So many Soho bars, so little time.
The beating heart of Central London, Soho boasts a legendary reputation and a whole host of celebrity admirers. Drop the ‘celebrity’ from that, and you get how we feel. For the best places to drink in style, we’ve put together a little guide to the best Soho bars, to get you in the know. Oh, and for definition’s sake, all these Soho bars fall within the area bounded by Oxford Street, Regent Street, Shaftesbury Avenue, and Charing Cross Road. Cheers!
Named after the famed London boxer and promoter, and situated on the site of his old gym, Jack Solomon’s is quite the hit. A punchy cocktail list is the star attraction, with drinks like Kid Mears and Coffee & Cigarettes catching the eye. Find out more here.
41 Great Windmill Street, W1D 7NB.
2. The O Bar
A kitschy Soho institute known for their ludicrously long happy hours (until 8pm every night), this place boasts a long cocktail list and a suave VIP lounge.
83-85 Wardour Street, W1D 6QE.
Once the site of notorious celebrity watering hole, The Pinstripe Club, this bar has had a fancy facelift without sacrificing its character. In lieu of ingredients, the cocktail menu weaves literary tales about each libation, and membership options are available if you really love it.
4 Kingly Street, W1B 5PW.
There’s one unique, and potentially hugely offputting, USP at Garlic & Shots. Everything on the menu – and I do mean everything – has garlic involved in some way. Beers, cocktails, coffee, and even a handful of their 101 shots features the stuff. Don’t bring your vampire pals to this dive bar…
14 Frith Street, W1D 4RD
5. Tea Room
For neon-lit, Shanghai noir vibes, head down to the basement of bao bakery Bun House to find the Tea Room. A restaurant/cocktail bar hybrid, the drinks are heavily influenced by China, resulting in excellent creations such as Peanut & Goji Berry and the Mint & Sichuan Sour. Find out more here.
23 Greek Street, W1D 4DZ.
6. Milk & Honey
Famed throughout London and New York (although the NYC branch is currently homeless), this storied bar has won numerous accolades since opening in 2002. We’ve got our sights set on a Naked & Famous – a potent blend of mezcal, Aperol, and yellow chartreuse.
61 Poland Street, W1F 7NU.
Tucked away above Michelin star-winning restaurant Social Eating House is the cosy, low-lit Blind Pig. From a cocktail menu inspired by children’s books, you’ll find some utterly charming creations, including the Tumnus Tipple Delight, and a Tolkien-inspired Shire Brew that has my name written all over it…
58 Poland Street, W1F 7NR.
Things get experimental at The Compton Cross, where the liquors are handmade and then infused with all kinds of inventive flavours. Be sure to visit Monday-Thursday between 8-10pm, or weekends between 12-6pm, as the cocktails are all two-for-one.
2 Old Compton Street, W1D 4TA.
9. The Vault
If you’re a fan of bars with secret entrances, you’re going to love this one. The Vault is hidden behind a bookcase in whisky trader Milroys, and the prize for getting in is a comfy speakeasy with a spiffing cocktail menu.
3 Greek Street, W1D 4NX.
10. Basement Sate
Choosing between cocktails and desserts is a thing of the past at the sweetest of Soho bars, where you can pair your drinks to a decadent dessert. It’s a place where a banoffee pie might come with a bourbon and honey concoction, and diets don’t exist. Intrigued? Get the full picture here.
What do you call a 300-strong gin lineup? Graphic call it a “world class gin collection”, and we certainly aren’t going to disagree with them. When visiting, marvel at their range of colourful Paint Tin Punches, and the bar’s strong art game.
4 Golden Square, W1F 9HT.
12. 68 & Boston
Two bars for the price of one here. On the ground floor, you’ll find 68, a wine bar with an extensive list of tipples. Meanwhile, 1920’s style cocktail bar Boston sits upstairs, offering up unique serves. The indecisive amongst you can bounce from one to t’other during the course of your evening.
