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Bars and pubs, Cocktail bars Shoreditch
4 out of 5 stars
4 out of 5 stars
(38user reviews)
Nightjar (Britta Jaschinski / Time Out)
Britta Jaschinski / Time Out
Nightjar (Britta Jaschinski / Time Out)
Britta Jaschinski / Time Out
Nightjar (Rob Greig / Time Out)
Rob Greig / Time Out
Nightjar (Rob Greig / Time Out)
Rob Greig / Time Out
Nightjar (Rob Greig / Time Out)
Rob Greig / Time Out
Nightjar (Rob Greig / Time Out)
Rob Greig / Time Out
Nightjar (Rob Greig / Time Out)
Rob Greig / Time Out

Time Out says

4 out of 5 stars

Nightjar opened in 2010 and has become such a huge success that it now operates an online-only booking system and charges your credit card if you don’t show up. It takes away much of the spontaneity that comes with stumbling across a place like this, but that’s the price of fame.

And there is a good reason for it: Nightjar is a great bar. It’s a gorgeous, low-lit room with comfortable seating, smooth table service and a long, playful cocktail list divided into historical eras (pre-Prohibition, post-war and so on). This makes it a great place for experimenting, but you can also depend on expert handling of the classics. Early in the evening the sound system provides a discreet jazz and swing soundtrack; later the music goes live, with mostly jazz- and blues-orientated artists.

By: Richard Ehrlich



Address: 129 City Road
Transport: Tube: Old Street tube/rail
Opening hours: Open 6pm-1am Mon-Wed, Sun; 6pm-2am Thur; 6am-3am Fri, Sat
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Users say (38)

4 out of 5 stars

Average User Rating

4.3 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:22
  • 4 star:10
  • 3 star:2
  • 2 star:3
  • 1 star:1
1 person listening

As a cocktail fan this place excites me with cocktails I've never tried before in cups/bottles that I've never seen before.


To add to the drinks the staff were amazing with strong knowledge of the menu and were very patient with our indecisiveness.

My recommendation is barrel aged zombie which comes on fire with a very boozy cake.

Flamboyant and over the top but cocktails are not that great. 

I went on a Wednesday night and the atmosphere was stuffy and a bit dull to be honest. Drinks are very overpriced and average tasting. We were in there for about an hour (two of us) and we spend £125... 

Food was OK I guess, the chicken wings were so average yet sooooo spenny! 

Would not recommend. 


You must experience this once! Dress fancy, sit up straight and enjoy being served opulent cocktails in an authentic speakeasy bar. Not over done, not pretentious. The emphasis is on the cocktails and the experience. The fanciful ingredients are phenomenal, all explained and recommended by the staff to your tastes. The service, vessels and theatrical rituals when the cocktails arrived (and of course my friends) made my birthday! I say do this once, I will definitely be going back for the live music session later in the evening but for a special occasion as it is quite pricey.

This, was, INCREDIBLE! I had such a fabulous evening out here. We did book 6 weeks in advance but we noticed people asking on the door and snatching some last minute spots. I was told on the evening as well that if you come by on the night around 6pm you can sometimes get a spot at the bar. I was emailed a week before arrival and advised to order a sharer cocktail in advance so that you had something to drink while ordering your first round, as the cocktails can sometimes take a while to put together. We got the punch sharer cocktail which delivered inside a swan and was scrumptious. My second choice was a whiskey based cocktail which was delivered inside a chocolate coated waffle cup. As you drank the cocktail you could literally eat the cup around it! If you are not a fan of sweets I would not recommend you try and tackle it, as it is a sweet tooths dream! (but even I couldn't finish it!). 

The music was delightful, they were so enjoyable to listen to. I cannot wait to go back to listen to the music and working my way through more of the extensive cocktail list. I was worried booking so far in advance would build up the experience too much but it delivered perfectly. Finally if you don't know where this bar is located then make sure you got there a little earlier as it is very easy to walk straight past it!

Nightjar was such a find on my part, I definitely deserve a pat on the back.

