There’s a brand new secret on Old Street, and this speakeasy will change the game for East London bars
The Nightjar is a passion project from Edmund Weil and his partner Roisin Stimpson. Edmund acts as general manager of the venue while Roisin runs the music and entertainment side; the pair is supported by bar manager Marian Beke and their Shaker-School-trained bartenders.
While Marian has bar experience at Montgomery Place and Artesian at the Langham Hotel, Edmund is a relative newcomer and spent just one year at Shoreditch House learning the ropes. (He was previously an English teacher and a PR)
I have no doubt that the bar will be a magnetic jazz and cabaret venue when it launches. But what kncked my socks off was the cocktail menu. When I met Edmund and Roisin on Friday night, I was lucky enough to be talked through their entire menu and the cocktail geek in me was bowled over.
The most eye-catching must be the BBC – one of Marian Beke’s competition-winning arrangements, the Sazerac-alike is served in a waft of absinthe smoke from the bar’s ‘smoking gun’.
Their aged pina colada looks like a must-try: two rums, fresh coconut milk and pineapple juice spend a week wrapped up in a barrel before the cocktail’s served.
Lots of cocktails are made with the bar’s own liqueurs, bitters and infusions. The Name of the Samurai, for instance, has a ginger and raisin infused sake; there is also a blood orange and saffron liqueuer, a prune and Belgian truffle liqueurs and unique ‘electric bitters’ made from chilli-flowers in their signature drink.
The thing that caught my eye on the menu was a Silk Stockings made with Earl Grey-infused condensed milk – this creativity is, at the moment, the preserve of just a couple of bars outside of SoHo.
It’s also deeply authentic, right down to the Hemingway cocktail taken straight from Islands in the Stream.
For me it’s another sign that the East End’s the new West End – something Anna and Heather from the Queen of Hoxton mentioned a year ago. Certainly, Edmund compared the cocktail menu to Purl’s and Nightjar’s smoking cocktail has a whiff of the Fixer Upper about it… Does it bother you to lose grungy venues (The Foundry, Victoria’s), or will you welcome Nightjar with open arms?