Nairobi’s latest night out offering is exceptional in its range of drinks
The Macallan and Glenlivet distilleries, both known for their distinctive, superior quality single-malt whiskies, were founded in 1824 by Alexander Reid and George Smith respectively. But then every self-respecting whisky connoisseur knows this. What’s key is that this is the year that Nairobi’s current hotspot chose as its moniker, for obvious reasons.
1824: The Whiskey Bar is located in a bar-dense area – opposite the turn-off to The Carnivore on Lang’ata Road. With its popularity constantly growing and regular social media mentions, we paid a visit to see if it lived up to the hype.
On the outside, it looks more like a warehouse than a bar. You only get the bar feel when you make your way to the entrance and see the ‘MDCCCXXIV’ inscribed on the wall right above the door. This door opens into the ground floor section of the pub.
The bar has somewhat of a ‘grown-man’ vibe to it – the interior and décor is a mix of English country and art nouveau, with chocolate brown being the theme colour. The seating arrangement, featuring chocolate brown tub seats, is well thought out.
Not far from the entrance is a well-stocked wood and glass cigar display cabinet. In keeping with the theme, the ground floor area is the whiskey lover’s heaven, and the whiskeys they stock are generally mature.
The whisky display cabinet is on the left wall facing the entrance; it is what one would call ‘rich’ – there’s so much Scottish history in one place. These are drinks you wouldn’t easily come across in your average nightclub in Nairobi. Overall, décor-wise, the bar is simple and without many exaggerated details, and the emphasis is on the key selling point of this bar.
The upstairs section of the pub is where most of the fun is. It’s what one would describe as the ‘nightclub’ area of 1824. Besides the high wooden barrel tables and wooden bar chairs, the layered lighting creates the right atmosphere for dancing and socialising; the room is bathed in a flattering and sultry glow even without the sconces being on.
The upstairs bar is more detailed; the wooden finish gives it an industrial feel with a touch of urban. Here, the drinks on offer are a mixture, from Irish whisky to Scotch and beer. There is, of course, the mandatory whiskey selection, and the prices range Sh8, 000 to Sh130, 000 (yes, you read that right). That eye-watering price is for a ‘Johnnie Walker Odyssey’ bottle. You can also find the Yamazaki whiskey, which was voted the number one whiskey in the world, an 18-year-old Glenlivet, 18 and 20-year old Macallan bottles and other taste bud treats.
This particular afternoon, the upstairs bar was our playground, mostly because we wanted to sample their highly talked about meal – pork fry and ugali – which we had to wait 45 minutes for. This was disappointing as you’d expect world-class service from an establishment such as this. The waiters and waitresses, apart from taking a century to attend to orders, are decently dressed and come wearing smiles.
Bose speakers are mounted in each corner of the upper section of the club. For someone looking to catch a soccer match, a Formula 1 race, there are two 75” LED screens strategically mounted. The bar also offers an outdoor setting with drum and barrel modified bar tables and chairs.
The downside of 1824 – Whiskey Bar is the spacing; either the place is too small to fit in all the furniture and numbers they want, or it was intended to be ‘just enough’.
If you’re looking for a place to sample different types of whiskies, or to have a night out or even watch some soccer, then 1824 is the place for you – if you don’t mind being squashed close to the next table while you wait eons for your order.