen to some of the finest jazz from the resident Kansas Smitty’s House Band, who after successes at Vault Festival, Wilderness, Hackney Empire, Vortex and Ronnie Scott’s have finally found a home, here beneath Broadway regular-to-many Off Broadway. Don’t be pretentious here, just sit back and enjoy – just make sure you arrive well ahead of time to order at least a couple of drinks each before the music starts at 8:30pm.
The size of the room and popularity of the Wednesday live jazz nights means it’s nigh on impossible to get to the bar during sets. Order up in multiples or try to beat the crowds by arriving early to avoid spending your night waiting at the bar.
3. Joe Webb’s piano solo of My Wild Irish Rose will enchant hardened minds and charm the roaring tone into a quiet romance. Place your requests.