Let’s keep this between us, shall we!
The thing with a good secret bar is that you never forget your first time. The thing with a great secret bar is, every time you visit it, it feels like your first time.
In between two Café’s on City road is a door. The door is a rich brown, solid looking door. The only hint that it holds something more than normal is a little golden plaque with the picture of a Nightjar bird on it.
In true speakeasy style, there’s no name or any other indication of this being a bar. You just have to know, you know. You can book in advance, or if you get there early enough, just walk up to the security with confidence and a smile on your face, and they’ll do their best to find you some space.
As you enter the door there’s a staircase leading down. It still doesn’t quite seem special, but then you reach a second door and hear jazz permeating through the walls, with the anticipation built enough, you open the door and are immediately sent back in time.
The soft golden lighting, the epic smoky mirror with birds mid-flight embossed, the rich leather sofa’s, the alcoves, the mix masters in braces and shirts: I do believe we’ve stepped into a scene from the Great Gatsby.
This is all before you sit down and receive the best kind of bar snack I can imagine, bowls of popcorn.
It’s exclusively table service, meaning you get a cocktail expert taking your drinks orders who will build your drink experience around your palette. They will either make the right suggestion from the menu or, build one just for you. Yes, because they’re experts, they will create something beautiful that you can name and have as your own.
Oh, and another thing. When I said “drinks experience”, I really meant it. The drinks, especially the sharing cocktails, are all an experience within themselves in the how they are served. I won’t ruin too many of the surprises but, order the Yorkshire punch and be prepared to see a smoking owl!
At around 9pm there’s usually a live band which plays an array of Jazz, Blues and all kinds of revelry. I can’t put into words the way the atmosphere is transformed, but the small stage creates a definite feel of an intimate show, all just for you.
Overall – 5/5 This is a must visit for anyone that wants to experience what an actual secret bar is meant to be all about.
Cost – The price of drinks is pretty standard for London, around £12 so hopefully not too onerous. There’s also a one off £5 charge per person if you stay for the show.
Fancy scale – Go there with a date, go there with work colleagues, in fact you can even go there by yourself, just go for the experience.
The easiest way to get to Nightjar is Old Street station. Take the exit for Moorfields eye hospital, it should be just across the road from there.