Taking two friends looking for some quality jazz and drinks, I booked us a table at Nightjar and we weren't disappointed. An extensive cocktail menu is the showstopper here, divided into four categories (if you're proper, you'll travel forward in time) - but the speakeasy-style design, dark furniture, cassette-style ceiling and friendly staff are all an added plus.

Drinks are on the pricier side, starting from £12, but presentation and taste are incredibly exciting. You never know what you're going to get - the Little Devil cocktail came in a stainless steel cup with a Slytherin-style snake wrapped around it, finished off by a winegum chilli on the side to go with the drink; the Cafe Kirsch came in a coffee cup on legs, with a rim of dark chocolate mousse. The Moulin Rouge offered a mini-egg on the side and was offered with a hibiscus rim. Every drink here has its own personality and you can't really go wrong.

Word of advice: eat beforehand if you're starving, because no matter how many little plates you order, they probably won't be enough. The vegetable tempura was more like deep-fried vegetables American style and with way too much salt; the ham and cheese board for £22 only comes with two thin slices of bread and for some reason you're not allowed to obtain more it seems. They also run out of food quite quickly, so best to pre-order on booking.

The music is always incredible though; you feel transported back in time and each show is carefully selected for the best kind of music. 

All in all, an albeit pricey but very enjoyable evening and hopefully I will return!


Here’s a speakeasy bar you might like to take a date. This speakeasy-style subterranean bar is sexy AF with its dark walls, dark leather banquettes, exposed brick walls, and intimate corners. 

A few minutes walk from Old Street station. it’s a little tricky to find with its inconspicuous front door which resembles a rundown flat. The thing that gives it away is the huge line waiting outside to get in. Book advance if you want to skip the queue and avoid paying an entrance fee.

One thing that Nightjar does quite spectacularly is the presentation in the cocktails. They are quirky, to say the least, which I am all for. “Death in a Dutch Stream” comes in a flute like-cup with a stream of dry ice creating a mini mystic effect. The “Charlie Chaplin” is also a good shout for those with a sweet tooth, unsurprising with its notes of Madeira peach bark, Aronia berry, and lime notes mixed with Tanqueray No.10.

If you have a particularly large group, say, 4 people or more, book ahead in advance (needless to say) and request a table in one of the intimate, private alcoves at the back of the bar. 

Every night, there is live music but be advised that there will a £8 entrance fee when the band is playing. Any other time and it’s £5.

In truth, Nightjar is great for any occasion, whether celebrating a birthday or simply catching up with friends. Have I been to better bars? Yes, but Nightjar still remains one of London's best cocktail bars. 


Always love speakeasy bars and nightjar is definitely one of the best. Absolutely amazing cocktails with unique presentations coupled with nice and friendly staff, highly recommended to try.

The Nightjar offers the perfect speakeasy experience!

Immediately after passing its unmarked door open to a dark staircase, you get a hint of a typical prohibition-like, jazzy atmosphere from another era. And indeed, downstairs the whispering of the crowd melts smoothly with the shadows of candlelights on the brick-walls. Old-fashioned ceiling lamps shed a subdued light on the narrow stage, making the jazz concert an impressive show as well as an intimate ambience. 

But the real stars of the night are undoubtedly the cocktails. Everything matters: the menu (presented on a card deck), the glass itself (don't miss the snail-shaped tea pot), the tasteful decorations (subtle touches fruits, smoked barks or flowers), and of course the flavours, ranging from the rich, fruity aromas of the pre-prohibition cocktails to the woody or citrusy notes of the post-war ones.


One of my best experiences in London, I went there with 2 friends visiting and we only had to wait 20 min for a table without booking. The speakeasy atmosphere is charming and the live band adds a lot to it. And those cocktails are just incredible! Extensive menu of cocktails, it took us 15 min to figure out the one we wanted, all super original and well presented. It comes at a price (£5 entry, £15 a cocktail on average) but is really worth it!

Nightjar is a speakeasy bar close to Old Street in East London, highly recommend to make a reservation in advance. We were lucky and I managed to arrange a reservation for 3 people during the live performance. And waw, my friends and I purely loved it! First of all I must say that the staff is incredibly helpful and friendly! The bar itself is a cosy, underground basement, perfect for a romantic date! The cocktails are delicious and some unique combinations are made in Nightjar. You can have some small bites as well if you are really hungry. The band is a real plus and they were absolutely amazing! 

