It ranked third in the World’s 50 Best Bars list, but Nightjar is definitely one of the most singularly unique drinking experiences in London. The discreet entrance near the Old Street roundabout is easy to miss, but once you find it you’re in for a dark and sumptuous speakeasy treat. Dimly lit candles flicker away at the tiny tables, so grab a date and snuggle into one of the booths. (Note: let the lovely hostess show you to your table … best not to just plop down where you fancy).
The cocktail menu is a beast with a huge number of unrecognisable ingredients, many of which are made in house – think buttered oolong foam and plankton air. Don’t be daunted, even the most seasoned cocktail aficionados struggle to make a decision here. Luckily the floor staff are trained to a tee and will expertly guide you toward your drink(s) of choice. And while the cocktails always taste incredible, the garnishes and presentation are really what make this bar stand out. One of our favourites is the Toronto, a bourbon-based drink served with smoked candy floss – a weird and wonderful combination. Or if you want to try the plankton air, order Beyond the Sea. Served in a seashell, this libation is a beautifully balanced blend of Gin Mare, sherry and oyster leaf infusion. Oh yeah, and the food is just as easy on the eye as it is on the belly.
From jazz to blues to Edith Piaf-alikes, the team at Nightjar loves live music and has it on almost every night of the week at around 9-9:30pm (book ahead pals, these are hot tickets). While Mondays are often reserved for boozy masterclasses (again, book ahead for these … the Woodford Reserve class sold out in a record 20 minutes).
Best Bars tip: If you want to listen to the live music without an extra charge on your bill, Nightjar puts it on the house every Tuesday, Sunday and Monday – it’s between £5-7 every other day of the week.
— Sasha Filimonov, @SashaSips