Lowcountry | An intimate subterranean whiskey bar below a stunning restaurant
A restaurant that, it should be pointed out, looks a lot more like a bar (given that it literally is just a counter). And a bar which, thanks to the tables and waiters and whatnot, looks a bit more like a restaurant. But culinary cross-dressing aside, they’re both extremely good at what they do, and they work hand-in-hand quite seamlessly.
In contrast to the bright eatery above, the bar itself is a softly lit moody den, with blue-grey stoney walls, scattered tables with thick veins of green marble running through them, and a long red-tile bar dominating one side of the room. It all feels very laid back, intimate, and ever-so-slightly seductive.
Behind that bar you’ll see plenty of whiskey – most of that whiskey is which is American whiskey, and most of that American whiskey is from the very Lowcountry that the bar is named for. If you’ve never been, it’s a stretch of coastal South Carolina predominately filled with tranquil marshes, lazy rivers, and fantastic distilleries. It’s also where the head mixologist, Ryan Sheehan, basically grew up.
Here, he’s almost literally pouring his heritage into a rather wonderful cocktail list, which stretches from cutting-edge infusions and concoctions, all the way through to time-hallowed numbers pulled from the depths of cocktail history. The ingredients that don’t come out of a bottle tend to come from the excess in the kitchen upstairs, helping to keep the creativity at maximum, and keep the waste to a minimum. Standouts include:
- Hot Tomato – which involves tomato water (it’s nicer than it sounds); jalapeno infused tequila (it’s exactly as good as it sounds) and basil oil.
- Fat-Fashioned – bringing together some glorious bacon-washed bourbon with maple syrup & Creole bitters.
- Whiskey Punch – this one blends the seemingly incongruous elements of bourbon, port, black tea, and citrus. Somehow, it works extremely well.
- A Martini Flight – in which you’ll get five Martinis, each of which was popular in different eras from 1888 to 2023. Understandably, it’s for two people minimum.
- Boilermaker – it’s just a shot of whiskey and a beer, but no self-respecting Lowcountry bar wold go without it.
Those drinks will be being whisked upstairs to people dining at the restaurant, and in exchange, they restaurant will be sending down bar food. And it just so happens that the restaurant’s head chef, Joe Laker, spend a great deal of his own childhood in the Lowcountry & Alabama too, so he’s creating regionally appropriate recipes made using all-British ingredients, including the likes of a gooey pimento cheese rarebit, some flavoursome slices of shrimp & grits prawn toast, and platefuls of crispy fried okra croquettes.
It might technically be underground… but this place is setting the bar high.
NOTE: Lowcountry is open now, Tuesday to Saturday. They accept both walk-ins and bookings. You can make a reservations, and see the cocktail menu at the Counter 71 website right here.
Counter 71 | 71 Nile Street, N1 7RD
Image credits: Rebecca Dickson
While you’re in the neighbourhood… check out your Shoreditch guide