We’re a seasonal bunch, us Londoners. In the summer, we flock to the rooftops like pigeons, and in the winter we burrow underground – preferably to a place with good food and excellent booze. How fortunate then, that the husband-and-wife team behind the renowned cocktail bar Nightjar have recently launched Oriole Bar, their second venture in the city.
Step down into the former Cock Tavern site, and your eyes are drawn to the vast bar with its glittering bottles. The bar team, headed by Luca Cinalli, had significant input in the design of their workspace – and it shows. This is a bartender’s bar, with enough room and easy access to all the ingredients they need to work their magic.
Speaking of magic, the mixed drinks menu is divided into three sections – Old World, New World and The Orient. Each showcases original creations inspired by various research trips around the world. Start off in the Old World with a Virginia Don, which is most similar to an Old-Fashioned. Here, tobacco liqueur is blended with Naked Grouse for a distinct kick.
Next, head over to the New World with my favourite drink of the evening: Cortez the Killer. Don Julio Reposado, balsamic vermouth and Agave tonka syrup join forces to deliver the smoothest sucker punch possible.
Finally, take the Road To Hanoi to sample the delights of The Orient. The mix of Hennessy Fine de Cognac, Marzipan Grappa, Akashi Tai sake, Campari and Shimeji crown makes for a borderline savoury drink that goes beautifully with the venison tartare. On the subject of food, make it your mission to taste the Chilean sea bass at Oriole. Even after three Cortez the Killers, I can still remember every bite of that flaky, gently spiced, crispy-on-the-outside-soft-on-the-inside fish. I believe it was served with taro mash.
With its live music, mouth-watering menu and otherworldly décor, this intimate den is where I’ll be hibernating this winter.
Oriole Bar is open Monday, 5pm – 11pm; Tuesday – Sunday, 5pm – 2am.
Where: East Poultry Avenue, London Central Markets, London, EC1A 9LH