Maybe a small minus is the acoustic, we were sitting in front of the band and it wasn't really easy to have a conversation, but we could enjoy the band, which was great! 


Nightjar is a small speakeasy bar that you could easily walk past on City Road. Look out for the bird logo!

You must book a table in advance and on certain evenings (sometimes after a certain time) you have to pay a cover charge (around £5-10pp) for the live jazz. Note: sometimes you have to book 3-4 weeks in advance.

A decent range of very original cocktails at around £11-15 with the menu divided into historical eras (pre-Prohibition, post war etc). Wonderful low-lit room with comfortable seating and good service.

Lovely venue – definitely worth a try and a great date venue. As Nightjar has been so popular, they have recently opened a sister branch in Farringdon called Oriole.


Near Old Street tube is an inconspicuous looking door with a bird on it. A nightjar in fact (who knew that was a bird?) According to the RSPB they arenocturnal birds and can be seen hawking for food at dusk and dawn’, the sort of bird I can relate to. This door leads down to a basement bar where live jazz, blues and soul music from the 1920’s-1950’s is playing, teamed with amazing cocktails divided into pre-prohibition, prohibition, post-war and signature. It has become phenomenally popular since it opened (you definitely have to book) and yet I still don’t know anyone else who has been there. The atmosphere is perfect for a first date..


Speakeasy bar in Old Street. A small sign of a nightjar in front door, stairs going downstairs and you get into a new world. Expect relaxed crowd (not standing people allowed here), comfortable seating, live music and amazing cocktails. You will be really surprised by their cocktails. Completely justifiable that they are 3rd among the best cocktail bars worldwide. Don't just turn up - booking is essential.


Coolest speakeasy bar in London. It's hard to get a table, so book in advance. The cocktails are the best around in London, they are a bit pricey but worth every penny as they are all unique, cool and quirky. They have live music, for which there is a cover charge. They also have regular master classes on Monday nights, they have recently opened a sister branch called oriole, which is just as fab.


I am not surprised this place is one of the best bars in the world. It definitely deserves its award. They dont just make drinks, they make dreams. These concoctions come in amazing vessels and go down so easily. You would never imagine many of the the ingredients used would feature on a cocktail menu. Great venue for live music as well if you are lucky enough to get an earlier table. Finally, the staff are some of the friendliest you will ever find, even amongst bars. Hard to get a table but well worth the wait. 


Still one of the best cocktail bars in London. Reasonably priced and just enough panache to make the drinks fun and entertaining. They have music on some nights which is always great (think jazzy/WWII era style). 

Drinks are around £10-£16 but they have some crazy sharing drinks which I highly recommend :)

In short, a great night out for sure with a date or with friends!


What can I say, this is a must if you venture towards Shoreditch.  Cocktails, 3 Man Blues Group, Pleasant Staff and leave fairly tipsy.

The cocktails here are fantastic.  They all taste great, they are creative and strong.  The band that come on from around 9pm were so fantastic and really added to the atmosphere.  You have to book and find the inconspicuous door, but well worth the travel.

Interesting, tasty and strong cocktails in a great venue with live music most nights. Book ahead!


This place was magic. I had my Birthday here and it was the perfect spot. The live jazz band were brilliant and the cocktails were like something out of alice and wonderland, in fact one punch bowl was served in a silver top hat. I was in a group of 10 so it meant we could oder some of the larger cocktails. My favourite arrived in a copper tank that was steaming from the top. 


This is absolutely my favourite cocktail bar in London! To get a table on a Friday or Saturday night you have to book about three months in advance, but it is so worth it. They have pages and pages of cocktails in their menu, and the effort they put into the presentation of drinks is amazing. A favourite is the barrel aged zombie, which comes topped with a piece of cake soaked in spirits! Make sure to book a table after 8.30 so that you can stay to watch the music, which starts at 9.30pm and really adds to the experience.


