This secretive live music bar and basement off Kingsland Road does everything at its own pace, but provides a fantastic atmosphere every time it opens its doors.
Although it's located only a few minutes’ walk from Dalston Kingsland station on Bradbury Road, Servant Jazz Quarters can be easily missed – its entrance is an unmarked black door and the bar operates on some very relaxed hours, usually opening on evenings towards the end of the week. The interior is enticing once you gain access, however, with dim neon light cast on a multitude of curios (masks, mannequins, stuffed birds, Spanish guitars, an upright piano), and a small bar with an artful spirits display. Seating is mismatched, with stools, armchairs and pews lining the walls on the multi-level ground floor, and the hodge-podge theme is reprised in the basement. The latter plays host to regular concerts and comes equipped with speakers, mixing desk and a fantastic, carpeted stage with embossed chrome-coloured walls. Fairy lights and candles in bottles complement the other-worldly design impeccably.
When it deigns to receive the general public (or at least a young, trendy cross-section of it), Servant Jazz Quarters gets the vibe spot-on, with extra-friendly staff and a relaxing décor. Despite the name, the club’s basement plays host to all sorts of music genres, from jazz (often unamplified) to world music and rock 'n’ roll, as well as occasional stand-up comedy gigs. Events are often free, but cover charges can come into effect according to the night’s acts, so check the listings before you visit. Either way, the atmosphere on both floors is far more relaxing and enjoyable than any club just off busy Kingsland Road has any right to be.
In keeping with the vaguely secretive aura surrounding the venue, the bar offers a series of hand-crafted yet relatively cheap cocktails (£7.50) straight out of the Prohibition era, including the Tom Collins, Old Fashioned and Martini, as well as some more inventive concoctions like the La Havas (Kraken rum, ginger beer, lime and bitters). There is no beer on tap, but bottles such as Modelo and Vedett (£3-£4) are in plentiful supply, not to mention Aspalls cider and a selection of red and white wine. Jazz purists should try the freshly-squeezed orange juice, a steal at just £2.
The Last Word
A charismatic haven for in-the-know Dalstonites, Servant Jazz Quarters eschews conventional bar opening hours and design in favour of a wonderfully unique atmosphere and eclectic music.