City Road bar raided for selling illegal whale skin cocktail
An award-winning bar was raided by the police after it emerged that it was serving an illegal whale skin cocktail.
The Nightjar in City Road, Hoxton, recently named third best bar in the world by magazine Drinks International, was stormed by the Metropolitan Police Wildlife Unit on December 3 following a tip off.
The bar, which also won the prestigious Class Award for the Best New Bar in 2011 and features on Time Out’s 101 best things to do in London, was offering a drink called Moby Dick on its menu which contained a “whale skin infusion” derived from a strip of dried whale skin soaked in whisky.
The ingredient was purchased by an employee of the bar in a supermarket in Japan last year.
Sale of whale meat and other products is banned in Europe, except under strict conditions in Greenland and Denmark.
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Director of Nightjar Edmund Weil said: “Before the police visit, we were not aware that the use of this ingredient was unlawful.
“We unwisely assumed that since it was obtained lawfully in its country of origin, we were not contravening any laws.
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“In hindsight having this cocktail on our menu – regardless of the legal framework around such products or the quantity used – was a grave error in judgment. We would therefore like to apologise wholeheartedly to anybody who may have been offended by it.
“We genuinely feel ashamed about our lack of due diligence around this and our insensitivity to public opinion.”
The bar was co-founded by Mr Weil, a former teacher, with university friend Roisin Stimpson, and quickly established itself as one of London’s top nightlife spots. It features a decadent Art-Deco inspired interior, with a drinks list that contains several esoteric ingredients such as desalinated deep ocean water, ostrich egg Advocaat, absinthe smoke, and dry ice.
Spokesman for the Met Police said:” We received an allegation in October 2012 that whale skin was being sold at a premise in City Road. One item from the premises was seized. This has been sent for analysis.”
No arrests have been made at the Nightjar, and the cocktail has been removed from the menu.
The management said that they will donate all proceeds from the drink’s sales to a whale conservation charity.