When my current squeeze and I first started dating, we had a movie night which included a watch of La La Land. As I sat there unashamedly perving on Ryan Gosling, we made a bet – that my chap wouldn’t be able to teach himself piano and learn the theme to La La Land to the level that Gosling did, in 5 months. Since then, we’ve been unwittingly recreating a few moments from that film to keep him inspired for his mission, including a visit to The Basement in Shoreditch for an evening of music and cocktails…
A specialist coffee bar not far from Old Street Roundabout, upstairs is small, with a few tables available for enjoying hot drinks and small bites. Though aesthetically pleasing and fittingly rustic for the area, it’s easy to pass this off as just another quirky hipster-styled coffee shop, but it is what hides beneath that makes this place a destination really worth visiting.
Down some narrow stairs you will find The Basement, which hosts no more than 15 tables in a room lit by purple spotlights and decorated with old photographs of Jazz legends from days gone by. There are candles on the tables, and a small stage at the back of the room. It is intimate and sexy, and an excellent date-night spot.
We sat at a table for two at the back of the room, which was still only a few paces from the front of the stage. There isn’t a bad seat in the house, and when the evening’s entertainment arrived, our view has unhindered. The duo spent twenty minutes or so treating us to some self composed Spanish jazz guitar, before being joined by a lady with a voice like silk for a few better known jazz songs, which were a mix of fast paced toe-tappers and chilled out sway-in-your-seat slow melodies, all of which were the perfect accompaniment to our cocktails.
In a jazz bar below a coffee specialist, the must-have cocktail to enjoy is an Espresso Martini. We ordered one each and enjoyed the beautiful, heavy cut glasses they arrived in. Smooth, frothy and strong, we sipped at them and enjoyed the rich caffeine rush and the music. When the opportunity arrived between songs to enjoy another tipple, I ordered an Old Fashioned and he ordered a Mojito. The Old Fashioned was velvety and warming, and the mojito fresh and sweet. We nibbled at the popcorn provided on the table until the last note was played, and didn’t feel rushed to leave but rather felt we could have stayed and ordered more drinks had the mood struck.
A small note about the toilet: It’s a bit special, in that it is both a toilet AND a museum in one. Quite possibly the smallest museum I’ve ever visited, and certainly the first I’ve pulled my pants down in the middle of – this toilet showcases books of an erotic nature from over the years. This venue really is something of a cultural gold mine.
Hidden gems like The Basement are what make London such an exciting place to live and visit. There are few things more enjoyable than a night of live music and delicious libations; this place ticks both of those boxes. It is an iconic venue, celebrating music of all forms and allowing talents to be showcased in an intimate and immersive setting. It’s cool, relaxed and fun, and if it means I’m one step closer to curating my very own Gosling, I think it might have to become a date night regular.