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John McCarthy's Spirited View...

By John, also posted in News on

Adnams Distiller John McCarthyAs a Distiller of spirits I like to keep in touch with the world of spirits and cocktails. This is mostly via Twitter and drinks industry publications, with the odd visit to top bars and restaurants with the Adnams sales team. These visits usually take place in the daytime so I don’t tend to see what goes on in these bars when they are operating with customers. This weekend, however, we decided to do something a bit different and on Saturday night headed down to the Shoreditch area of London to visit a couple of bars I had read about but not yet been to. Creative cocktailThe first was Nightjar. As you leave Old Street station and walk down a row of shops you come to a door with just a small plaque which indicates you have arrived. On entering you are at the start of a corridor with a doorman (this actual doorman was a doorwoman, and very nice she was too) toting a clipboard. You should pre-book a table before arriving (there is limited space and no standing at the bar) but we were lucky and were allowed to enter. At the end of the corridor you descend a flight of stairs and come to a door. Throughout this journey there is no indication as to what lies the other side of the door, no pictures, no music, nothing! Upon entering you are filled with awe and as you find yourself in a Prohibition Era Speakeasy with 1920s décor, smartly-uniformed, friendly staff and Jazz music. You are shown to your table and left for a while to peruse a menu of the most elaborate cocktails with page titles from Pre-Prohibition, Prohibition and Post War eras. The waiter returns with cucumber-laced water and an offer to lead you through the menu and help with your drink selection. Cocktail - pure theatreAfter Nightjar we headed to Callooh Callay, another bar on my 'must visit' list. The name is from Lewis Carroll's Jabberwocky. This is an amazing space, with a wall covered in cassette tapes, and a bar that served us with the most amazing drinks by phenomenally good staff. The atmosphere was buzzing in this full-to-the-gunnels bar. As you move to the back of the bar and pass through what appears to be wardrobe doors you find yourself in another bar, a real 'Alice through the Looking Glass' moment. This secret bar is more relaxed and food is available. From here, up a short fight of stairs and you enter the Jub Jub room, (I believe this may be invite only, we were lucky to have bumped into a bar-owner friend who knew the manager). This is yet another bar with a theme that changes regularly, when we were there it was set out like a Mexican Cantina! Absolutely amazing! What can I say; a great night with great drinks. I wish we could have stayed longer, but the distillery calls… (If you visit these bars and wonder if they stock Adnams spirits, Nightjar has our Absinthe).