A subterranean den of warmth, music, and drink, London’s Nightjar is our favorite new bar of 2011. At the helm is Marian Beke, formerly of Montgomery Place, whose skill, charm, and astonishing memory (we hadn’t had a drink from him in two years, and still...) place him among the best bartenders in the world.
Befitting the underground feel, the cocktail menu is replicated in the form of a custom deck of playing cards, which double as coasters.
All of the drinks were great, but the standout was The Name of the Samurai: Nikka Whisky, vanilla sugar, fresh lavender, ginger and raisin sake, and lime. This is, like many of the drinks on the menu, is an original creation of Mr. Beke. And like many of the drinks on the menu, it had an unusual garnish: here, a small green tea shortbread cookie served across the top of the glass
We hear that Nightjar usually has music, though there wasn’t anyone booked the night we were there a few weeks after they opened. But a friend of the owner -- a tall, languid, central-casting Oxonian -- had a splendid go at some piano rags while we were there, and we can only imagine what the space would be like filled with the “red hot dark dirty swing” promised by one upcoming band.
If you find yourself in London, Nightjar is on the must-visit list.