The sister bar of Nightjar was never going to disappoint! Equally inconspicuous under the covered Smithfield meat market (romantic I know), there is a door that says Oriole on it. Just an FYI for your date, apparently an Oriole is a secretive bird which keeps to the high tree canopy, it can be heard, most often at dawn, giving its distinctive fluting whistle. It flies rather like a thrush – slightly undulating. Weird.
Anyhoo, the staircase down to the bar is pretty dark so if you are like me and ridiculously clumsy BE CAREFUL. It is not great date etiquette to arrive on the date in a heap at the bottom of a staircase, but I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you that.
The bar itself is very stylish and low lit with candles on each table and waitresses who take your drinks orders, which is always nice on a date so you don’t have to keep leaving each other unattended to queue at the bar. However this blessing can also be a curse if you need to text your friend alerting them you will need the rescue phone call…’Oh sorry I have to go because…my friend has fallen into a ravine…and I have to go help her….BYE!’
The cocktails are the main draw here with the menu divided into 3 parts – Old World, New World and the Orient in terms of where the ingredients for these cocktails have come from and been inspired by. All of them are little works of art with bizarre ingredients including Absinthe treacle, Mustard foam, Korean BBQ Zinfandel and Marzipan Grappa! Many of the ingredients were completely alien to me but there is a helpful little glossary at the back of the cocktail menu telling you what the hell you are actually drinking. The theatre of the cocktails is a great talking point whether you think it’s ridiculous or love it! My favourite was the Karachi Sour served in a glass seashell with ‘sea dust’ sprinkled inside so when you went to take a sip you can smell the sea.
They start playing live music at around 8pm which there is a £5 cover charge for so it’s either a great date for a few cocktails, live music with bar snacks or to go for a few pre-dinner drinks.
Cocktails are around £12-£14 each which is understandable when you think about how hard it must be to make Alligator Dust – an actual ingredient. Ridic.
Nearest tube is Chancery Lane or Barbican.