My friend and I recently had the best girl’s night out ever – at a brand spanking new cocktail bar called Oriole.
Hidden away below London’s iconic Smithfield Market, you’ll find yourself in a sort of Neverland – an exotic and intriguing space inspired by travel and adventure from the Congo to the Amazon.
The cocktail menu is inspired by the bygone era of exploration and discovery, referencing drinking habits of the Old World, New World and the Orient. The bar features a central stage for live music (seven nights a week), and the décor is exotic and colonial – kind of like a Mahiki, but for grown-ups.
Oriole is named after the exotic bird species found across Africa, Europe, Asia and Australia, and the cocktail menu reflects this by interpreting the flavours and tastes of all these parts of the world. It’s the latest success from the founders of one of the world’s most notorious and legendary bars, Nightjar, and Oriole maintains the same great ideas; live entertainment and fabulous cocktails.
It was near impossible to find, in what felt like a strange parking lot in the middle of Smithfields market, then through an obscure door and down some stairs, into the busy and bustling bar.
We walked past the main stage where a Brazilian jazz band were playing, and nestled into a seductive little leather booth. We tried cocktail after cocktail, each one more fabulous than the one before, and tried a few ‘grazing plates’ – lovely little snacks to share, like fried corn kernels, green papaya salad, and even sea bass miso.
The rest of the night was a bit of a blur. When the band eventually stopped playing and it was time for us to go we didn’t want to leave! Next thing I knew we were on stage dancing and having a go at the bongo drums – it’s safe to say neither of us have any musical talent.
Oriole really is the perfect way to escape for an evening, and offers a glorious sense of disconnection from the outside world. I have no doubt that it’ll soon become one of London’s top cocktail destinations and I can’t wait to go back – except next time I’ll leave the drumming to the experts!