I’ll cut to the chase early doors; Nightjar is constantly lauded as one of the best, if not the best bar in London. So expectations are always high. I was invited down to try their new cocktail menu and relive the Nightjar experience, which at the time was - shockingly for me - a year out of date.
Sandwiched between a kebab shop and a café lies a wooden door, with a small Nightjar bird placard. When the bar is open, look out for the (friendly) bouncer and probably a queue of anticipation out the front. As you get the all clear, you descend the stairs into another world. A world of copper ceilings, wild concoctions flying past you on trays, live jazz and general chitter-chatter. The word 'speakeasy' has been banded about for many, many years now, but Nightjar really does manage to capture that era with a real sense of authenticity.
Food and Drinks
You don’t become critically-acclaimed the world over for just friendly staff and a cool décor. The cocktails at Nightjar are as delicious and unique as they are theatrically-intricate.
I want to touch upon the taste quickly, as many cocktail bars have forgotten to cater for the common customer (us), and not a fellow mixologist; but Nightjar are not one of these. We tried six cocktails and each one was as deliciously-tasty as the next. In true Nightjar style, the new menu needs to be seen to be believed, with drinks adorned with chilli jelly sweets, mozzarella, purple carrots, peanut butter ice cubes, voodoo smoke and plenty more. Every drink is an adventure and the pure excitement seen on everyone’s faces when the drinks arrive is a joy in itself.
(And for those that want Instagram likes; Nightjar certainly won’t let you down either).
My personal favourites were; the Bennet Cocktail, a mixture of gin, red hot chilli, Mexican tarragon, corn-infused gin, limes and mescal, served with their hand-made super fiery Haribo-esque sweets, and the Lei Lani Volcano, a mix of coconut blossom nectar, cacao butter, banana bread beer roasted feijoa and Havana Club – topped with a huge peanut butter ice cube. It was fresh, tropical and a delight on the eye. Priced around the £10-£12 mark they are at the higher end of the market, but it's money well spent considering the level of detail and finesse going in to each drink. If you're hungry and the garnishes aren't hitting the spot, the bar also offers a Spanish-inspired tapas menu to complement the flavour-heavy drinks.
It's probably worth noting that if you are a fan of theatrical creations when it comes to your drinks, then don’t be shy asking the staff which ones are the most extravagant to ensure you get the full sense experience that Nightjar can offer.
The special drinks menu matches the special atmosphere. You really do feel a world away from all the troubles of the world going on above your head. It’s a real chance for a few hours of true escapism. The live jazz of course adds to the ambience and is a lovely finishing touch on the whole Nightjar experience. There is rarely an empty seat here so with or without live music the bar is always alive with chitter chatter, camera flashes and a general air of excitement and bewilderment at what’s being served. Perfect for date night, special occasion night or impressing an out-of-town friend with what London can offer.
Quite simply, Nightjar lives up to its billing. Luckily for me I get to go to a lot of bars across the world, but rarely do I get genuine excitement and anticipation a few hours before, like I do with Nightjar. It’s an experience from start to finish and a bar that must be put on your bucket list.
See you down there…I’ll be the one digging around looking for the full bag of those delicious chilli sweets.