London speakeasy style bars promise a lot, and frequently don’t deliver. Especially when the bar in question is adjacent to Shoreditch, off the Old Street roundabout unmarked and hidden between two questionable cafes.
But such cynicism is unfounded when you get downstairs at Bar Night Jar. Suddenly we were transported to Twenties prohibition America, with art deco interior, the sort of flattering lighting you know you’d get at Jay Gatsby’s house parties, amazing cocktails with a list of rums that makes you dizzy and a fantastic, other-time atmosphere that belies that you’re essentially under City Road.
Aside from the cocktails, which came in everything from china mugs to bronze cups with a helpful spout, the main attraction and what added to the ambience was the great live music. Last night we were treated to the sounds of Les Effrontes, a band with the all the jazz vibe of the chansonnier traditions of France, in tribute to the work of Jacques Brel and bringing to life the songs of Piaf, Gainsbourg and Trenet. They were fantastic, and had people dancing between the tables or swinging in their seats to a rendition of ‘I Wanna Be Like You’.
The bar is an Instagram fan’s dream, everything lends itself to a sepia filter, in fact, for an evening it was like being in an Instagram picture come to life, you felt you should be whispering bribes to bootleggers and giggling with flappers. We loved it.
Bar Night Jar, 129 City Road, London EC1