With a decadent New Orleans vibe and an elite team of cocktail experts, Shaker & Company hits the mark beautifully.
Completely reworked from its previous guise as Positively 41st Street, Shaker & Company is a brand new cocktail joint halfway up Hampstead Road, between Camden and Euston Road. Notable for its sprawling wooden bar, which takes up almost the entire left-hand wall of the main room, the venue also has plenty of seating space in the form of leather booths and rather lightweight tables, as well as an intimate vaulted crypt downstairs, whose sponsored ‘theme’ varies on a monthly basis.
Vintage decanters and cider bottles are transformed into lights hanging from the ceiling, and the otherwise white walls are decorated by blackboards, glass cabinets and life-size lithograph portraits towards the back. Meanwhile, there is an upright piano and huge cask barrel immediately behind the front door, all watched over by a stuffed deer head, which seems in keeping with the general air of devil-may-care indulgence.
With a vague New Orleans, Prohibition-era vibe and young, switched-on public, Shaker & Company looks set to be a surefire hit with the nearby student population, as well as the more gentrified Camden locals. As the brainchild of a company that has long specialised in providing bespoke bars for independent events, the service is unsurprisingly faultless and great fun to watch, with cocktails regularly set alight and thrown around the bar with expert poise and finesse. Live music or open mics of some description are planned for most nights of the week, and the atmosphere in general is relaxed and refreshingly decadent.
The kitchen offers a range of ‘soul food’ in bite-sized portions (£4.50-£7) – the New Orleans influence shines through in the spicy jambalaya and the particularly tasty vegetarian gumbo, while the miniature burger (sliders) are thoroughly recommended. £16 gets you a choice of three dishes and what amounts to a satisfying, diverse meal for two, and the delicious chocolate brownies with bourbon sauce (£6) should wipe out any restraint you still have left.
The waistcoated staff know their stuff, and could conceivably conjure up just about any tipple you could care to mention from the five shelves of booze behind the bar, with a penchant for pre-Prohibition favourites like the Sidecar or Clover Club. But for the genuine experience you should definitely try some of the house cocktails (£7.50) that they have spent the last few months perfecting – the tequila-laced Breakfast with Obama packs a presidential punch, and the S & Co, served in its own shaker with a sprig of thyme and flaming paprika, is an intoxicating melange of cognac, cider chai and maraschino. And if it all gets a bit much, there is a good selection of bottled beers, not to mention Doom Bar ale and a reasonably-priced wine list (£4-£5 per glass) to provide more traditional fare.
The Last Word
Setting its sights high and backing it all up with consummate execution and charm, Shaker & Company is a bar which should be embraced by those who appreciate the finer things in life - specifically good food and outrageously good cocktails.