The Hawksmoor: A dinky drinking den in Shoreditch
Nowadays when someone says the words ‘Hoxton’ or ‘Shoreditch’, unfortunately the words ‘stag’ and ‘hen do’ spring to mind. Since I lived in Shoreditch ten years ago, the community has gone through unrecognisable change. Bars have come and gone (some for better i.e. Bar 170, some for worse i.e. Cocomo) as the area has found its ‘personality’ as somewhat of a going-out mecca for those looking for an alternative to the West End. Sadly this has brought with it some inevitabilities: crowded bars, hedonistic revellers and frankly, a lack of places to sit and catch-up with friends over a ‘quiet’ drink.
So when, last weekend, the suggestion of drinks in the Hoxton area was thrown about, I set about finding somewhere which was more akin to our 30-something drinking style.
Having ruled out a couple of favourites – the trendy Hoxton Hotel and cocktail lovers’ favourite, Nightjar (you need to book early to get a table) – I decided to check out the subterranean bar at the Hawksmoor grill on Commercial Street. The dinky drinking den has a speakeasy type vibe and, with its dark, dusky lighting, you could be forgiven for thinking you’d stepped back into a Mad Men-esque era. The cocktail menu too smacks of bygone days with its variety of classic cocktails including the Grapefruit Picador and the Marmalade Cocktail, while the drinks are poured tenderly by the sleek and knowledgeable bartenders.
The decor is decadent but unpretentious with black leather sofas, bottle green tiled walls and candlelit tables. Although packed with glam young things, bar numbers are limited meaning that chances are, you’ll be able to snag a table or cosy drinking booth. Prices aren’t cheap - cocktails are around £9 – but the atmosphere and lack of crowds more than compensates. What’s more, the Hawksmoor serves a tasty bar menu well into the late hours. It’s a bit of a sacrilege that I’ve never eaten at any of the Hawksmoor restaurants before, but if word-of-mouth is to go by, then the food is meant to be excellent.
The only downside is that the bar shuts at a measly midnight on Friday and Saturdays (11pm Monday to Thursday). Reading back over my first paragraph though, that’s probably an ample bedtime anyway these days.
157 Commercial Street
London E1 6BJ
020 7426 4850