Nothing gives us the shivers quite like being tasked to find a bar in London for drinks with colleagues and friends. Not only is there the pressure of finding a bar that serves seriously delicious cocktails and wine, but a spot where the interiors are luxe, the snacks are lip-smacking and the lighting screams ‘chic’ rather than cheesy.
Fortunately, the energetic, lively and fun-filled streets of Soho are a must when visiting or living in London. From Sussex Snack Bar, which serves dry martinis and a delicious dish of mushroom marmite éclairs, to the1940s post-war themed hub that is Cahoots, Soho bars offers fun, frivolity and fabulous drinks.
Here are our tried and tested, round-up of the best bars in Soho, London:
Sussex Snack Bar
Sussex is one of the best bars and restaurants to have hit Soho in recent years, thanks to Chef Director, Oliver Gladwin’s love of local and wild British ingredients and the Gladwin brothers’ country origins. Whether you’re in the mood for a dry martini, gin and tonic, British negroni or glass of sparkling Nutty Vintage straight from Sussex, you’re in luck. We suggest you accompany your tipple with a plate of the roast shallot dip and caraway crisp bread, mushroom marmite éclair (yes, really), and the smoked mackerel cornetto, served with a dollop of caviar on top. Sussex is cool, unpretentious and serving up some seriously delicious bar snacks and drinks. It’s a must visit.
Find Sussex Snack Bar at 63-64 Frith Street, London, W1D 3JW
5) Golden Gai, Soho
New to D’Arblay Street since December 2020, just before the second lockdown, is Golden Gai, an Italian-Japanese fusion restaurant (from the same team as Dalston’s Angelina). With delicious Japanese twists on cocktails, and Italian flatbreads featuring ingredients like chicken katsu, this is one venue to head to asap.
On Wednesday evenings, Golden Gai hosts a ‘drag and wine’ evening where a drag queen performs and hosts a wine-tasting session of a sparkling, white and red Italian wine. All while we sit outside (until May 17) and bask in the glory of Soho.
Find Golden Gai at 16A D’Arblay Street, Soho.
Hidden underground in Carnaby Street’s Kingly Court (it is a disused train station, after all) is Cahoots. The drinking den, it literally does feel like a den or bunker, is 1940s post-war themed and mapped out like a train carriage. Food is labelled as ‘rations’ on the menu and served in metal tin trays. For the history loving drinkers, the venue was actually used as an emergency air raid shelter during World War Two.
The cocktail offering is extensive and there’s even a curated list inspired by wartime and post-war icons including the Winston Churchill (featuring Scotch whiskey), Ginger Rogers (a gin and orange combination) and the Judy Garland (a gin-based drink topped with a classier offering of Moët & Chandon).
Find Cahoots at 13 Kingly Court, Soho.
Located under Soho’s bustling Broadwick Street via a red door – with a sign that specifies it is not, in fact, a brothel – is late night bar Basement Sate.
Open from 6pm, you can find an extensive cocktail menu and dedicated gin and tonic list with gins, mixers and garnishes paired by the experts.
As well as the bar snacks menu featuring mushroom arancini and baked camembert, Basement Sate are also known for their desserts like smores, cheesecake and more. Our tip is to head there after an evening meal at a great London restaurant – where you’ve specifically saved just enough room – for a post-dinner cocktail and dessert.
Find Basement Sate at 8 Broadwick Street, London.
Interiors lovers will be drawn to Aegean-inspired bar and restaurant Hovarda as soon as they catch a glimpse of its mosaic tables, plush green velvet sofas and metal side tables. (Side note: The toilets are also some of the most intriguing we’ve seen in London).
Food is Greek and Turkish (the Saganaki is a must) and the cocktails are one-of-a-kind, concocted with unique liqueurs. For party people, Hovarda also hosts house music nights at the weekend.
Find Hovarda at 36-40 Rupert Street.
This venue has pretty much got what it says on the tin: six floors in a space by Soho Square. However, each floor is marvellously different with the first floor mainly used for after-work drinks. The second can be for drinks and small plates like black truffle, bacon and cheese fries, or crispy fried aubergine with a madras dip combination (plus a brilliant weekend bottomless brunch). Many of the other floors, which we’ll point out are all elegantly decorated, are available for hire.
Find Six Storeys at 11 Soho Square, London.
On a narrow side-street, and down some vertiginous stairs, hides the windowless Disrepute bar. The member’s club features Art Deco decor with velvet seating and near-mirrored tables begging for one of the bar’s original cocktails – each with their own unique glass – to be perched on it.
The drinks themselves each come with an intriguing back-story, and you are encouraged to chose your poison: be it the Feline Fugitive or The Adversary based on its written blurb and not its ingredients. Though, if the choice is too much for you, the attentive bar tenders have no problem serving up the classics off-menu.
Find Disrepute at 4 Kingly Court, London.
Standing outside the Aqua restaurant group (home to Kyoto and Neuvo), there’s definitely no indication that the venue has a bustling rooftop bar complete with a terrace smack bang in the centre of Soho.
Unsurprisingly, the outside part of Aqua Spirit is perfect for summer evenings and weekend daytime drinks. Booking is advised.
Find Aqua Spirit at 30 Argyll Street, London.
The Piano Works West End
If live music is your vibe then The Piano Works’ West End venue is a must-visit.
Book a table and on that table you’ll find song request forms, so that what the live band sings is in the crowd’s control. The musicians are brilliant: they’ll play everything from Stevie Wonder to Dua Lipa, the cocktails are fun and the snacks are pretty good too.
Find The Piano Works at 47 Whitcomb Street, London.
Newly-opened bar Heritage is Swiss-inspired. That means raclette, fondue and great wine (a 200-strong list to be precise). The cocktails are also super creative and tasty, with nice touches like personalised garnishes added to the mix.
There’s a central round bar in the middle making it ideal for drinks in its own right (as well as the wider restaurant for a dinner venue). Plus, it’s open late until 1am Thursday-Saturday.
Find Heritage at 18-20 Rupert Street, London.
Part of the Soho House group is Kettner’s, which allows non-members. Also a hotel, the Georgian townhouse features a Champagne bar complete with 1920s style Art Noveau interiors, an extensive Champagne and sparkling wine list and dreamy bar snacks like mini sausage rolls and gruyère gougeres.
Remember, there’s a no picture rule, and booking is advised.
Find Kettner’s at 29 Romilly Street, London.