If you’ve ever tumbled out of The Glory in London on a Friday night with an alcohol-induced carb craving, chances are you’ve wound up guzzling a ginormous, New York-style slice of pizza from Voodoo Rays, just north of Dalston Kingsland station.
However, this month the good guys at Voodoo Rays had the presence of mind to create a more chilled watering hole to enjoy your pizza with, and opened Ray’s Bar, nestled right underneath the main pizzeria, on November 3. Head down the stairs and your transported from the pandemonium of modern Dalston Road to a relatively peaceful, more romantic setting - although I hear it gets livelier later on.
A lot of places in Dalston can feel a little intimidating if you’re not achingly hip. Ray’s bar however, was incredibly welcoming, which, as someone who’s certifiably uncool, I appreciated. We were quickly sat in one of the booths, and the staff were super friendly - if a little too quick to try and take our orders at the start.
You can order a range of beers, wines and soft drinks, but the speciality here is cocktails, which are incredible. The menu splits into aperitifs, mains and desserts - plus the staff will happily create something off-menu for you too (My drinking buddy assured me the sidecar he was mixed was one of the best he’d ever tried). I kicked off with a Rio Cross - Havana 3 rum, pistachio, coconut and lime. It’s perfect if you don’t like a strong alcohol taste, or if, like me, you have a major sweet tooth. The cocktails come in at around £8 each, which is fair for the quality.
We ordered pizza before we got too drunk to fully appreciate it. If you want to order by the slice you have to go back upstairs, which we were too lazy to do, so we split a 22-inch pizza, which come in at £26 each. I thought that was a little expensive, until I saw the size of the bugger. You could happily split it between three, or go halvsies and take whatever you inevitably don’t finish home with you. We had one half topped with succulent and beautifully seasoned fennel sausage, and the other with goats cheese and courgettes, but they have a pretty wide range to pick from.
Back to drinks. My favourite of the night was the “Crazy Talk” - Olmeca Altos Reposado Tequila, Vermouth, Balsamic Vinegar, Orange Bitters and Agave. It looks like a cup of poison, but tastes incredible. It's slightly spiced and refreshing, with the tequila taking centre-stage, while the balsamic gives it slightly sweetened aftertaste, balancing out the bitters. Another highlight was the Spice World, a creamy, whisky-based cocktail with chai spices which made for a warming and indulgent drink without being sickly, even after all that pizza. My drinking buddy for the night assured me that the Tunnel Dancer (a tribute to the bar's former life as a music venue and club) was great for whiskey lovers - however it's usually only available after midnight.
Ray’s Bar would make a great first date spot. Cool, but unpretentious, friendly staff, and cocktails to savour, not binge drink. And with the staff constantly keeping your water glass full, you wake up the next morning with no hangover. Perfection.
Find Ray's Bar beneath Voodoo Ray's at 95 Kingsland High Street Dalston, London E8 2PB