Oriole in a nutshell: A speakeasy-style jazz club with lavish, experimental cocktails inspired by flavour combinations from around the world, from the duo behind popular live-music cocktail bar, Night Jar.
Where is it? East Poultry Avenue, Smithfield Market. Nearest tube: Farringdon
Who’s behind it? This is the second bar from husband-and-wife cocktail team, Edmund Weil and Rosie Stimpson. The duo has gained a reputation for inventive cocktails and an exciting live music line up.
What’s the vibe? A world away from the echoey warehouses of Smithfield Market above, this basement hideout oozes art deco glamour without being brash and shiny. Oriole is the name of a colourful exotic bird, and there are nods to this theme throughout, with jungle wallpaper, tropical illustrations and worldly trinkets. Lounge on a teal banquette or perch on one of the patterned pouffes that are scattered around the stage, where musicians unpack their double basses and jazz guitars to play gypsy swing, jazz and the blues.
What’s the drinks menu like?
Named “A world awaits”, this vast menu is split into Old World (Europe and Africa), New World (the Americas) and The Orient (Asia and Australasia), filtering in unusual ingredients from across the globe. Jules Verne’s Around The World in 80 Days springs to mind as the menu encourages guests to discover the globe through its many ingredients. Each cocktail is quirkily presented, served in unusual vessels such as Pernambuco’s snail-like wooden box that smokes when you open the spiraled lid, along with hand-etched leather pouches and colourful painted mugs to represent South American mural culture.
There are also a few sharing cocktails, all served in a lavish fashion (think a giant metal tortoise, its shell filled with Culebra punch, or a gnarled wooden tea pot brimming with the smoke of the Appalachian forest brew).
Which cocktail to order at Oriole?
Oriole is all about intense flavours. Take the Île de Ré as an example, crafted to embody La Rochelle in France. The goblet of Hennessy-based liquid is made extra smooth and nutty with a hazelnut infusion, a glug of Veuve Clicquot champagne adding a light sparkle. It’s topped with a spiced sorbet and a french waffle, caramelised with a blowtorch at the table to release an aroma like toasted marshmallows.
The punchy Windjammer is one of the strongest on the menu, and has similarities to a negroni. Plymouth gin and cherry brandy add body to this bitter and aromatic drink with cherry and blackcurrant undertones. Or go for the aniseed, chocolate sweet notes of the Sanshin old fashioned, served in a cork-wrapped glass.
Is there any food?
There’s a short menu of indulgent (and substantial) bar snacks. Try the truffle croquettes before tucking into squishy bao buns stuffed with sticky glazed pork belly.
Go on a Wednesday to Sunday night to enjoy live global music – gypsy swing to traditional New Orlean’s jazz, West African blues to Trinidadian calypso.
Where to go nearby for dinner: Hix Oyster and Chop House, St John Bread and Wine, or Modern Pantry are all suitably swanky but down-to-earth restaurants to visit before a night cap at Oriole.