The Battle of the Bar Birds currently raging in Shoreditch involves less hair pulling and stiletto slinging than you might first expect. The birds, for one, are of the feathered variety rather than potty-mouthed fishwives, with Rivington Street’s Carroll-inspired Jubjub wrangling in the pecking order with City Road’s Nightjar, which opens tonight.
There’s been much Tweeting over the past week about the Nightjar using images of Jubjub in their launch advertising, which is enough to ruffle anyone’s feathers, but as far as we can tell these two bars are of different species, so there’s nothing to get in a flap about (the analogy will end soon, honest).
The Nightjar – so called after a bird who ventures out under cover of dusk and in the early hours of the morning* – is tucked away in an otherwise unassuming part of Old Street roundabout. Descending a flight of stairs betwixt a Kafeteria beginning with K and a Cafeteria beginning with C will draw you into a modern-day Speakeasy, with room for a library, lounge bar and swing band, decorated with vintage fittings, copper stills and the now ubiquitous (but still rather beautiful) pressed tin “members bar” ceiling.
There’s a wide range of cocktails on offer, from Prohibition style to latter-day vintage offerings. The signature Ladybird was a spot-on combination of rum, Caribbean spices, chocolate, and orange bitters, although the presentation of the chocolate truffle on the outside of the glass was less Blood and Sand, more Bobby Sands.
The big bonus of this place though is the live music – Topshelf Jazz have all the best tunes, dapper suits and costumes that border on taking the pith. Weeknights are set to see a combination of jazz, cabaret, ragtime and “filthy swing”, belted out well into the not-so-wee small hours. The usual charge (£3 weeknights, £6 Saturdays) is waived this weekend, so knock back a couple of 24 Volt Cobblers and let us see you shake your tail feather.