Soho is one of London’s coolest drinking spots. It’s got it all – hush hush speakeasies serving decadent cocktails, bars in abandoned underground stations, there’s even a rooftop bar thrown in for good measure. Looking for the best bars in Soho? Don’t miss these brilliant drinking dens.
It’s no secret that Soho’s bars are banging. What was once one of London’s seediest spots has blossomed into one of it’s coolest areas for nightlife – and with that comes a healthy dose of great bars.
Now, Soho isn’t just about drinking – there are loads of things to do in this bustling area to keep you entertained… but Soho does do drinking ever so well.
Dudes, I’ve been drinking in Soho for a long time, but I almost bust my liver revisiting my favourite spots just to make sure that I was only recommending Soho’s absolute best bars.
Here are the ones that you shouldn’t miss.
If you only make time to visit one bar in Soho, make it Disrepute.
I should play coy and pretend that I don’t have favourites, but that just isn’t true. Disrepute is one of (if not the) best bars in Soho. Fact.
If there was ever a cocktail bar that embodied the phrase “retro chic”, it’s Disrepute. Think 1930s railway-carriage meets underground speakeasy with a touch of extra class and you are probably on the right track.
Yeah, it looks great. But what about the cocktails? In one word: excellent.
Choosing a cocktail is an experience in itself, as rather than your regular run-of-the-mill menu, there’s a little story to accompany each drink. Choosing based on which one captures your imagination is encouraged, although ingredients are listed on the back.
Although Disrepute is a relative newcomer, it’s built on the site of infamous Pinstripe Club – which served backdrop for an illicit affair between a certain politician and a young model, which eventually caused the downfall of a government.
Things aren’t likely to be quite so dramatic on your visit, thank God.
Technically, Disrepute is a member’s only club – but the public are allowed in. Book ahead to be sure. This is one Soho bar that you don’t want to miss.
Read More: Disrepute Soho Review
Mark’s Bar – Hix Soho
Legendary chef Mark Hix knows a thing or two about good food and good drink… so it’s no surprise that his bar Mark’s Bar serves some of the best cocktails in Soho.
Forget dry ice and drinks served in mason jars, Mark’s Bar has a tried and tested menu of classic cocktails that are prepared to perfection. They’re even better when enjoyed during happy hour (Tuesday to Saturday, until 7pm), when they’re just £7 each.
It’s best to arrive early, as they don’t take bookings and tend to get very busy.
Read More: Must-Visit Spots in Soho
Milk & Honey
Milk & Honey was a prohibition-themed bar before prohibition-themed bars were cool. The Soho bar has been serving up delicious cocktails in a 1930s-esque venue since way back in 2002.
There are three stylish levels, each one featuring rich mahogany and vintage leather, just as you’d expect from an exclusive speakeasy.
Although the bar operates as a members-only club, non-members are permitted until 11pm (as long as you book ahead), while members can keep the party going until 3am.
The drinks list is extensive, with more than 70 options on offer, including all the cocktail classics like Old Fashioneds and Moscow Mules.
La Bodega Negra
London might not have the sunshine, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a good old Mexican fiesta at La Bodega Negra, albeit with devilish Soho overtones.
Technically it calls itself a restaurant, and they do great food. However, the dimly lit atmosphere punctuated by suggestive neon signs is much more nightclub-esque than refined dinner.
The food is delicious though. There are classics like tacos, while more unique Mexican dishes are also scrumptious.
Likewise, the drinks menu is impressive with plenty of great cocktails — but you’ve got to try the delicious tequila and mezcal (kind of like tequila, but tastes less like bad decisions).
American Bar at Brasserie Zedel
Although it’s called the American Bar, this chic little hideout has the style of a Parisian brasserie and the soul of a classic Soho haunt. What’s not to love?
Plus, while the art deco interior is elegant and stylish, the atmosphere is welcoming and unpretentious. It’s opulent, without being gaudy.
Then there’s the amazing cocktail list, filled with choices like the scrumptious le donnet to ease you into the evening. As if that wasn’t enough to tempt you, the bartenders can even craft you up something unique.
I deliberated about whether to include Cahoots on the list of best bars in Soho as I personally don’t rate it that much… but even I can’t deny that visiting is an experience and a half.
