Once upon a time, Soho was quite a seedy, wild, raucous place. Then, with every passing year, those rough edges were smoothed over. It became friendlier. More respectable.
And not everyone is happy about that.
Particularly the people behind the moodily rollicking, music-filled ‘Records’ bars dotted about the capital (specifically Shoreditch, Battersea, Clapham & Eastcheap), who have decided to try and claw back just a tiny fragment of the neighbourhood’s untamed hedonism with the appropriately named Louche.
You’ll find it in a three-story townhouse on Greek Street, which actually looks quite elegant… from the outside. Heading in, it quickly becomes a dark, boisterous haven complete with secluded alcoves, hidden peep shows, and wood panelled walls covered in pictures of Soho’s more colourful characters throughout its past. Among many others, you’ll find punk pioneer Philip Sallon, bebop jazz legend Horace Silver; and the strikingly chic Madame Louise – the owner of Soho’s first (openly) lesbian club.
But by far the most important interior detail? That would be the two stages. Downstairs, there are trios & quartets playing ’60s & ’70s rock & roll; jazz (the Purdy Trio have a regular billing); guilty pleasures; and occasional surprise burlesque and cabaret acts dotted throughout the month. Upstairs sees a slightly wider variety of acts, ranging from funk & soul, to spoken word, to burlesque, and a good ol’ piano bar. And when the stage is quiet? Expect vinyl-only DJs to fill the gap.
This being a bar, another relatively important feature is, well, the bar. It’s a beautiful stone affair, and behind it they’re shaking original cocktails like their Umamartini, which is quite a mouthful in more ways than one thanks to the gin, fino sherry, elderflower, and olive brine. Then there’s the Watermelon Mezcalita which pairs the smokiness of mezcal with the fruitiness of watermelon & lime (plus a rim of watermelon sugar – this is a music venue, after all); and the Lady Stanley, which is named for Soho’s own 19th century advocate for female higher education (and who hopefully liked vanilla vodka mixed with Chambord).
Plans are afoot to add a menu of light bar snacks to the equation, but nothing as substantial as a sit-down meal.
We wouldn’t want this place to become too respectable.
NOTE: Louche is open Monday-Saturday. You can find out more, and make a booking at their website right HERE.
Louche | 5 Greek St, W1D 4DD
Like drinking to in-person bands? Here are some great bars with live music…
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