The first things we noticed about Zilouf’s were the smiles. We were at the bar early on a Monday morning in November, not exactly cocktail hour but that time of the day when you see a bar for what it really is and the sound of a chair scraping across the floor cuts the atmosphere and echoes off every wall and fixture. We were there for Giffard’s Spirit of Art 2014 photoshoot and during the day renowned bartenders from across London slipped in and out, giving up their time at what is for many of them a seldom seen part of the day. It was an opportunity for us to hear from them about what is happening on London’s cocktail scene, the vibrant subculture of late night cocktails, bartenders and body art. More on that next month but right now let’s talk about Zilouf’s and why this bar is worth coming back to again and again.
The team spirit and ‘yeah, we can do that’ attitude from the Zilouf’s staff bowled us over. When service is this good you just know you are in for a good time and we had already decided to head back to Islington and enjoy the bar when the light was falling out of the windows and not streaming in but not before we got a few moments with owner, Andrew Zilouf. Before crossing over to the business side of the bar, Andrew was a financial journalist and he brought that attention to detail with him when he opened Zilouf’s and more recently 100 Hoxton, in Shoreditch. “My team and I wanted to create something a little different. The bar needed to be an expression of ourselves. Every detail, every fixture, every fitting was made or adapted by us”‘ he says. “The piano didn’t work as it was so we broke it up and hung it on the walls in pieces”, he points out. It is the same story with an old TV set and a myriad of other decorations. Overall they combine and complement the service to create the warm familiar feeling of a favourite pair of jeans.
True to our word, we came back a few weeks later and tried a number of cocktails, all brilliant and we included the Espresso Martini, usually the preserve of Sunday Brunchers but very welcome at the end of the evening too. The classic cocktail menu was more than enticing and we can recommend the Apple & Pear Sidecar and Zilouf’s Hurricane without reserve. The strong food offering makes this bar a delight for day and evening and you should plan on spending more than an hour or two enjoying the fun and hospitality on offer.
Apple & Pear Sidecar
Light, dark, overproof and gold rums
and ‘a storm damaged umbrella’