Cahoots operates on one simple (and ever-present) premise – a chance to go back in time to a swinging retro bar in the 1940s. The bar is inside a former underground station turned air raid shelter that was used to hide Londoners away during the Blitz.
Themed to the max, everything is done (overdone?) to bring you to the world of Blitz-time Britain. It’s almost more theatre than bar.
In fact, you’ll probably enjoy your trip to Cahoots more if you think of it as a theatre rather than a bar. Like a theatre, you have to book your table way in advance, get there bang on time, wait around for ages to be served and only come out with a mediocre drink at the end of it. Unfortunately, you don’t get a thrilling show to distract you either.
Cocktails are served in all kinds of vessels – don’t be surprised if yours turns up in a bottle, or even an old statue – you have to be resourceful while the country is at war! Or it’s just yet another play on an overdone gimmick.
Trisha’s Bar – New Evaristo Club
It seems every weekend there are several new bars around Soho, while others shut their doors for good. Things come and go.
Not the New Evaristo Club, also known as Trisha’s Bar. It’s a true Soho stalwart – 75 years and counting. Most of them have had Trisha at the helm, and she’s quite the Soho icon in her own right.
The secret to this club’s longevity? I suspect the friendliness factor has got something to do with it – it’s one of the most approachable “member’s only” clubs in London.
It may not be the fanciest bar out there, and the drinks mightn’t be the best in Soho, but sometimes all you really want is a big smile and to be greeted like a local.
There are a number of wine bars in Soho but I particularly love the simple approach of Antidote.
Far from stuffy or pretentious, it serves an interesting list of wines from its breezy and friendly cafe/bar. It also does fresh and simple French-inspired meals.
As for the wine, there’s an emphasis on organic, biodynamic wine as well as promoting newer producers who are shaking up the industry. This makes it a great place to go and discover something new.
There’s even a wine shop so you can leave with a few bottles for later if you find a new favourite!
Why not pop to Bob Bob Ricard for dinner? Read my full review.
The Vault Beneath Milroy’s
Step through the bookcase and find yourself in a hidden, underground bar that is so good you’ll want to keep the secret.
Exposed brick and wooden bunkers give the Vault a gritty industrial edge, while friendly service adds some much-appreciated warmth.
There’s a great cocktail list with some inventive names, but the whiskey selection is where the Vault really shines. It’s under a scotch store, after all, so it’s only fitting really.
You certainly don’t need to be a whiskey snob to enjoy it, though, as it’s perfect if you’re just looking for a nice bar in Soho.
Read Next: Cool Gin Drinking Spots in London
The Blind Pig
In true speakeasy fashion, The Blind Pig isn’t easy to find, but once you do, you’ll be treated to one of the best places to drink in Soho.
While the decor is luxurious with leather and deep hardwood, the cocktail menu is positively adorable. Most of the cocktails are inspired by classic children’s books, like the Winnie the Pooh inspired ‘Hunny Pot’.
It’s not cheap but it’s not outrageous, and it’s the kind of place where you can sit and sip your cocktail slowly, taking in the vibes.
It’s best to call and make a booking beforehand, although the staff do their very best to find room for walk-ins.
Read More: Drinking at The Blind Pig – The Full Review
Mixology legend Tony Conigliaro is the powerhouse behind the popular Soho cocktail bar Bar Termini.
This quirky and approachable venue deserves its place amongst the coolest of the cool bars in Soho. Seating just 25, the bar/cafe takes its coffee and cocktails equally seriously.
Like the capacity, the number of choices on the menu is modest, but that allows Bar Termini to focus on exceptional quality drinks – of both the hot and cold variety. There’s also a small selection of sharing platters.
Bookings are recommended, as it doesn’t take long for all the seats to vanish.
Swift takes its inspiration from the relaxed bars on the continent – offering a comfortable and chic spot for you to sip on excellent cocktails throughout the night.
There are two floors – the light and airy ground floor and the slightly more formal downstairs speakeasy.
Whichever you opt to drink in, the bar has a friendly, approachable vibe that’s as much local pub as a high-class cocktail bar. Just with really, really good drinks and a rather beautiful interior.
So whether you stop by for a quick tipple or settle in to sample the drinks and (mouthwatering) food menu, Swift is a great choice for a nice bar in Soho.
Music, dessert and cocktails – it’s a match made in heaven. To be honest, I’m surprised it took as long as it did for Sate to hit the scene in Soho.
