We’d like to begin with a confession.
Only it’s actually less of a confession, and more of an admission.
We feature a lot of bars – and pop up bars, specifically – that might accurately be described as “speakeasies”. Nothing wrong with that particularly, but it does make writing about the Nightjar pretty tricky.
Because Nightjar is an actual, bona fide speakeasy.
It’s the type of place that all of the other speakeasies want to be when they grow up. The type of place that, even if all the other speakeasies got it completely spot on, would still come out on top (at least so far as authenticity; live music; ambience; style and cocktails – the important stuff, really – are concerned).
You’ll enter through an unmarked door on the definition of an unsuspecting street, head down a darkened staircase and slip into a genuine, prohibition-era bar.
Through the candlelight and conspiratorial whisperings you’ll notice the rose-tinted mirrors, the art deco liquor cabinets (filled with vintage spirits actually dating from the Prohibition), and the illicit, darkened corners fitted with leather booth seating. You’ll hear the hum of live jazz emanating from the flat-capped jazz band on stage, and winding its way through the shadows to the bar where Nightjar’s award-winning cocktails are created.
Cocktails that range from the fruity, creamy flavours of the pre-prohibition period (like the Filipino, with Bathtub gin, fresh snake fruit and coconut smoke), to the short, punchy and very strong drinks favoured during those heady days of anything but abstinence (like the Imperial Fizz, which comes with three types of gin and its very own pedestal)…
In fact, the drinks are so good, that Nightjar offers its patrons decks of cards inscribed with the full cocktail menu, and hip flasks to take away.
Nightjar’s the real deal: not much else to say.
NOTE: Nightjar is open daily from 6pm till late (3am Fri & Sat). There is live music every night from 9.30pm, for which a small surcharge will be added to your bill on Wed-Sun. And it’s totally worth it. You can book online HERE.
The Nightjar | 129-131 City Road, EC1V 1JB
Last Updated: 23rd October 2019
Check out our guide to the best London bars with live music