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.