Bourbon is one of those spirits that deserves to be savoured – particularly when it’s as good as Woodford Reserve. With its mellow amber-gold colour, silky smoothness and indulgent hint of caramel on the tongue, it’s like a great friend: brilliant one-on-one, but also fabulous when introduced to a group.
The mixing-into-a-group we are of course referring to are the magic of cocktails, and what better place to enjoy this Kentucky Bourbon than a bar that embraces Speakeasy style in fabulous fashion? Enter Nightjar, that beautiful establishment next to Old Street station that offers a glimpse of the heady pleasures of the Jazz Age. With it’s glittering crystal, shiny Art Deco fittings and glowing candlelight, it perfectly captures the wanton opulence of Prohibition.
It makes sense for the two to come together for intimate evenings of music, cocktails and speakeasy glamour. We went along and have chosen our top three of the special cocktails on offer to whet your appetite for the next instalment…
The nostalgic one: TORONTO
We all remember those days of wandering through a brightly lit funfair, the smell of frying onions in the air and the neon lights whizzing around us – all that’s needed to complete the scene is a huge puff of candy floss. Well, with the Toronto cocktail you can close your eyes and be transported back there, in an altogether boozier fashion. Mixing the silky caramel tones of Woodford Reserve with the rich depth of coffee and roasted maple syrup, and just a little herbal bitterness from Fernet Branca for balance, this delicious cocktail comes served with a waft of spun sugar embracing orange blossom smoke. The citrus zing on the nose and the sweet treat in the mouth make this an altogether decadent cocktail to enjoy as the jazz plays on.
The wintery one: BROOKLYN
We’ve been to Brooklyn in winter – it’s beautiful, with the brownstones stretching majestically up into the grey sky and spindly fingers of bare trees making patterns above our heads. There are also a fair few hipsters sporting beards and bobble hats, and one of the nicest things to do is get cosy with a Brooklyn ale. This must surely be the inspiration for this cocktail, which combines the tummy-warming glow of Woodford Reserve and toasted rye infusion with Brooklyn Winter Ale cordial, Amer Picon, aged kirsch for added depth, and some clementine bitters for that Christmassy citrus zing we all know and love. Plus, just so we really know how All-American our cocktail is, there’s a little Stars and Stripes stuck to the base of the glass, with a smudge of rich maple syrup that goes nicely with the drink. The piece of smoky scented heather on top of the glass makes it even more reminiscent of winter days.
The exotic one: EAST SMASH
We love it when a cocktail contains something apparently good for us, like beetroot or coconut water or some other superfood that makes us feel less guilty about drinking three of them in quick succession. So the East Smash gets our vote as something unusual and (vaguely) healthy with its addition of Matcha Crusta. Matcha tea is of course the vivid green metabolism-boosting powder that immerses itself everywhere from tea to ice cream, and now it’s a garnish on this Oriental sensation. Combining a variety of unusual flavours, such as maraschino bitters for a cherry kick, bee pollen for something sweeter, orange liqueur for rich flavour and fresh lemon for a citrus hit, the Woodford brings its hints of toffee and tobacco to the mix and the result is a heady cocktail that we can imagine being served among the smoke and opulence of a Shanghai Opium Den. But, like we said, the Matcha makes it healthy…
These are just three of the special cocktails that can be enjoyed from a special list of five, all for the insanely good price of £7. Woodford and Nightjar are thankfully making their union a regular occurrence, so keep an eye on the bar’s website to find out when the next night of bourbon brilliance is due to happen.
By Rebecca Milford @rebecca_anne_m
129 City Road, London, EC1V 1JB. barnightjar.com
Interior photo credit: Paul Storrie