2 December 2015
Oriole's decor is built around different regions of the globe with drinks to match.
For a travel experience without leaving your seat, this is the place to visit.
The first thing to know about Oriole is that it lies discreetly underneath Smithfields meat market. The bar has taken over from the Cock Tavern, a pub which had unusual opening times to allow market traders from Smithfields a drink after finishing their shifts in the early hours of the morning. Don’t let location prejudgment get in the way though, the decor of this bar is chic, beautifully crafted and smells nothing like a meat market.
Although speakeasies have taken over the bar scene in recent years, Oriole is breaking with trend and designed like a 1940’s club. Both the menu and decor are split into three sections; Old World, New World and The Orient. The place, like its drinks, is vintage yet modern. There are plenty of rare artifacts not only on the walls, shelves and in glass cabinets but also for drinking from. No doubt a private collection Indiana Jones would be proud of.
The staff behind the bar assured us the cocktails would not be too sweet and we definitely wouldn't argue. In a place of this calibre, the drinks are not designed to mask poor quality ingredients. Instead, the menu has taken a year to create to ensure the artisan ingredients work in perfect complex harmony when mixed together.
So the only question is, where do you want to travel?
THE OLD WORLD?
The ‘Blood & Bone’ looked fearsome but fortunately contained neither blood nor bone and was created in honour of the meat market location. A delicate mix of gin mare, almond sherry vinegar, carrot, roasted pepper, stock and kelpie seaweed ale. It's the perfect hit for anyone who likes the flavours of a bloody mary, gazpacho or bolognese drunk from a pasta shell.
THE NEW WORLD?
The ‘Pernambuco’ beautifully balanced exotic fruit flavours to whisk you away to its Brazilian inspired roots. Made from Capucana cachaça, mango wine, Brazilian bark and lemon with a garnish of green tomato sorbet and served flaming from a coconut style vessel.
The ‘Seoul Sour’ packs a punch with its complex sour notes. Ingredients include Johnnie Walker Gold Reserve, Amaro Lucano, Korean BBQ Zinfandel, lemon and saponaria. Just don’t let anyone persuade you to eat the soap garnish; it is genuinely edible but a word of warning - it still tastes like soap.
The artisan ingredients are all made on site in a kitchen which would look at home in a Michelin starred restaurant. Luca and Edmund are passionate about their craft, so you can sit back, relax and enjoy stunning and beautiful drinks in their more than capable hands.
Oriole could well become Nightjar’s stiffest competition as one of the World’s Best Bars.
East Poultry Avenue, Smithfield Markets, London, EC1A 9LH