Innovative and diverse, writer Giverny Masso pays a visit to Oriole in Smithfield Market to try out the award-winning drinks menu – which contains 21 mixes inspired by flavours from around the world – in a setting that feels warmly detached from the outside world
With its entrance located in a deserted concrete passageway, removed from the usual hustle and bustle of Farringdon, Oriole has the feeling of a prohibition-era speakeasy from the beginning. The basement bar itself feels both exciting and calmly sophisticated, with muted interiors and atmospheric lighting.
The Food and Drink
I’m here to sample the establishment’s new cocktail menu. At first glance I’m at once overwhelmed with the range of flavour combinations and excited by the originality of the menu, which contains a whole host of completely unique cocktail creations.
At the recommendation of the friendly waiter I opt for Number 1 – D’Arrigo (£14) which combines gin with flavours of plum, raspberry, geranium wine and lemon. I could easily gulp this down like juice, delighted by the fruity sweetness with a tangy edge.
My guest opts for another gin-based cocktail, Number 3 – Reunion (£16), which features champagne and is decidedly less sweet, with a herbal finish.
We sample one small plate each, opting for the burratina with smoked aubergine (£9). This feels rather less exciting than the cocktails – and, although we do not sample the other options on the menu, we notice that it is very limited in contrast to the extensive cocktail menu, especially for vegetarians.
My second cocktail – which I order to satisfy both my sweet tooth and peckish-ness – is literally a dessert in a drink. Not for the faint hearted, the Number 16 – Peranakan Fizz, combines gin, fermented marzipan, berry kefir and marshmallow meringue – and I could swear there was some popping candy in there too. Creamy with hints of green tea, I’d highly recommend this tipple for anyone who might enjoy their pudding in liquid form.
Our slot ends before the live music begins, but from 9pm the bar hosts jazz artists (with a cover charge that goes directly to the musicians).
The Wordrobe verdict
To me, Oriole feels more like a late evening and cocktail rather than dinner destination, and this may be when the bar really comes to life.
Cocktail enthusiasts will be delighted with the innovation of the drinks menu – which contains 21 mixes inspired by flavours from around the world – in a setting that feels warmly detached from the outside world.
Make it happen
Where: E Poultry Ave, London EC1A 9LH
How: Find out more and make a booking via oriolebar.com
Words by Giverny Masso, writer