BAR REVIEW: NightJar, EC1
This place is the real deal. Reservations only, opening at 6pm sharp and not a moment before. Names ticked off at the door, and at the bottom of a small staircase, escorted into the bar and seated at a small table next to a impressive looking drinks cabinet topped with some rather elegant bits and pieces that wouldn’t look out of place in an old-fashioned laboratory.
The menu is extensive, inventive, and feels like a veritable ‘history of booze’ – drinks are broken down into categories such as Prohibition and Pre-Prohibition, for example. Of course, the latter are served in a more lavish fashion. An example of this was my first drink, containing gin, electric bitters and seaweed foam, served in a sea shell. It was wonderfully novel, though drinking it out of the shell was tricky, and felt anything but elegant.
My second drink was much more up my street; a straight up cocktail called ‘Waldorf Gloom Lifter’ containing scotch whiskey and Armagnac, mixed with grenadine, beeswax, lemon and bitters.
The portions were good (half empty martini glasses are a pet hate), the music was pleasant and the service was attentive without being over-bearing. The loos were very nice too.
We had the table booked 6pm-8pm. We ended up leaving at 8.10pm after slightly losing track of time (an encouraging sign that the drinks actually had a decent amount of booze in them). The staff were very polite in kicking us off; they didn’t seem flustered, and we didn’t feel rushed.
I’ll definitely be back to NightJar, there’s just way too much on the menu to spend just one night there. It’s not a cheap place to drink of course, but a combination of the service, atmosphere of decadence and quirky ingredients in the drinks make this feel good value to me, especially in comparison to some of the other places around town charging circa £10 a cocktail.