Jazz 'n Juleps
Prepare to be taken on a journey. You'll wonder down dimly lit stairs into a stripped back East London basement bar and find yourself swinging through New York city, tumbling down the streets of New Orleans, sliding into Havana and spinning round Paris.
All it takes is a single note to banish all sense of time and let the outside world evaporate into tomorrow. You have arrived at Kansas Smitty's Bar and I can assure you, you'll never want to leave.
Jazz here is gritty and energetic while enchanting vocals from Pete Horsfall melt the room and leave you dreaming of decades past. Whistle, heckle, clap and dance, this isn't your sit down, shut up and look pretty sort of dive. Get up and feel the music!
Juleps are the name of the game and are all about whisky, mint and whatever else takes your fancy. Whisky-sceptics don't be put off, and suspend judgement for a moment because Kansas Smitty's, with the help of Sean Fennelly from Milk & Honey, have created a delightfully refreshing 8 strong £8 Julep menu with something for everyone.
From the all-round crowd pleaser, the Smitty's Julep (Bourbon, Amaro Bitters, Raisin, Peach, Cassia Bark & Mint) to the Jesuit's Bark Julep (Rum, Clove, Pimento, Lime and Grapefruit Peel, Quinine Cordial & Mint), each cocktail is served over ice in a delightful silver can. None of this crush to oblivion whatnot with the leaves though. A simple clap to release the aroma will do just fine!
My favourite of the evening was the Morning Joe-lep (Bourbon, Coffee Bean, Stem Ginger, Cardamom, Cocoa Nibs & Bitter Orange Marmalade) - anything with coffee and bourbon has my vote! Aside from the Juleps, feel free to give the bartender (and your pocket) a little rest and go for a bottle of the New Orleans Dixie Beer.
Giacomo Smith on sax and clarinet leads the house band, a stellar lineup with Dave Archer on guitar, Ferg Ireland on bass, Pedro Segundo on drums, Ruben fox on sax and Pete Horsfall on trumpet and vocals. Their fingers swiftly travel across the keys and strings, making the seemingly impossible look dangerously simple and all the while with a smile. The exceptional young talent of all the Smitty's musicians will have you captivated in a second and make you wonder how you ever lived without it.
Between sets, it's up to the vinyl to keep the rhythm from the record player spinning behind the bar. Cocktails are shaken and the musicians wonder round the room with their instruments in hand. This is their stage, their playground, and there is nowhere else quite like it.
One glance around the room and you'll see everyone is unable to take their eyes off the band. The Kansas Smitty's have created something truly special, injecting each and every element with the warmth and love of music that keeps me coming back time and again. But don't just take my word for it, polish your jazz shoes, hop on over and join the family!