As much as I like trying out new cocktails, half of the fun is finding new and quirky places to try them.
I've recently migrated from match.com and was trying out this new dating website called Doingsomething www.doingsomething.co.uk. Doingsomething is based on a fantastic premise of providing novel and interesting date ideas so that the focus isn't on being stressed making a good first impression but the joy of doing something fun. So this was my first date with a guy from it who seemed to have the impression I was this daredevil (crazy to assume that from my photos of paragliding, snowmobiling and climbing up a 70ft mast...).
The date recommended we explore around Shoreditch (hurrah!), however due to a tardy update, I was dressed more Park Lane than Brick Lane but my wardrobe contains nothing suitable for Shoreditch anyway.
The first stop was the Nightjar, (129 City Road http://www.barnightjar.com/). An innocuous entrance that led down to an atmospheric, dimly lit speakeasy bar. I had a Palm Beach Special which had tanquery gin, pink grapefruit, Cocchi sweet vermouth (drink from an Italian region) with a floral crusta which I didn't quite know what it was until it arrived and the outside of the glass was coated in a fine, sweet slightly dusty texture. The pink grapefruit with the vermouth gave it a sweet yet dry taste which was quite enjoyable. I liked the look of the place and the classic prohibition style but felt it was bordering on being slightly pretentious. The staff were polite but not especially personable. I can see there was real labour of love with the drinks made an thankfully the drink tasted nice but there was a lot of focus to make it look good.
Next was Casita (5 Ravey Street, EC2A 4QW), a bar with hardly any space to swing a rat let alone a cat but a lively, fun and friendly place that was the complete opposite of Nightjar but the same level of discreet entrance that almost didn't want to be found. This is probably a place to go with mates than a date. It's also the sort of place if you live in trendy Shoreditch then it's a nice local haunt but not to make a special trip for.
Then onto the Book Club, (100 Leonard Street http://www.wearetbc.com/). I heard about this from a previous date who seems to have his opinion of me on a mental yo-yo. Anyway this place is so typical Shoreditch and quite well known which is why I was being slightly snottish about the Essex style people in the queue. The cocktail names were as quirky as the way it was written on the wall like a love note people write on public toilets. I had a Don't go to Dalston which was ketel one vodka, raspberry and cherry with champagne. A girly, fresh and fruit drink which I really enjoyed. I also had a Kick the pigeon which was vanilla rum with elderflower and prosecco. Yummy yummy.
Final stop the Whistling Shop on Worship Street (http://www.whistlingshop.com/). Again a place I heard about on Doingsomething and a wonderfully atmospheric and dimply lit speakeasy. I loved that the bartenders were wearing dickie bows and looked like they came straight from the 1920's. Unfortunately I can't remember what we had but I remember it being really strong and came with an old school test tube (which was only filled with water after all the drama of the presentation). I preferred the look of the Nightjar but the feel of this place, it felt more homely which was quite nice.
Speakeasys are a good suggestion for a date, every looks good by candle light and the novelty of it indeed makes it a talking point. Depending on what kind of night you're after, I would recommend the Nightjar, and Whistling Shop as a one-off visit but wouldn't make it a regualr habit to go there, perhaps because I didn't have a cocktail worth coming back for. I really liked the Book Club and it's quirky ways and would definitely go back again for a boogie with friends, again not quite a date venue.