Nightjar’s great collection of old spirits

On the first issue of FUET Magazine, we have featured an interview with Edmund Weil, owner and creator (together with Roisin Stimpson) of the amazing Nightjar bar in London. We talked to him about the rituals that take place at Nightjar and also about some other issues, like the stunning decoration of the bar and their impressive collection of old spirits. You can read the whole interview on our printed edition.

Where did the idea for the decoration originate?

The concept came from Roisin and me. We always wanted to have something inspired by art déco and art nouveau design. We love it, as well as the music from this period. Our design is especially based on late art nouveau. And we got a designer called Lee Broom to help us put things together. But the vast majority of the prints and the cabinets and similar things, we found ourselves, either on Ebay, or on antiques fares… It was of the most fun things from putting it up.

Max Oppenheim-mirrors

You have become so popular these days that it is hard to get a table without booking.

Yes, especially during the live music. And we have to be strict with how many people sit at the bar –if someone is there, we want to give the very best service. The problem is, having to make several drinks and with someone asking questions, it can double or triple the time it takes to make them. So we have actually struggled with this the whole time. That said –and I hesitate to say this–, the bar is the best seat in the house –, not only because you get to watch them work and speak to them, but also because you get to see everything else in the bar: the music, the other people… It’s like the eagle’s nest.

You have one of the largest collections of absinthes in the UK and an impressive display of old spirits. Where did this come from?

When we first opened we saw something available on the market which is very rare: bourbon and rye from the 19th century. And we bought several. All of a sudden vintage spirits became a big thing. For instance, Salvatore’s Bar at The Playboy Club has got a collection, the American Bar at the Savoy as well… So we thought: “we got there first, so we should make a big deal of it”, and we started looking out for more and more. And now we have a collection of everything from rye and bourbon from the 1860s to lots of pre-Prohibition American whiskies or pre-revolutionary Cuban rum. Some of them are genuinely exquisite, really better than what you get today, others not too different –but they are all liquid time capsules. It is the opportunity to try something which was made by totally different methods, in a different situation; it really gives you a feeling of the history. Every tame you take a sip, there is always a bit of romance.

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Text by Marta Bausells
Video by Lydia Esler
Photos by Max Oppenheim (Nightjar’s interiors)
Tom Brookesbank (Nightjar’s bottles)