“Joyeux Bordel” translates to “jolly mess” (or, more literally, joyful brothel, but that’s another matter entirely). It’s a funny name for a cocktail bar that is, in all other respects, immaculate.
It isn’t surprising that this is a place with polish, given that it was opened by the team behind the wildly popular Experimental Cocktail Club. Located in a basement off of Old Street, the sizeable space is outfitted with a long banquette, lines of little tables, and a pretty oak and marble bar that swims up out of the darkness.
That bar also turns out wickedly clever cocktails. The Bric-A-Brac blends elderflower cordial with Yellow Chartreuse, Lillet Blanc, Champagne and a whisper of herbal sage. The Buttered Old Fashioned is made not with whiskey but spiced butter-washed rum and coconut water syrup. And the house Jolly Mess sounds sweet on the menu, with its Mozart chocolate liqueur, pear eau de vie, rye and cardamom syrup, but instead it’s beautifully boozy – like the sultry cousin of a Manhattan. This is a place to settle in for hours – if only to try and work through as much of the menu as possible.