Worship Street Whistling Shop. Worship Street Whistling Shop. Try saying that tongue-twister after a couple of (excellent) cocktails at this Shoreditch speakeasy bar!
Tucked underground on an otherwise barren road near Old Street, the Whistling Shop celebrated its third birthday just last week. Owned by Fluid Movement (the team behind Marylebone’s Purl bar), Whistling Shop is more Victorian than Purl in its décor, but the style of the drinks is similar.
It felt like a bit of a shame to go underground on such a lovely evening, leaving the sunny streets at the top of the stairs to go deep underground. And WSWS is dark. Like, so dim that taking photographic evidence of ever having been there is nigh on impossible!
It’s a large establishment – lots of tables, dark wood, Chesterfield sofas, fireplaces, candelabras, bookcases, mounted deer heads, etc. It’s the kind of place it would be great to escape to if it was cold and wet outside, as it’s very cosy and homely.
There’s even a distillery on-site (complete with rotary evaporators, vacuum technology, and a large array of bottled enzymes, acids and hydrocolloids!), which is used for making the majority of syrups, liquors, bitters and soft drinks that you see on the menu.
The menu is split into four sections: Grape, Grain, Hops and Barrel, and cocktails take inspiration from trends and drinking cultures of days gone by. We asked our friendly waiter for advice, as the menu is devoid of any well-known names, instead concocting new flavours and mixes. In the end, we went for a Onesie (a take on an Old Fashioned: Four Roses Bourbon, Hop Distillate + Pale Ale Syrup) and a Chase Marmalade Vodka (Tea Infused Marmalade Vodka + Homemade Lemonade).
I was blown away by Aurelia’s tea and marmalade cocktail – an overwhelmingly citrusy beverage that was incredibly refreshing, like an old fashioned lemonade, just citric enough to make your lips pucker!
Aurelia is an old schoolfriend (and fellow foodie/travel blogger, of City Turtle fame) who I haven’t seen for a full ten years. We had such a huge amount to catch up on that we made our drinks last for two whole hours, curled into the corners of our Chesterfield sofa, nattering away.
We visited on a Tuesday, and there were only two other tables taken in the bar – this was good for us, as it meant we could easily hold a conversation in the quiet, but it does make me wonder when/if it gets busy, and what the atmosphere would be like then.
My verdict? A nice hidden gem, off the beaten track, with excellent drinks and décor. It’s pretty upmarket, so you could take parents or clients, I reckon – or it would be a great spot for a second or third date if you wanted to take advantage of the cosy corners and seriously moody lighting!
Our drinks came to £12.50 each (including service), which isn’t too bad considering we made it last a couple of hours.