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Joyeux Bordel (CLOSED)

  • Bars and pubs
  • Shoreditch
  • price 3 of 4
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Recommended

Time Out says

4 out of 5 stars

Please note, Joyeux Bordel is now closed. Time Out Editors, 2018.

For five years now, one of London’s must-visit bars has been a place where the odds are really stacked against a visit. Experimental Cocktail Club is behind an anonymous doorway in Chinatown; if you don’t have a reservation, which is almost always required, there are people at the door whose job it is to decide whether you may enter or not. If that all sounds like an unnecessary trial to go through just for a drink, then (until it too becomes hugely popular) you can get some of why some cocktail aficionados are prepared to put up with such trials at the team’s new Shoreditch bar, in a basement off Curtain Road.

The name literally means ‘happy brothel’, but used in France to mean a happy mess. It’s not a mess, though – louche, perhaps, with just enough light to detect the walls are a deep blue, and it’s rather bijou. Most of the seats and tables are that annoyingly awkward knee height, too low to lean into, so sit at the bar or on the banquette to avoid backache. Or drink a few cocktails so you don’t notice – they’re strong, simple and on the sensible side of surprising. We liked the Softly Softly, a subtle mix of vermouth, bitters, gin and chilli tincture, neat in a frosted coupe glass (£9.50). Something Italian (£9.50) had something American in it too (bourbon, with Cynar artichoke liqueur and amaro digestif) and was almost challengingly bitter.

A crew of studiously colloquial staff keep things running smoothly; and yes, there’s a chap at the door whose job it probably is to decide whether you can enter or not, but he seems like an amiable sort. Joyeux indeed. 

Written by Euan Ferguson


147 Curtain Road
View Website
Tube: Old Street.
Opening hours:
Closed Mon; Open Tue-Thur 8pm-2am; Fri-Sat 8pm-3am
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