Test Driving Joyeux Bordel, The Experimental Cocktail Club's French bar in Shoreditch


On a recent brisk Tuesday evening we had the pleasure of test driving Joyeux Bordel cocktail bar. Joyeux Bordel translates in French to ‘happy mess’ and not ‘happy brothel’ as you may perhaps prefer to believe. We left feeling very happy, and thankfully not in a messy state.

Joyeux Bordel is the sixth bar from the legendary Experimental Cocktail Club. A dark door on Curtain Street, a few minutes walk from Shoreditch High Street Overground, conceals this cocktail den. Sidling past the doorman we traipse down into a cosy lair with small tables and a prominent bar. We opt for a small table and settle down to explore the menu, shrugging off the memories of a busy work day. Granted, it’s a Tuesday night and rather quiet but the General Manager, London born and bred Fabiano, tells us tales of the four deep line at the bar at the weekends. Reservations are welcome but not necessary.

And so begins our crash course in cocktails as we are led through the menu by the knowledgeable Fabiano. He is one of those hosts who immediately make you feel welcome but without being overwhelmed. If like us, you’re not quite au fait with the latest mixology tactics, here you’ll become acquainted with a fine range of cocktails with some intricate twists.

We start with the Bric-A-Brac, a combination of Chartreuse, elderflower cordial, pepper, sage, lemon and course some champagne. Why not, it is Tuesday. Fabiano seems somewhat slightly obsessed with Chartreuse, an aromatic green liquor made by Carthusian monks since 1737. The Saint Germain Des Prés follows swiftly with a little punch of spice that lingers on your tongue. The spice comes from bird’s eye chillies that are left to infuse and only one or two drops are added to this cocktail of gin, lime and cucumber. A heady combination that makes you think all is right with the world again. Also on offer are champagnes and sherries. Fabiano manages to twist our extremely rubber arms to try the vintage sherry on offer.


There is a short snacks list, and like most things in Joyeux Bordel, even the food carries a story of its own. Fabiano treks on his bike every Friday to transport charcuterie from Hill and Szrok butchers in Broadway Market. Laden down with parcels of saucisson he pedals rapidly back to service at Joyeux Bordel. A silky smooth burrata should come with a may-cause-addiction label. Supplied by an Italian geezer who comes once a week with an overcoat veiling, this mozzarella and cream delight.

For a couple of hours it’s easy to imagine you’re miles away from the hustle and bustle of East London and we’re keen to return on Wednesday where jazz dj Jean-Claude takes over.  We slip back out on the cold streets as the thought of work in the morning beckons, however where it not for an early start we’d happily loose ourselves in this cocktail hideaway.

Its clientele ranges from the young to late twenties, early thirties crowd but they welcome all ages. Fabiano’s mum recently spent a night there and according to her son loved it. If it’s good enough for Fabiano’s mum it’s good enough for me. Mais oui. 

Joyeux Bordel is at 147 Curtain Road, EC2A 3QE. For more, follow them on Twitter @ExperimentalCC

Hot Dinners were invited to Joyeux Bordel.