Nightjar is a favourite spot for cocktails - when I want to splash out. I've never had the same drink twice because the choices are all so inventive, tasty and beautifully presented. You'll rarely get a walk-up table, except maybe at 6pm just as it opens, but the booking system is easy. I've only dipped into the food options once, but the tapas/snack dishes were delicious and more substantial than anticipated. 

It's expensive, but I think relatively good value for the different experience. 

Having visited Nightjar on numerous occasions, I cannot fault it.

Firstly, the bar itself: prepare to step into a den of iniquity, a throwback in time to 1920s Prohibition era America. Standing is not allowed so you'll need a table; you can end up crammed in but not in an uncomfortable way; rather, it just enhances the experience.

Secondly, the music: a rich array of different types of jazz dependent on the night, each with its own flavour. I've yet to visit and not like whoever's playing.

Thirdly, the drinks: prepare to pay double figures for a cocktail. However, the care and quality that goes into each creation makes it worthwhile. The Old Fashioned is flawless and there are a number of bizarre concoctions to try.

MOST IMPORTANTLY - book well in advance to avoid disappointment! Two weeks, even on a weeknight. You can queue up and chance it and, if there are two of you then you'll probably be okay. But in a larger group, definitely book.

This place is such an experience, each cocktail is beautifully crafted! We cam e here for after work drinks ... it was perfect as usually they book up so far in advance for the later music slot (which i've been to before and us girls loved the music) but even early on without the live music the atmopshere is great and the drinks were incredible! Will go again!!! 

If you love delicious cocktails – then this place is for you… The selection of boozy concoctions are inspired, elaborate and very tasty. Add to that, a candle-lit cosy ambiance, brilliant bluesy live music and fantastic service – you’re guaranteed to have a great night… Highly recommended.

Staff Writer

I agree with the comment below - this place is a real experience. It is theatrical, dramatic, and the cocktails really are something else and probably among the best in London. The atmosphere does recreate something of the speakeasie and the music put on just adds to that authenticity. The service was generally good and efficient, if a little aloof (with a strict table policy and little flexibility) but that is not the reason to go.


More than drinks, more than a bar, nightjar is a true experience. If you like jazz and specially the 30's/40's/50's you will love it! It was one of my high moments in London!

A good test for a really good cocktail bar is if they can make the classics that are not on the menu...Hemmingway Daiquiri and Mint Julep were very average. Excessive garnishes make you feel like you are wearng your drink rather than drinking it.

I haven't been here yet but I'm seriously intrigued. My friend and I are traveling to your fantastic city in late November early December. We will be coming from the states...San Diego and Phoenix to be exact. Signed up to receive any updates and specials you may be planning. Looking forward to having a superb cocktail and toast our new friends in London!!!

I've had a drinks at NightJar a few months back and it was really lovely atmosphere and amazing cocktails indeed. However yesterday (Friday night) I came back and received the worst and most shocking customer service I've ever experienced! I've started my evening elsewhere, at a private Prohibition party with a bunch of friends. The party had ended around midnight and as we were already dressed the part, my friend and I (we're both females) had decided to go to NightJar for a late cocktail. We arrived just after 12 and had to wait outside for about 15-20 minutes as we hadn't booked a table, together with a few others. That was fine and we chatted and waited patiently to get in, to what we had imagined was a busy bar. Oh how we were wrong. The place was half empty with only a few tables filled with mostly couples. We were sat by a dark, corner and intimate table, with only one person near us. As we were just 2 friends, the romantic setup did not feel right. We've noticed the 6-8 available bar stools and asked the waitress to move there. As we got up, the waitress told us off and said we should go back to our table as she needed to check if we are able to move to the bar. I've asked if those are reserved seats and she said no. She went on to ask the bar-staff and the two gents looked us up and down and shook their heads, which made us feel very uncomfortable. The waitress had got back to us and quite rudely said that we are not able to move as we would "disrupt" the service and the bar stuff are too busy making drinks for other guests. I have to say, that we were NOT drunk, typsy or loud and we dressed very smartly for a 1920's style party. Needless to say we left and did not wish to stay for a second moment. I've never came across anything like this before and quite honestly if they can't accomodate guests at the bar, they should remove the stools and not the guests... I will never go back and if you value good, customer service that is not arrogant nor pretentious you should stay away from this place too...

