I rarely find myself in East London these days – It’s the home to creative agencies and secret doorways, and seems to be reserved for the cool hipster types, cat cafes and cereal breakfast joints. Anything goes this side of town.
I recently spent one rainy evening in Canvas Bar, just a few minutes walk from the hectic Old Street roundabout. A long bar lined with tall white candles and décor that was like an artist’s over-spilled palette – pretty floor tiles, tiki decorations, old barrels, high chairs, low chairs, Chesterfield sofa, open brick walls, colourful wallpaper and man-sized body armour guarding the entrance. All this under one roof – but the folks behind this cocktail establishment know how to make it blend. Creativity is evident throughout, including the rather imaginative and extensive cocktail list.It is definitely not easy to choose between cocktails such as “It’s East Darling”, “Pink Diamond” and “Cherry Blossom”.
As I don’t come to this part of town that often, getting seated by the window was enthusiastically received – what a great way to people watch! While I was waiting for my friend, I watched London in the rain – people rushing by, cars honking, the traffic, and swinging umbrellas – all whilst feasting on a large bowl of complimentary popcorn.
The “Smoked Old Fashioned” sparked our interest, and we weren’t disappointed. I must admit bourbons and whiskeys don’t come on top of my drinking list, but this work of art was subtle and delightful. Prepared with cinnamon infused Wild Turkey 81 Bourbon, mixed with Angostura Bitters, adding smoke from burnt lavender and spices, and poured over ice with orange peel – this cocktail was sophisticated, light and enjoyable.
It was an early evening and the vibe was very relaxed, with people stopping by after work for a drink or two. There was a “clubby” feel to it, but still allowing one to have a conversation without needing to shout and over-pronounce words to be heard.
Next time you fancy “Jimmy Choose” without breaking the bank, why not head to the Canvas Bar instead.