Literally hidden below the grounds of Smithfield Market lies Oriole, one of London’s newest and highly anticipated speakeasy bars. The capital already loves its older sister Nightjar, and it's safe to say Oriole has won the heart of Londoners, too.
Oriole welcomes you with curtains and a very distinct level of swankiness. The interior is dimly lit and covered in gold accents, a very glamorous touch. There is a nearly perfect mix of high and low tables depending on the type of company you’re heading out with, and there's no such thing as a bad seat in the house here either. There are plenty of seats in the front of the house with a perfect view of whichever live ensemble is playing that night, grab these early and soak in the intimacy of Oriole's atmosphere. Bartenders and staff sure know how to make mixing up cocktails energetic and exciting; both your eyes and ears will thank you for stepping foot into this cocktail bar.
The Food & Drink
Before I even begin talking about the cocktails, I need to take a moment for Oriole’s small plates. If you were looking for the booziest review in the world just hang tight. The Tamarind Glaze Pork (£11) is a MUST. ORDER. My guest and I had ordered other small plates but if I could go back in time, I would order multiples of this dish. Very tender and perfectly glazed, the dish comes even more perfectly paired with Kiruna (£14). Cocktails at Oriole are a show to watch and presentation is first class all the same. When this drink arrived there was a burning cider root at the top of the glass with a beautiful aroma. Presentation didn’t stop there. The Karachi Sour (£12) was served in what looked like a sea shell and certainly needed two hands to properly consume. The cocktail menu follows the same theme as Oriole does with the New World and Old World influence. The menu is divided amongst continents and regions, all with cocktails from its respective inspiration. Images of the drinks (and their already mentioned gorgeous presentation) accompany each cocktail description to make sure all your senses are tickled until you can’t figure out what you fancy.
Does Oriole actually make guests feel like they’re on a journey to the New World? Not quite, but that doesn’t mean the atmosphere isn’t incredible. The low ceilings and lighting make the entire space feel exclusive and swanky. If Oriole transforms you to any state, it is the state of glamour while enjoying a quirky cocktail and the musical sounds of brass jazz at front of house. Sometimes grabbing a drink is simply about the experience, but Oriole serves up the experience and the great cocktails to match.
Overall, Oriole is a cocktail lounge that simply can't be missed. If you live a glamorous lifestyle, be a regular. If you’re looking for a place to celebrate a special occasion or want to treat yourself, look no further. Make a reservation and check out the live music for the night. No matter who is on the calendar it will be loud, proud, and an absolutely great night out. The experience is worth the extra cost and the taste of cocktails (and the glaze pork) will linger; no complaints here.