I visited Nightjar on the first Thursday night of the new year, to meet with a friend I hadn't seen in years. When I booked over the phone that day, the staff were very friendly and accommodated my request to be tucked away around the corner somewhere quiet. Upon arrival the member of staff on the door was quite impolite in manner as she took my name and walkie-talkied through to her colleagues downstairs, but I would expect no more of door staff! Once inside, it was a completely different story. I was bowled over by the gorgeous interior, especially its amber lighting with tea-lights and the reflections on the gold roof and glass cabinets around. The staff were great - struck the balance between professional and chatty/smiley just right, showing me to my table. Service was quick, and needless to say the cocktails were fab. My only criticism would be this... we came early evening to avoid staying to watch the live music (the division of these two stages of the night when making reservations is awkward enough as it is, but understandable), and were told we could have our table until 8:45pm. However at 8pm, a waitress came to our table (and all of the other tables around us) and informed everyone that there was a large group coming, so could we please start finishing our drinks. Luckily we had other plans, but I thought it was quite cheeky! The table we had supposedly been given until 8:45 was pulled from under our feet half an hour early! For that reason my 5* rating falls to a 4*.

To update some of the posts here - there is a cover charge, which they add on - even if you don't stay for the music! It was my first experience of the Nightjar last night - wanted to experience the Piaf tribute as part of the Chanteuse theme. The vernue itself is excellent and the initial service by the Australian waitress was attentive and professional. But it was all downhill from there. When the act came on, it was as if she was expected to perform in the middle of a rugby scrum. The noise of the clientele was off the decibel scale and they showed no repect for the artist. If you expect to listen to the performers, then on this visit, the Nightjar is not a venue for serious music lovers. I had booked this venue for a company outing later this month - this won't be happenning. The food choice was over-priced, and very limited. There was no meat on the menue due to 'issues witht the meat slicer'! Need I say more? We ended up having the bill ammended - no way was I going to pay a cover charge for such an experience. The Manger was very polite and apologetic!

Wonderful. I hope not too many people discover it so I can keep enjoying it. Wonderful cocktails, friendly service, intriguing location and good music

What an amazing place! I have recently developed a taste for cocktails and have made it a mission to try out as many of the speakeasies as possible. This one is without a doubt, the best! The atmosphere, the music (particularly the live music), the extensive cocktail list and the staff all create a place that is exciting EVERY time. The attention to detail should be noted, even to the little pots of popcorn on the tables. Genuinely love this place

Great intimate venue. Service brilliant, hosts friendly and well informed. Music not quite to taste but congruous with the speakeasy feel. Will return!

following the trend of speakeasies which are popping up all over the city (Purl, Worship St. whistleshop, 69 Colebrook Row), following on a trend that milk and honey started 9 years ago, they just about get it right. The cocktails are good, not great, good beer list, and a good wine list, food is over priced for the amount you get, plus its open till 3 with no cover charge. which is a massive bonus. But if you you do get there wel into the night expect to be held at the door for an inexcusable amount of time before being let in, to see that there are over 4 tables free that you could have taken when you first got to the front door, and this is why. The bartenders are slow, if you are ordering a round of cocktals for 4 people or more, then buy a beer while you wait. This is because drinks will come out in dribs and drabs when they are ready not as a whole table order. Your beers will arrive first, then your cocktails bout 10-15 mins later and not at the same time, leaving that problem of the first person to get their drink will have finished by the time the last person gets theres. I waited nearlly 20 mins for 2 drinks, there menu is to big, to over compicated and the bartenders take a while to make, which then leaves the servers not wanting to make eyecontact with guests as they know what you are already going to ask, so this makes them seem unattentive. And they dont have Coke Cola, so having a classic rum and coke is off the cards. Good bar let down by poor, slow service, just order that beer.

I absolutely love the Nightjar. Just hoping it doesnt get too much buzz in London and find I can't get in one day! Fabulous attention to details when it comes to the cocktails. Highly recommended... not everyone at once though!

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