I know I know, this blog was meant to appear a few days ago. But this work travel malarkey has made my schedule a bit whackadoodle – and I’m not talking blog schedule, just general life schedule. I have 30 minutes till my gate opens (off to Shanghai this time) so I thought I would crouch on the floor of Heathrow near the only available power point and talk to you about a bar. I don’t normally do bars. I feel far too self-conscious, anxiety is at the max and drinks are expensive. Given this bar-apathy I thought my sister was insane for giving me a voucher to Nightjar for Christmas last year. Did she not know me at all? Ok fine, it turns out she knows me to my core because Nightjar is my kind of joint.
It is a speakeasy, so you have to book in advance then spend about fifteen minutes walking up and down City Road to find the nondescript door. After walking past it a minimum of seven times you then have to ask the random man standing outside a closed door if he knows where Nightjar is, he will say yes and let you in. No, none of that was part of some quirky London schtick, I just have a terrible sense of direction.
Anyway Nightjar is hidden downstairs and is table service only, so you don’t have to worry about competing for a bartender’s attention while firmly lodged in the armpit of a banker. Instead you sit at your little table (space is at a premium) and listen to the live music as you choose your cocktail. And oh the cocktails, they are the main event.
There is no food to speak of at Nightjar, so make sure you eat before you go. Because when you have ten pages of cocktails to get through, a well lined stomach is important. The cocktails are divided into pre-prohibition, prohibition, post war and signature and they are almost impossible to choose from. The combinations are so weird that you can’t quite picture in your head what it is going to end up tasting like, and even if you think you can you will be 100% surprised. Because I am an uber-dork I studied up beforehand and chose all the cocktails that were the prettiest. Yes I am that shallow. Someone buy me a pony.
My favourite by far (strangely enough for a gin based life form) was the Toronto which was Woodford Reserve Bourbon, Roasted Pecan & Coffee Maple Syrup, Fernet Branca and Smoked Candy Floss. The reason I loved it so much is that smoked candy floss hanging over it like a blimp, the idea is to take bits off and like a raccoon in a zoo drop them in the drink. This slowly sweetens the cocktail and you can get it perfectly to suit your taste buds. If the person that created it could please email me because I have a proposal of marriage waiting.
Nightjar feels intimate, it feels special. It is a perfect place to go with a best friend to fix all of the worlds problems, it’s the place to take your lush parents when you want to show them how amazing London is. At Nightjar you spend half your evening choosing cocktails and the other half exclaiming in surprise when it turns out you have chosen a cocktail that is essentially porridge with a cracker on top. I love this bar.
When your allotted time is up (do yourself a favour and book the maximum allowed, trust me here) you leave the notes of music and cocktails living behind you and find yourself once again spat out on the Old Street roundabout. It is a shock to the system after hiding away in the suspended reality of Nightjar, but as you walk to the Northern line you will be plotting the next time you can return and imbibe.
P.s. Love you Sister, turns out you are right about everything.