This weird and wonderful east London lounge bar serves one of a kind cocktails in a setting that makes you feel as if you've jumped into a children's book.
Positioned on Curtain Road, Nightyeight has a central spot in Shoreditch's so-called Trendy Triangle, but is tricky to find nevertheless. Head towards the Great Eastern Street end, look down from street level to find a winding spiral staircase and you've hit the spot. The bar has a very exclusive members-only feel to it from the moment you reach the red-curtained doorway – and the fairytail-like setting will be something you've never seen before. Seating is an assortment of marble covered tables and fur lined chairs, vintage sofas, chaise longues, one of a kind 'coffee' tables and a free-standing drinkless bar that you can perch either side of and chat. The actual bar is full of oddities, including straw holders made from lego, rubber ducks and cakes and sweeties galore. The bar is surprisingly large and as you head further into the magical surroundings, you'll continue to be wowed. There's gumball machines, plants everywhere, vintage-esque mirrors and quirky artwork on the walls. Upstairs, there's a space where mixologists run cocktail-making classes, while art exhibitions run on and off throughout the year.
Despite the decor giving the venue an overwhelmingly exclusive feel, the staff – especially the owners – are very welcoming. They're seriously skilled in cocktail making and will happily adapt to your tastebuds. The background music gives the place a relaxed feel – both new and old hits please the crowd, while the volume is at a sociable level. At the weekend, a DJ spins some more uplifiting beats, while events also take place from time to time – and you can expect to see a jazz band play, for example. The crowd is made up of mostly 'in the know' new media types who work and live in the surrounding area.
This is a place where the mixologists know what they're doing. Cocktails are all priced at £9 – which may sound like a lot, but in today's Shoreditch is actually pretty reasonable. Especially when you consider what you're getting for your money. The cocktails are as weird and wonderful as the setting and the menu is an assortment of unique drinks crafted by the staff at the venue. Staff infuse the alcohol (unlike other venues that infuse the syrup) before they make the drinks – making even the harshest-tasting whisky a palatable beverage. And every drink is served in a different glass, which turn the cocktails into a real work of art. The Karai is one for spice fans – made with lemongrass, ginger, peppercorn, chilli-infused tequila and pomegranate liquor, the drink has a definite kick to it, but with a gentle zest too – not for those with a sensitive palate. For a lighter drink, try the eucalyptus martini, made with eucalyptus-infused gin, freshly squeezed lemon juice and triple sec, it's smooth, but deliciously refreshing too.
Don't be afraid to ask for something off-menu either – a drink that the staff love making is the super-sweet tasting Off The Clouds. It's ingredients include Candyfloss, white rum and fresh lime and it's the coolest drink you'll probably ever has. Ask about the story behind it to brighten up your day…
When you sit down to order drinks, you have a choice of sweet or salted popcorn too – again, another touch that makes the cocktail-drinking experience even more special. This is on the house – a nice gesture, but a cynic may see this as a cunning way to build up your thirst for more drinks. But hey, when they’re so delicious, who cares?
The Last Word
With knowledgable mixologists, a fantasty-filled setting and unique infused cocktails, as soon as you've discovered this peculiar hide-out you'll be dying to tell all your friends about it. Go visit while it's still exclusive.