Let’s not mess around; London is the home of cocktail bars. So what if the term cocktail originated in US. Who cares if Americans have an insatiable appetite for cocktails; so do we! The dainty hand of a distinguished lady as she sips upon a Bellini. The manly tones of a tuxedo-wearing gent as his asks for his martini shaken, not stirred. These are memories of London and London is so overflowing with talented cocktail bars, we’ve taken it upon ourselves to narrow the search for you.
Looking for somewhere new? Looking for a hidden gem cocktail bar? Looking to find a cocktail bar in Soho that doesn’t swill Coca Cola with the nearest bottle of spirit and call it a cocktail? Your answer: this comprehensible guide to the best cocktail bars in Soho serving the best cocktails in Soho. Carnaby Street, Dean Street, Greek Street, Brewer Street, Old Compton Street: covered.
Image courtesy of Flickr user Konstantin
Experimental Cocktail Club China Town
West End / Bar /
Put down the cosmopolitan and step away from that mojito, because there's a whole world of cocktails out there! London's Experimental Cocktail Club - secretly nestled in the heart of the West End's Chinatown - is the place to head in order to expand your cocktail boundaries, with exciting concoctions on offer every night of the week. A low-key speakeasy, the Experimental Cocktail Club import from France has quirky decor, fantastic cocktails (obviously) and a wondrous 3am license. With more than a dash of its Parisian counterpart about it, the bar's black leather lounge sofas, exposed brickwork and low level lighting make the ECC a hip hangout.
Soho / Bar /
Muchos bucks were spent on this Soho bar just off Oxford Circus, but it paid off; it won London Bar of the Year at the London Lifestyle Awards. It's a simplistic walk-around bar with Japanese kimono decorative booths, but the best part is the small roof terrace, perfect for surveying the London skyline. During winter Aqua's mixologists have created liquid cashmere cocktails to warm frosty fingers, including a hot Kyoto Toddy. TRY: the champagne-lychee Rose & Li served with flowering rose buds.
Soho / Bar / Cuisine: Bar
Just a side step from Regent's Street and Piccadilly Circus is Soho's epicenter of gin. Graphic bar is big on gin - even has its own educational Monday Juniper Society - so cocktails are plentiful. The bar's name isn't a flash in the pan idea either because the artistic interior is refreshed every few months by another commissioned 'graphic' designer. Thursday-Saturday = more raucous. TRY: one of the bar's paint tin punch cocktails, especially 'Green', cuz it's got Henrick's gin in it, innit.
Bob Bob Ricard
Soho / Bar / Restaurant / Cuisine: English
Primarily an English restaurant, old Bob Bob offer cocktails that are similarly very English. Eschewing the temptation to push the 'Press for Champagne' button at the tables, I drifted downstairs, passed the Art Deco decadence of the restaurant, to the discreet all-booth Edwardian train-like sitting room, designed by David Collins - a man who only seems to design for Michelin starred restaurants (bars): The Wolseley, J. Sheekey, Claridge's Bar. TRY: BBR Pink Rhubarb Gin & Tonic.
Mark's Bar at Hix
Soho / Bar / Cuisine: British
Another basement cocktail bar in Soho with another cocktail legend at the helm. This time it's Nick Strangeway, the erstwhile World Mixologist/Bartender of the Year. Dim lighting, bar billiards table, room-length zinc bar; is this a New York cocktail bar? It's advisable to call ahead, many private parties take place here, it's that popular. TRY: Hix Fix (£11.75 !!) Mark's now infamous combination of Morello Cherries in Somerset Eau de Vie generously crowned with champagne.
LAB - Academy
Soho / Bar / Cuisine: Japanese
This London cocktail institution has a worryingly diverse range of spirits. The narrow street level and basement bars continue to be very popular, almost claustrophobically so (maybe because they offer some of the best cocktails in London), so elbows out and small talk at the ready. The house cocktails lean towards long fruity drink. TRY: the gone-in-a-flash Fireball shooter (Frozen Kummel, Goldschlager and absinthe). Ouch!
The Blind Pig
Soho / Bar /
Located on the first floor of Jason Atherton's new Michelin star restaurant, Social Eating House, the Blind Pig has a vintage twist with antique mirrored ceilings and reclaimed wooden chairs. The bar has a signature drinks menu created by mixologist Gareth Evans including the Thermonuclear daiquiri and Dill Or No Dill.
El Camion & The Pink Chihuahua
Soho / Bar / Restaurant / Cuisine: Mexican
A 3am license is a beautiful thing in Soho and what might appear to be a relaxed Mexican cantina obsessed with 80s retro is actually much more. The separate cocktail bar in the basement - Mexican restaurant upstairs - has a cocktail menu that's in keeping with the Mexican theme, heavily favouring tequila and rum. And, it's piloted by a living legend: Dick Bradsell, the man who invented the Bramble, the Russian Spring Punch and the Vodka Espresso. TRY: Only one possibly choice: the Margarita.
Soho / Bar / Cuisine: Bar
Proposed as the first ever Indian-themed cocktail bar in London, Zenna is an underground oasis for cocktail lovers situated in the centre of buzzing Soho. Located beneath the iconic Indian restaurant, The Red Fort, the entrance to Zenna is somewhat hidden. The atmosphere is seductive and intimate, due to the cocoon-like surroundings and low sexy lighting. DJs play a mixture of music from Thursday through to Saturday, turning the cave-like space into a secret basement nightclub. The cocktails are the stars of the show; Zenna's signature cocktail, The Illiana, is touted as the world's spiciest cocktail and is served with a gin-based 'fire extinguisher'.
Soho / Bar / Restaurant / Cuisine: Pizza
It's all about the right location and vibe when it comes to cocktail bars. B-Soho has it all, and it's packed out every night. It's split over 2 levels with the vibrant cocktail bar on the first floor and the simple yet effective pizzeria below. You can order pizzas on the ground floor too. Pizzas only take 90 seconds thanks to a fantastically hot, hand-built Neapolitan brick oven. There are 30 well designed signature cocktails to choose from and a well-chosen wine list. There's going to be live music performances and some very lively karaoke nights too.
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