If being reminded of your tenure as a pimply teenager at school sends shivers of horror down your spine then the Old School Yard, with its youthful exuberance and schoolyard memorabilia, may be a challenge. Skip it and you’ll be missing some of the best cocktails in London.
This fun and funky Borough bar will make you relive your carefree school days, albeit this time you’ll be fuelled by killer cocktails rather than orange squash. Back then, when you ran out of the school grounds with your face turned to the sunny blue sky (here it’s painted on the ceiling), you probably weren’t running straight to a cocktail bar. That’s just what you’ll be doing at the Old School Yard though, as this is where the action takes place with flairing bartenders, flaming cocktails and an amazing menu.
Amidst the retro schoolboy touches (arcade games, lockers and sports trophies) in this comfortably sparse space is a seriously good bar entertaining a thriving crowd with cool tunes, games on the Wii and exuberant bartending. Scramble through the cosy outdoor BBQ space out back to get downstairs to the snug karaoke room (complete with squishy couches and a mic stand for the divas) and the awesome basement bar. This quirky, eclectic space (done out like a mad scientist’s kitchen) is available for private hire and is also the scene of the Tuesday night Cocktail School. Designed for parties, hen nights, corporate dos and the like, this booze-fuelled tutorial by the Schoolyard’s cocktail craftsmen will teach you how to shake and stir with the best of them, balancing flavours and creating your own concoctions.
It’s is a little off the beaten track so crowds can be somewhat unpredictable, but with a 12.30am last orders and 1am licence on Fridays and Saturdays, there’s plenty of fun to be had. Depending on how busy it is, you’ll either be chilling on the couch savouring a drink or downing shots of Jagermeister with the accommodating bar staff. The Old School Yard is full of people having good old fashioned fun and the classic hits soundtrack is sure to get you on the dance floor.
The cocktails here are truly special. Not only are the freshest ingredients used (often sourced from nearby Borough Market) but your drink will be delivered to you with character, flair and finesse rarely seen in busy London bars.
Take your pick from the comic-book style menu (divided into school subjects), have it customised to suit your tastes and enjoy the show as your drink is juiced, muddled, flamed and thrown through the air in impressive manoeuvres by the skilled mixologists. You’ll not be disappointed once it hits your tastebuds – their Cosmopolitan, sweetened with fresh berries, would make even Carrie swoon. Their award-winning, delicious Bloody Mary (favouring Italian Modena balsamic vinegar over Tabasco as the secret ingredient) bursts with freshness and will leave you gasping for more. For the boys, live like Denzel Washington and try the Man on Fire, a warming whisky cocktail infused with fresh rosemary. At this high standard, the prices are nuts - cocktails start at just £4.90, and the unique Bloody Mary and Cosmo come in at £5.90. An even crazier happy hour deal runs from 6pm-8pm daily and all night on Sunday, where you can get cocktails for £4.50, beers for £2.50 and cocktail jugs for £12.
There’s also a huge selection of spirits and some wine and bubbles to choose from. In bottled beer, there’s Tiger, Monteith, Becks (and Magner’s cider) all for £3.30.
The Last Word
Fiercely independent and fuelled by fun and frivolity, this stalwart of the London cocktail scene is hard to beat. Just like Cat Stevens sang, you’ll definitely remember your days in the Old School Yard.