An artisanal wine aficionado, a craft beer connoisseur, a retro record lover and an Arsenal fan walk into a bar.
And they all have a lovely evening.
If they’re in Highbury Library, that is.
Despite its name — for the old Arsenal Stadium, dubbed the Highbury Library due to its polite, notably not-rowdy crowd — this craft beer & wine bar is full of life. Library is an appropriate term, however, for the impressive archive of vinyls on display. Browsing is encouraged. If anything catches your eye you can unshelve it, pass it across the bar, and soon enough it’ll be on the decks.
There’s also an intoxicating kind of collection here: a generous selection of natural wines. With an emphasis on rare, small-vineyard picks, it’s a world of wine you wouldn’t find at the local supermarket. Over lockdown, Highbury Library operated solely as a bottle shop, and you can still visit this vino depot in its new home downstairs.
The main floor has reopened as a fantastic by-the-glass bar. Red, white, and orange wines are graded on a ‘wild’ scale, from 1 (familiar, reliable) to 5 (feral, fantastic). Everything is tasted and approved before it ever finds its way to your palate.
If the sun’s out, the garden is a nice spot for an evening cocktail or spritz – many of which are interesting indie versions of popular drinks. This is more ‘variations on a theme’ compared to the freeform jazz of the wilder wines. The beer selection also spans the full familiarity spectrum: from IPA and stout to beetroot and guava sour beers.
If you’re a football fan, you won’t be disappointed (unless you support any team that isn’t Arsenal). The bar is just across the road from the Emirates, and on match day transforms into a base of operations for Gooners. It might well serve the nicest pre-game glass of wine in the world.
So, if you’ve ever been to a library and, upon arriving, wished there was fewer books, more booze, and more Arsenal memorabilia, then:
1) What did you expect from a library?
2) Boy, do we have the place for you.
Words by Calum Wincott
NOTE: Highbury Library is open daily. You can find out more here, or book a table via [email protected]
Highbury Library | 66a Drayton Park, London, N5 1ND
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