London’s naughty corner has been making a name for itself in the restaurant department, and the bars have followed. From speakeasies to classic pubs, Soho has it all – except, perhaps, a subterranean, Blitz-era drinking den serving cocktails in an old underground carriage.
Oh, no wait – it totally has one of those, too.
So here, in no particular order, is our pick of the best Soho bars. Off we go…
Flagrantly defying the rules of nominative determinism, Disrepute has garnered nothing but praise since opening in late 2016. Taking over the cloistered, underground site of The Pinstripe Club (where the Profumo Affair all began), they’ve played homage to its history with unspeakably glamorous 60s-inspired interiors and a menu written entirely in short stories. The cocktails are sophisticated and exotic, the details pitch-perfect, and every table feels like the perfect date spot… READ MORE
Details: Open Mon-Sat 5pm-3am, Sun 5pm-1am | 4 Kingly Court, W1B 5PW | £££
The London Gin Club
Sure, there are a lot of gin-focussed bars in London these days. But The London Gin Club is no juniper nipper – it started off as a passion project of the bar it’s technically housed in, The Star, before taking over completely. Make sure you book ahead, because the place is packed every evening with merrymakers tucking into G&Ts, cocktails and their hugely popular tasting menus, complete with notes and frequent appearances from unknown and independent distilleries.
Details: Open Tues-Fri 4pm-11pm, Sat 1pm-11pm | 22 Great Chapel Street, W1F 8FR | £££
The Blind Pig
You’ll discover this Poland Street bar in one of two ways:
1) By venturing into the discreet porch marked by the old spectacle-shaped opthalmologist’s sign, rapping tentatively with the door knocker aptly moulded to the shape of a blindfolded pig, and waiting with baited breath to be let inside…
2) The old fashioned way, via the staircase, after eating at the Social Eating House.
However you get there, you’ll be glad you did – with its antique mirrored ceilings, wood-panelled walls and copper-topped bar, The Blind Pig is subtly shiny, atmospheric and intimate, even for large groups. Cocktails are tongue-in-cheek, like the Dill or No Dill and the Kindergarten Cup (made with Wham bar syrup), and are among some of the best you can get in London. You’ll also find bar snacks ranging from chorizo dogs to pumpkin latte and rum jelly sundae, alongside what can only really be described as a full-on steak. READ MORE
Details: Open Mon-Sat, 3pm-12am | 58 Poland Street, W1F 7NR | ££
The Blue Posts
The Blue Posts has been a Soho fixture for 275 years and counting – and it looks like it’ll be around a lot longer now that its been taken over by the siblings behind one of London’s greatest restaurants, The Palomar. Needless to say the bar snacks here are pretty damn good, but the drink’s got plenty going for it too – sip tap brews and carefully picked wines in the ground-floor pub, or head upstairs to The Mulwray for more sophisticated, date-worthy tipples. READ MORE
Details: TBP are open M&T 4-11pm, W&Th 12-11.30pm, Fri & Sat 12-12, Sun 12.30-9pm. The Mulwray is open T&W 6-11pm, Th 5-11.30pm and Fri/Sat 5-midnight | 28 Rupert Street, W1D 6DJ | £££
Perfectly at home alongside the long-standing Italian restaurants of Old Compton Street is the compact Bar Termini. By day, it’s an efficient espresso bar; by night, it serves a short and sweet list of reasonably priced cocktails from 69 Colebrooke Row’s Tony Conigliaro. They’re knocking up four types of house negroni alongside a few classics and the occasional curveball characteristic of Mr. C (the Terroir contains distillates of flint, clay and lichen). There’s an equally concise food list offering charcuterie, carpaccio and a cheeseboard for pre-dinner grazing – just make sure you book one of their 25 seats (it’s table service only) before the place gets as busy as its station namesake. READ MORE
Details: Open 10am-11.30pm Mon-Thurs, 10am-1am Fri & Sat and 11am-10.30pm Sun | 7 Old Compton Street, W1D 5JE | £
The Vault beneath Milroy’s
For a good drink in Soho, sometimes you need to look beyond. Specifically, in this instance, beyond a bookcase – because at the back of this esteemed whisky shop, there’s a hidden door that leads to a woody, subterranean speako serving up all manner of thirst-quenchers. Listings change every couple of months to keep things fresh, but expect relentlessly adventurous offerings like the ‘Pickled Strawberry’, with Champagne, sherry, and pickled green strawbs. And being under a whiskey shop, it would be nothing short of blasphemous to have anything less than a separate list of whisky cocktails, organised by provenance, and inventively mixed with more bitters and vermouths than you can shake a cocktail stick at. So that’s exactly what they’ve done. READ MORE
Details: Open Mon-Sat until midnight (11pm on Monday) | Through the bookcase at Milroy’s, 3 Greek Street, W1D 4NX | ££
Bar Américain at Brasserie Zédel
Nestled in the opulent 30s underground complex that is Brasserie Zédel, Bar Américain is an art deco dream of a date spot. Lavishly appointed with velvet bar stools, a cocoa colour scheme and retro lighting, it’s tempting to spend all night working through old-school cocktail list with drinks like the Chrysler Cocktail, made with port, Chambord, Campari, curacao, cognac and probably just about any other liqueur beginning with C that you can think of. READ MORE
Details: Open Mon-Wed 4.30pm-midnight, Thurs-Fri 4.30pm-1am, Sat 1pm-1am, Sun 4.30-11pm | Brasserie Zédel, 20 Sherwood Street, W1F 7ED | £££
Swift’s opening was essentially the royal wedding of the cocktail world, having been put together by Nightjar’s Edmund Weil and Rosie Stimpson and Milk & Honey’s Bobby Hiddleston and Mia Johansson. Whether you’re necking martinis and oysters at the glossy ground floor power bar or enjoying a leisurely selection from their whiskey library in the snug downstairs, you’ll be in more than capable hands. READ MORE
Details: Open daily 3pm-midnight (10.30pm Sun) | 12 Old Compton Street, W1D 4TQ | ££
The French House
The French House.
