You’d never know this lively, creative bar was once the grottiest of pubs. Located just off Old Street roundabout, it’s a short stroll from the City (no more than 15 mins max) and you’re on the edge of fun-filled Shoreditch and beyond.
The name gives the game away – this is no normal watering hole. Instead, it aims to combine a high standard of cocktails with art exhibitions showing the work of up-and-coming artists, which changes every two to three months. The decor of the place is not very main stream either; they’re clearly all over the use of recycled or ‘up-cycled’ products. The result is a quirky, somewhat industrial space. I love the creative ways they light the place – a fire extinguisher turned into a lamp for example – and enjoyed the bicycle-turned-into-shelf, on which art is displayed. My favourite? The floor. The tiles remind me of the colourful seaside Portuguese town Cascais – bright, pretty and – dare I say it – arty.
As for the beverages, I very much enjoyed my ‘EspreXO Martini’, which had a good oomph to it and went down very nicely. Hen chose the ‘Gooseberry Bloom’ which was very refreshing and made with my favourite Bloom Gin and other citrusy favours, but perhaps more of a summer drink. Alex opted for a vodka, tonic and orange, which turned out to be a vodka, soda and orange, but mistakes happen. As the rain beat down on the windows, when it came to second round orders we decided to go for a bottle of their house red (£18). This was wonderfully warming and actually quite good. Glasses of house wine are a very decent £4.50, so those on a budget or those who simply don’t like their sweet drinks, take note.
Canvas Bar has a good energy to it. We were there on a Wednesday evening, which, at 6:30, was still relatively empty with a gentle buzz of conversation. Within an hour the lights were dimmed, it was much fuller and a live band had started. They’re open daily until at least midnight (later from Thursday – Saturday) and DJs/entertainers of the musical variety grace the small stage every evening, which is definitely an added plus.
Pricing is fair, but service charge (12.5%) is added to the drinks which grates. Apparently food is an option (they are open from 3pm) so might have to go back to try this.
Old Street really does seem to be a hub for good cocktail bars, as the Worship Street Whistling Shop and Night Jar (next on my list, but always impossible to get a table) reflect.
235 Old Street
London EC1V 9H
020 7336 0275