The Nightjar, City Road
Novelist F. Scott Fitzgerald said of Prohibition, ‘The parties were bigger… the pace was faster… and the morals were looser.” It lasted an amazing 13 years and led to drinking culture going quite literally underground. Therefore, in true prohibition style, underground is where you will find yourselves when visiting Old Street’s (and possibly London’s) sexiest cocktail-bar The NightJar. Hidden away behind an unassuming wooden door on City Road, this bar, inspired by the speakeasies from that boozy era, is a perfect homage to the period it draws reference from. Prohibition jumpstarted the Jazz age, so allow the likes of Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie to transport you back in time, as you are escorted to a table for two in this seductively lit and super sultry venue.
The drinks menu provides a timeline of cocktail history, running from pre-prohibition drinks such as the ‘Honey Smash’ and ‘Waldorf Gloom Lifter’ right through to post-war party favourites such as the ‘London Mule’ and ‘Red Snapper’. Sounding like nicknames of amateur boxers, some of the drinks, especially from the Prohibition era, pack plenty of punch. The Coalition, a mixture of Caribbean Whisky, Portobello Gin, Sherry, Plum Liqueur and Kina Lillet sounds like it would have enough booze to put you out for the count but it’s beautifully blended to deliver a stroke rather than a smack. Other bars might be content to serve it in a Martini glass but at The Nightjar it came in a hip-flask placed on a glass of ruby coloured dry-ice. The Foragers Shrub, a combination of Bombay Gin, Sauvignon Blanc, Foragers Cordial, Lemon Longan & Jujube Vinegars, is presented like a chemistry lab experiment. The Nightjar draws inspiration from the past, but presents their drinks in modern and exciting ways. Work your way through a few cocktails each and enjoy gawping at other table’s drinks whilst pretending you’re in the Great Gatsby.
Meeting before hand and guiding your date to The Nightjar is essential, as is calling ahead to make a reservation. Meet at Shoreditch Grind for an espresso before the late night ahead. Head onto City road and revel in your date’s wonderment as you lead them through the little black door for several cocktails to break the (dry) ice. Stop off for drinks and ping pong in the hustle and bustle of The Book Club on Great Eastern Street before strolling hand in hand to ‘Vietnamese Brick Lane’ aka Kingsland Road. Chopstick lessons and tales of eastern adventures gone by or yet to come will win your date’s heart. Alternatively, with a proper late license (3am on Fridays/Saturdays) you could reserve a spot at The Nightjar for post dinner drinks so you can enjoy live music deep into the night
It’s a victim of its own greatness so gets very busy. Pre-booking is essential.
4. Sparks will fly – literally! They serve drinks which are on fire (in the sexy way, not the Student Union Sambuca way) for Heaven’s sake.