Sate is not a cocktail bar that serves a few desserts. Half its quirky menu is devoted to the sweeter things in life, from classic carrot cakes to decadent chocolate cigars (not smokeable, unfortunately!)
Each has a recommended cocktail pairing, while there are also a few savoury dishes if you want to skip the sugar overload.
Sate is the brainchild of two friends, and the atmosphere is welcoming. A great place to satiate that sweet tooth!
Experimental Cocktail Club
I’d recommend giving yourself a minimum of ten minutes to find this place; it’s very tucked away in the midst of Chinatown.
The Experimental Cocktail Club is worth any confusion you might run into finding it. This three-floored bar is bigger than it first appears, yet still manages to have a cosy Speakeasy vibe.
The real standout – as you might expect from the name – are the amazing cocktails. Give the bartenders carte blanche or pick something from the menu, such as a Negroni made from genuine 1970s Campari.
Reservations are only by email so if you definitely want a table, make sure to plan in advance. If you’re looking for Soho bars open late, this is a good choice, as it tends to stay open late, even on weekdays.
Read More: Experimental Cocktail Club Chinatown Review
There’s no shortage of quirky Soho bars with a backstory, but Jack Solomon’s is one of the best.
The bar is named after Soho’s most famous boxing promoter, who arranged plenty of bouts beginning in 1930. He also ran his own boxing gym, but his first gym was destroyed during World War II.
As a result, he moved premises to 41 Great Windmill Street. What used to house up-and-coming boxers now houses Londoners more keen for a delicious cocktail than slogging it out in the ring.
It’s a great story and the bar does it justice, too. There’s a great cocktail list and the decor is stylish retro – don’t miss out on experiencing this cool bar in Soho.
The Compton Cross
I’d be lying if I didn’t say I – like many Londoners – was a tad nervous to hear that legendary LGBT+ venue Molly Mogg’s was being restyled as the Compton Cross.
Luckily, the renovation has dialled up the style and comfort while keeping true to the original spirit. The result is it’s still one of the best gay bars in Soho.
There’s a greater focus on cocktails, now, with a number made from house-infused spirits. They’re particularly tasty when they’re 2-4-1 during happy hour.
While the cocktails are great, the highlight of the Compton Cross is still the free cabaret shows run regularly.
Read Next: Cool Soho Pubs for a Cheeky Pint
It seems cocktails taste better at altitude – or maybe it’s just the amazing views. Whatever it is, everyone loves a good rooftop bar in Soho, and you won’t be disappointed at Aqua Spirit.
It’s the Soho offering of an exclusive worldwide chain, so it’s certainly a sleek operation with beautiful views and an impeccable cocktail list that’s heavily inspired by Japanese flavours.
There’s also an inside bar, that’s a little moodier and perfect for escaping those chilly nights, yet still catching glimpses of the gorgeous London skyline.
It’s a luxurious option with a price tag to match – but the views certainly don’t come cheap.
Arts Theatre Club
There are plenty of prohibition-themed bars near Soho, but few have the chops to back it up like the Arts Theatre Club.
Infamously, the venue was once owned by the Kray twins, a pair of London gangsters who were eventually locked away for life for crimes including arson, racketeering and murder.
Despite their very, very dodgy dealings, they still rubbed shoulders with plenty of stars such as Judy Garland and Frank Sinatra. Sometimes at the Arts Theatre Club.
Today it’s a private member’s club (£100 per year) that’s more glamour than gore – the flowery teapots certainly seem at odds with the wicked reputation. Nonetheless, it’s a vibrant and intriguing place to enjoy a delicious cocktail.
Practical Tips for Visiting The Best Bars in Soho
- Many bars describe themselves as members only however most allow walk-ins from the public. If you’re a local, membership can be cost-effective – so you might want to check it out.
- You might be surprised at how early a lot of the bars around Soho start to close up –
1amis common, especially through the week. That said, some are known to party on if you’re not ready for bed.
- Many bars will add on a service charge of about 12.5% to your bill – keep an eye out in the fine print. Tipping beyond that is not expected, although always gratefully received.
- Check out the dress code before you go. Many of the fancier bars have stricter dress codes.
Cool Soho London Bars: Map
Looking for More Soho Guides?
Check these out…