Here on Highball Hoodoo we had already reviewed this summer’s Aperol Spritz Terrazza open on the roof terrace of Bird of Smithfield – but it hides so much more.
A comfy restaurant and bar on the ground floor, with the private-bookings Birdcage in the basement serve up some cocktails that rival the best of Clerkenwell.
The ground floor bar is perfect for the day time – bright eggshells and greys with scattered kitsch and 70s throwbacks make a great space for an afternoon hang out or meeting. The Birdcage downstairs, though, takes the lighting down a notch for a sexy charcoal and cerulean, lit by mirrors and illuminated trees and birdcages.
Bartenders are wonderful, service is swift, and servers are more than happy to discuss the cocktail with you.
The new cocktail menu launched earlier this year appeals to a variety of palates and flavours, and does not shy from a little bit of experimentation.
Beginning with the Cointreauversial: Cointreau, Remy Martin VSOP cognac, apricot brandy, lime, Angostura bitters. The first wash is the rich and floral cognac, with strong notes of apricot and nectarine, violet and vanilla, giving way to the Cointreau’s orange and a stronger citrus, finally becoming quite tart.
A great option for those enjoying citrus and floral flavours, but want something a bit rich and not served long or with ice.
The Mr. Pacifico – I do love this cocktail: Mezcal, Pisco, blackberry and blueberry shrub, cardamom bitters, chilli vermouth, and Fernet Branca. Pisco ain’t easy to use in a cocktail – but this smoky/spicy tipple is just what you need when you want a bit of bite with your fruity sour/sweet.
The Lucky One is another that defies convention. Tincup Whiskey, Flaming Pig liqueur, Negra Modelo ale syrup, ginger bitters, lemon, Angostura bitters, egg white. The ale syrup really mellows out the other powerful flavours we see here: the cinnamon sweetness of the Flaming Pig, the butterscotch and high rye spice of the Tincup and ginger bitters. So what we get is an easy to down, grain-strong spicy tankard. Love it.
The LDN: BOLD London Cherry Spirit, Aperol, Cynar, orange & mandarin bitters, rhubarb bitters. BOLD does it again! Aperol dominates, but enjoys complexity added by the bittersweet Cynar and the sweetness of BOLD cherry. The citrus bitters are more noted here, adding an almost sparkling flicker in the cocktail.
Aperol Spritzes are well and good, but the LDN does not compromise on ABV and celebrates Aperol in way only London could.
The Lord of Isles is another favourite here: Botanist gin, rhubarb and thyme syrup, Cynar, Kummel, and lime. Served for two, smoking inside a treasure chest, the box is opened to unveil two small cocktails in tiki glasses.
Not a sweet cocktail, but bright and herbal, with added depth from the Cynar. You’d almost forget it was gin. Warm and citrus with spice from the Botanist leads to the Kummel’s light aniseed flavour, but not compromising on it’s coating mouthfeel – finally enjoying a bit of sweetness from the rhubarb and thyme and then settling on the depth of Cynar, with a Kummel finish.
An enigmatic and adventurous cocktail. Loved around the table.
Not Just a Dram: Bruichladdich whisky, Lapsang souchong tea, lime juice, yellow chartreuse, sage leaves, plum and cardamom bitters.
I was hoping this would be a short, smoky cocktail – however the Not Just a Dram is served similar to a Julep, tall and filled with crushed ice.
I’d really like to return to try this straight up in a coupe, to really enjoy the whisky and tea. The brightness of the Bruichladdich is meant to be contrasted against the smoky lapsang, but I couldn’t get much with the ice here. Tasted a wee bit watered down, I’m afraid. Considering I absolutely *love* the sound of these ingredients together!
Definitely returning for this.
The Kenko Cha goes East by adding pineapple-infused Tanqueray gin to Canton ginger liqueur, Matcha, grapefruit, lime, sugar and egg white.
This was one cocktail I didn’t quite take to, but to be fair, I do have a slight aversion to strong pineapple flavours. And man was it strong here. I couldn’t help but feel it drowned out the others, and so missed the potential.
All in all: I love this bar. Wonderful service coupled with a large variety of cocktail flavours and various levels from the basement to terrace for different events make this bar a winner. Bird of Smithfield is a must when in Clerkenwell.
Bird of Smithfield
26 Smithfield St, Clerkenwell
London EC1A 9LB