Reverend JW Simpson

  • Bars and pubs
  • Cocktail bars
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©Rob Greig
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The Reverend JW Simpson is a curious name for a bar, but there’s some history here. Surely no building in London has gone from such piety to profanity. This basement space was, apparently, home to the titular vicar until the late 1980s; in more recent years, it was known as the Capricorn Club. The walls were painted red, and when it was raided by police in 2009, women of ‘various nationalities’ were questioned.

But any seediness is long gone. These days, it’s a low-key, dimly lit cocktail den from the people behind nearby Bourne & Hollingsworth. The walls have been stripped back and left largely as they were when the man of the cloth departed, so you’ll see woodchip, pastel tiles and Anaglypta. Very atmospheric, slightly eerie, but you get used to it.

And the drinks list is excellent – options are limited, but that’s fine when they’re all this good. Cocktails are beautifully served in antique-looking glassware by benevolent staff. Extensive sampling showed two clear winners: the prune manhattan, made with a fruit infusion, and the Port in a Storm (port, dark rum, ginger beer and lime). There’s no food menu, although we were brought a nice little bowl of nuts for free.

Thankfully, you won’t have to listen hymns or Christian rock; the music sticks to honky-tonk, blues and swamp rock. And the bar isn’t open on Sundays, so at least some sort of sabbath is observed.

Venue name: Reverend JW Simpson
Address: 32 Goodge Street
Opening hours: Open 5-11.30pm Tue-Thur; 5pm-midnight Fri, Sat.
Transport: Tube: Goodge Street tube
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Average User Rating

3.1 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:2
  • 4 star:3
  • 3 star:0
  • 2 star:0
  • 1 star:3
2 people listening

Firstly, I love that this place used to be a brothel. For some reason I find it intriguing - the characters that must haunt this amazing drinking venue are surely some of the most fascinating in London - the stories, while certainly disgusting, are probably hilarious. Apparently you still get a few 'ladies' coming down seeking work. And a few 'gentlemen' stumbling down the stairs looking for a bit of 'fun' for the evening. Lovely!

The decor is also interesting - because it's the original wall paper from when the reverend JW used to live here - so its scraggy, dated and yet modern and almost chic somehow. Maybe i've lived in London too long that this sort of stuff looks decadent!

The drinks menu is intriguing. The Pomegranate Haze is lovely and sweet, beautifully presented and well made, while the blue Clover is super pretty with a gorgeous citrus tang. They also make a mean Vesper Martini (we were heading to watch Spectre after our visit) and their Dirty Martini's are also pretty delicious, especially when made with Botanist Gin.

The staff are really helpful, happy to let us try the spirits before making our drinks, and the french hostess in particular was lovely and interesting to talk to, with a wicked sense of humour!

The free popcorn is also lovely and sweet. Shame we didn't take some with us for the cinema!


This place is cool! Small, intimate (maybe a little too intimate judging by one of the couples in there last night..) friendly, great cocktails and fun nights. I went along to take part in a whiskey tasting and cocktail shaking night which was great value and good fun! Loads of little features onthe cocktails like a box of rasins plus learning about different ways to make the cocktail and lastly - learning the type of face you make when you shake a cocktail... :-/ I've requested the video evidence is destroyed!

Go! Just don't look at the walls ;-)

Robert S

Looks OK if a bit cheap. Drinks sound good and atmosphere seems buzzing. But I couldn’t get in since it as full to capacity (it is very small). That would have been all fine and understandable had the message not been delivered rudely by an exceptionally arrogant bar manager. Fail. If you do want to try your luck here make sure you’ve booked. But for me there are too many good alternatives to bother going back.

amy c

Very bad waiter service including having champagne poured over our laps with no apology or refills.

Laura Sanchez

Me and me boyfriend found the place randomly, very atmospheric place nice and original drinks out of the typical coktail menu about Mojitos and caipirihnas, Lovely place and decoration . Amazing service and attention. I fell in love about the glasses. ^.^