Looking for bars in London? Read our review of Horatio Street Social Club, a trendy new Hoxton bar near Hoxton Square in Shoreditch.
Horatio Street Social Club in a nutshell: Hidden underneath a Hoxton pub, this small, pared-back bar is the first joint venture from Callooh Callay alums Simon Thompson and Jake O’Brien Murphy.
Where is it? An eight-minute walk from Hoxton Overground station
What’s the vibe?
Horatio Street Social Club’s charms are hidden – quite literally. The bar can only be accessed by going inside the Nelson’s Head and heading down a narrow flight of stairs and into what was once the pub’s cellar. Here, the vibe is very much intimate drinking den, with a décor of dim lighting, simple wooden tables and stools, panelled wood and painted brick walls.
What’s the drinks menu like?
The drinks offering signals ambition, with a roster of cocktails replete with quirky ingredients and interesting backstories. Take Kill the Cook, which sees tequila matched with two types of pepper (fresh red and dried Turkish urfa), yellow chartreuse, smoked salt, lime, red iron and zinc (the latter two extracted from food-supplement tablets). According to bartender-owner Jake, it’s a tribute to the Mexican terroir of the Olmeca tequila used in the cocktail. Check out our best-ever Mexican recipes here.
Elsewhere there’s the Fan Mail, a take on a simple scotch and soda, but here with Monkey Shoulder scotch, pear and Angostura bitters; or Garfield’s Funeral, which is described by Jake as the big brother to the old fashioned, but with a black trumpet mushroom tincture added to the mix for an umami edge.
There’s also a short wine menu curated by anti-wine-snobbery crusaders War on Terroir (priced at just £5 a glass) and a pithy roster of beers.
Which cocktails to order?
Green Knees (rose pisco, poppy grappa and dry vermouth) was a super-clean riff on a martini, while Naïve Melody was an intriguing low-ABV concoction of Campari, kola nut and white wine, with lots of distinct flavours. Click here for more martini recipes.
Our favourites of the night were the first and last drinks we tried. Kill the Cook’s complex, experimental concept bore fruit – it was savoury, mineral and smoky. Dirty Faces (calvados fatwashed through beeswax with Ford’s gin, apricot and verjus) was stunning, with complex fruit, honey and floral notes.
Is there any food? Not as yet, although there are plans to develop a bar menu in the future.
Where to go nearby for dinner: Head to Morito’s Hackney Road site, just a few minutes away, for chilled-out Spanish tapas.
Insider tip: The space is small so book ahead to make sure you get a table.
Price: From £9 for a cocktail.
Written by Hannah Guinness
Photographs by Matt Hastings and Sean Cloudsdale