Please note, Ray’s Bar is now closed. Time Out Editors, May 2018.
Drinking at Ray’s Bar in Dalston feels a little like going on a first date when you’re still thinking about your ex. I had a burning love for Dance Tunnel, the late basement club that occupied the space below pizzeria Voodoo Ray’s, which Ray’s Bar has replaced. This new squeeze is a worthy rebound, though – lively, yet dark and seductive.
The look? ‘Miami Vice’-meets-future-disco, with glittering granite worktops, mirrored wall tiles and zigzag patterns in pink and black. This is fully complemented by a soundtrack of deep beats that sound as sharp as ever through the hefty Funktion One soundsystem.
Ray’s menu sees cocktails laid out in chapters: aperitifs ‘to start’, ‘mains’ and sweet, creamy drinks ‘to finish’, plus a section labelled ‘the afterparty’, containing overproof elixirs. Bar staff served up cheeky drinks with equally cheeky chat, and almost all of both hit the spot. The Scotch Mist was the best of the drinks we tried, whisky given a tangy twist from orange sherbet, ginger and lemon. A gin-based Shady Pines had a gorgeous forest scent. The Crazy Talk was a bit too adventurous: balsamic vinegar added an unnecessary sweet-sour aftertaste to tequila and vermouth. Peckish? Then order pizza from Voodoo Ray’s upstairs, which come in gigantic 22-inch pies.
I had some great times with Dance Tunnel, but I have more than a little crush on Ray’s Bar. A second date is totally on the cards.