5 Greek Street, W1D 4DD.
13. Six Storeys
If you’ve got the money, you can hire out all six storeys and drink on each of them. For the cash-strapped amongst us, The Lobby Bar will have to suffice, with a huge range of Martinis and Old Fashioneds to keep you happy.
11 Soho Square, W1D 3QE.
14. Bar Termini
Inspired by Rome’s Termini rail station, this bar will get you living la dolce vita, particularly if you dive into their exceptional negronis. Mind you, I wouldn’t turn down a Death in Venice if you offered me one…
7 Old Compton Street, W1D 5JE.
Forget all that stiff upper-lip piffle and head to Cahoots for a jolly old knees-up! A Blitz-themed bar where the clocks stopped in 1946, you can sip on a Vera Lynn inside their vintage Bakerloo carriage. Check it out here.
Kingly Court, 13 Kingly Street, W1B 5PG.
Another upstairs-downstairs affair amongst our cadre of Soho bars. Upstairs is light and airy, with a focus on clear and refined spirits, whilst downstairs is low-lit and wood panelled, with rum and whisky cocktails populating the menu. Head along, Swiftly.
12 Old Compton Street, W1D 4TQ.
Laidback, and always up for a party, Gem is just good fun. Cocktails and beer are the drinks of choice, and they’ve even got their own bookable games room, stocked with beer pong, foosball, and games consoles.
10 Beak Street, W1F 9RA.
18. Barrio Soho
Yes, it’s part of a chain, but we aren’t going to hold that against them. Particularly when the bar is colourful, bustling, and serving tropical-inspired cocktails to us.
6 Poland Street, W1F 8PS.
19. Simmons Soho
Again, they’re all over town, but cocktails are two for £10 during their ludicrous five-hour happy hour, so you won’t hear us complaining. Fans of neon, dodgy wallpaper, and skull-shaped disco balls are going to love it.
2 Bateman Street, W1D 4AE.
Rather than stumbling from the bar to your late-night food stop, you can stay at the bar and still refuel. Balans Soho Society serves food until 6am, so all your post-sesh needs are in-house. Except for a bed, of course. Read all about it here.
21. Mark’s Bar
Hiding underneath HIX Soho is this subterranean watering hole, where the focus is on being as awfully British as possible. This extends to seasonal British ingredients making appearances in their cocktails: asparagus, carrots, and rhubarb all feature.
66-70 Brewer Street, W1F 9UP.
22. Aqua Spirit
At the pricier end of the Soho bars spectrum, we find Aqua Spirit. You’re probably paying for the location, to be honest, since the rooftop terrace overlooks Regent Street – grab a drink and settle in for the sunset.
240 Regent Street, W1B 3BR.
23. Freedom Bar
A spiffy-looking place with a club on site, Freedom Bar is a place where the evening slips into the early hours of the morning all too easily. Careful on the dance poles if you’ve had a few drinks…
66 Wardour Street, W1F 0TA.
24. Bar Americain
Not to be confused with The Savoy’s American Bar, this one can be found inside Brasserie Zedel, the haven of Francophiles. Despite the French influence, this bar lives up to its name, with Art Deco interiors and Yankee inflections in the cocktails.
20 Sherwood Street, W1F 7ED.
25. Archer Street
Whilst the year-round cocktail bar is charming, Archer Street’s trump card is a seasonal bar, which alternates between alpine ski lodge in winter, and Barbadian beach shack come summer. A bar for all seasons, really.
3-4 Archer Street, W1D 7AP.
26. Gerry’s Club
You’ll need friends in high places or a nice disposable income to get in here, because like many Soho bars, this one is members only. However, if you do get inside, you’ve got a good chance of making some famous friends – it’s a notorious hangout for creative types.
52 Dean Street, W1D 5BJ.
They claim to be “Soho’s best kept secret”. We say “not anymore!” A Prohibition-style bar where you can order cocktails in teapots, this spot once hosted the Krays, amongst others. Luckily there’s no chance of running into them, but you’re advised to book in advance.
50 Frith Street, W1D 4SQ.
Don’t drink on an empty stomach: check out our Soho restaurants guide before diving into the cocktails!
Featured image: @disreputebar