A true Soho institution, this cosy pub has counted Dylan Thomas and Francis Bacon amongst its regulars over the years – and the place retains a pleasantly old Soho feel thanks to its no-tech rule. Instead, you’ll somehow have to amuse yourself with live music, a huge spread of beers and ciders on tap, delicious food by Neil Borthwick, and the thirty wines and champagnes available by the glass. We’re sure you’ll think of something. READ MORE
Details: Open 12-11pm Mon-Sat and 12-10.30pm Sun | 49 Dean Street, W1D 5BG | ££
Signs that you’re in Cahoots: you’ve been greeted by a ticket inspector, checked your coats in a ticket hall, listened to 1940s PSAs in the toilets and are now enjoying a ringside view of live swing music from your retro train carriage. The underground, Underground-themed bar has one of the most coherently and impressively executed themes in London, with bartenders dressed in 40s gear and a cocktail menu printed as a (huge) newspaper. This place has got Blitz spirit in droves, and they’re serving it up in hip flasks, thimbles and their unusual ‘Dig for Victory’ themed cocktails, mixed with peas and potatoes. READ MORE
Details: Open Mon-Wed 5pm-1am, Thurs 4pm-2am, Fri 4pm-3am, Sat 1pm-3am and Sun 3pm-midnight | 13 Kingly Court, W1B 5PG | £££
For too long, main courses have been getting between the best parts of an evening: cocktails and dessert. This Soho bar has finally united them – and by cutting out the middleman, they’ve had a lot more time to focus on the two. The result? Dishes like ice cream tempura and triple chocolate mirror cake, and a list of original cocktails like the Jessica Rabbit, which combines gin, carrot juice and golden and elderflower syrup. There’s also a comprehensive selection of wines and European beers to boot. Sorry mains.
Looks like it’s just deserts. READ MORE
Details: Open 6pm-1.30am Tues-Sat, 6pm-midnight Sun-Mon | 8 Broadwick Street, W1F 8HN | £££
Jack Solomons Club
This suave, late-night bar can be found in the former gym space of legendary boxing promoter Jack Solomons – and it’s still a great spot for some punch. Spotting it takes a bit of confidence – you’ll head downstairs past a glass-walled butchers before reaching the bar, but follow the melodious strains of live music at the bottom, and you’ll soon stumble upon a subterranean den filled with Chesterfields, intimate nooks and Scotch-leaning cocktails… READ MORE
Details: Open Weds-Sat, 6pm-1am | 41 Windmill Street, W1D 7NB | £££
Experimental Cocktail Club
Once upon a time, the only way to find this place was by scrutinising the doors next to each Chinese restaurant to find the one with just the right amount of grey paint scratched away at its centre…
Nowadays, you’ll recognise it as the place with a mile-long queue out the front. Make a reservation in advance, however, and you can sail past, safe in the knowledge that you’ll soon be tucked away in a sophisticated 3 floor cocktail lounge that’s not just one of the best bars in Soho, but probably London too. READ MORE
Details: Open 6pm-3am daily (till midnight on Sun) | 13a Gerrard Street, W1D 5PS | £££
Next time someone threatens to take you down, all the way down to Chinatown – then get excited because there’s a small chance they just mean they’re about to treat you to a drink at Opium.
An unmarked jade door (across from ECC’s unmarked grey door) makes for a deceptively understated entrance to the bar decked out with colourful 20s Chinese touches. The menu spans from twisted classics like the Coffee Boulevardier to original concoctions like the umami martini, made with umami spirit, Cocchi Americano, black truffle oil and caper berries. An added bonus comes in the form of dim sum platters, served till almost 2am on Fridays and Saturdays. READ MORE
Details: Open Mon-Tues 5pm-1am, Wed-Sat 5pm-1.45am and Sun 5-9.45pm | 15-16 Gerrard Street, W1D 6JE | £££
The Pink Chihuahua
The Pink Chihuahua is actually something of a chameleon. Early in the evening its intimate candlelit booths make a good spot for sharing Mexican bar food (courtesy of upstairs restaurant El Camion), but as the night wears on and the bar’s collection of rum, mezcal and over 300 tequilas starts to take effect, expect bar stools to be pushed back and an impromptu dance-floor to take over… READ MORE
Details: Open Mon-Sat 6pm-3am | 25-27 Brewer Street, W1F 0RR | ££
Last Updated: 2nd October 2020 | Main image: Disrepute
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