Uninspiring, pretentious rubbish. Border line blandness across an array of insipid cocktails, zoo like speed dating seating and zero atmosphere. I hope I just happened to frequent on an off day but if the oh so secret door titivates you then rock up and tick it off your list. Try Hix Soho basement bar or The Blind Pig for a great cocktail experience.
Experimental Cocktail Club
Time Out rating:
Time Out says
Posted: Tue Aug 7 2012
As bar after bar opens using the rather tired ‘Brooklyn Prohibition’ template, Experimental Cocktail Club seems ever more original – it’s hard to find, sure, perhaps more so than any other ‘speakeasy’ in London, but inside remains opulent and elegantly aloof to trends. It’s arranged over three floors of an old Chinatown townhouse, flatteringly lit and expensively decorated. Booking isn’t essential (half of the capacity is kept back for walk-ins), but it is recommended and worth the hassle (email booking only, between noon and 5pm). Cocktails are among the best in town, accessibly priced and not too show-offy in terms of ingredient and preparation – ‘experimental’ isn’t perhaps accurate. However, they’re all sophisticated, complex, strong and persuasive; see, for example, the Havana (cigar-infused bourbon, marsala wine, Bruichladdich Octomore single malt ‘wash’). Immaculately attired bar staff are clearly knowledgeable about their subject, although floor staff could be friendlier and, when it gets busy, a bit sharper. A range of vintage spirits (1950s gin martini, £150) indulges those with money to flaunt, but in the main, and despite its initially daunting demeanour, ECC is just a great place for an evening of rarely surpassed cocktails.
Experimental Cocktail Club 13A Gerrard Street
- Venue phone:
020 7434 3559
- Venue website:
- Opening hours:
Open 6pm-3am Mon-Sat; 6pm-midnight Sun
Tube: Leicester Square tube
Admission £5 after 11pm
Experimental Cocktail Club
- 13A Gerrard Street
- 020 7434 3559
- 13A Gerrard Street
- Experimental Cocktail Club
Average User Rating
3 / 5
- 5 star:46
- 4 star:20
- 3 star:3
- 2 star:7
- 1 star:54
They pulled their nose up at me when i refused to pay service charge after having to wait nearly 40 mins for my drinks. - DISCRETIONARY YES? i will pay when i believe the service is good.
This is not somewhere to go with a large group or shallow pockets. Its perfect for a post theatre, end of week luxurious drink. if i want to have cheap cocktails and be loud with your friends then I go to be at one or somewhere else. ECC is a place to enjoy your drink and the one or two friends you have brought with you. I have been a number of times and the only trouble i had with the staff was with a new girl who was a little slow, part from that i like that it is strict at the door.
Terrible customer service! The doorman is extremely arrogant and the bar staff is not better. Very pretentious place but even cocktails were just OK. I mean if you were in different cocktail bars in Europe you have something to compare with. This bar will not offer you anything very special except high prices. The behaviour of staff will put all your experience down.
I would not recommend this place to anyone! Absolutely average in terms of its interior, too noisy and extremely rude staff. Cocktails were fine but seriously, nothing incredible. There are plenty of places in London where you can try the same quality cocktails but at least you will not have to face arrogant door man and a rude barman.
I arrived at ECC and the door man asked if we were on the reservation list, which I was not, he had a think about whether letting my boyfriend and myself in, and finally opened the door for us. We told him 2 more friends are joining us in 15 minutes. We ordered our cocktails and they were fabulous! whilst we were sat down, a couple left and so there were comfortable seats available. We asked a member of staff if we could move, to which she said it was reserved and within a few minutes new arrivals turned up and sat down, and they had definitely not reserved it. Finally, I got a call from my friend and the door man did not let them in. By this point, the first floor was approx 30% occupied, so there was plenty of room. Just felt disappointed by the staff service and ECC lost our business as we left straight away. Nice cocktails but the business model is certainly not focused around customer satisfaction. I would not recommend others to go here as it's a let down.
I stumbled on this place last night after searching Time Out for a cool place for a cocktail ... or 3. So glad I have found it and I would highly recommend it. A cool speakeasy vibe, incredibly freindly staff and delicious cocktails - the 'Old Cuban' was superb. Will definitely return again and again
I have been treated rudely in the past, but I have never been treated so rudely as I was treated last week. It was my flatmates birthday and she called and tried to reserve for a Monday night, but they said for parties larger than 4 we couldn't make a reservation, it was walk in only on a space available basis. The birthday girl and two friends were allowed in, but when me and my friend got there 20 minutes later we were told we were not allowed in because it's strictly a place for small groups. My flatmate had to change the location to O'Neils at the last minute to be able to celebrate with her friends. London has two many awesome bars for me to waste my time with rude and disrespectful door staff and management.
I used to frequent the Parisian Experimental club when I lived there, and really enjoyed myself every time I went. Yesterday was the second time that I went to London Club since I live in England and I think I will make this my standard venue. Just like in the Paris Club, I enjoy the calm, relaxing atmosphere, the DJs are good, and the cocktails really nice. I recommend going between 23h00 and 01h00, so after dinner and a few pubs – and before going out to dance. I saw that the bouncers get a lot of criticism in previous comments but I feel like they are a bit unfair. Both times when I went I saw people trying to argue their way in, being rather impolite to the point where I personally would become rude. But I have to say that I particularly enjoy the people you meet once your inside. People so far have been friendly and open communicators, without being pretentious or appearing superficial – that really makes for some enjoyable moments and lovely encounters. So I'm not quite sure what happened to those people who are complaining this much about the security – I can not second their view, I personally had nice chats with quite a few of them. Maybe though one piece of advice: do not plan to come in large groups, since your chances of getting in are quite small. As to the cocktails, if you like ginger, get an Old Cuban.
What a shambles and how not to run a business. I emailed ECC to tell them I was entertaining 14 business clients and that their bar had been highly recommended. I received a repky that they open at 6.00pm and thank you for showing my interest, it did say they do not accept large bookings at weekends. We travelled to the club on Wednesday at 6.00pm only to be turned away in the rudest manner ever experienced. The doorman informed me that I had never sent an email and we would not be allowed in without any explanation. I can assure everyone i did send two emails and received two responses. Please do not give them your business they do not deserve to take anyones money.........
I visited this place in October 2013 under a recommendation from a friend. The entrance to this place is easily missed, it is extremely non-descript and even as I was going up the stairs I was doubting if I had gone through the wrong door. Fortunately, I found myself in a swanky little bar with a buzzing atmosphere. The cocktails are without a doubt very delicious, priced at about 12 quid each and there is quite a good selection. The combinations may sound strange but trust me, they work!. The ambiance is great, with a nice buzz. There are different bars on two floors so be sure to check them both out. Seating space is limited so good luck finding a place to perch. My only critique would be the staff. I found them to be very arrogant and rude. Minimise the amount of interaction with them and you'll be fine!
Intriguing to find the location of this secret bar with a discreet entrance manned by a small Bouncer outside. However, the fun soon stopped there. Bar staff didnt offer to take my gf's coat, despite apparently a service available. Cocktail list was uninspired and unexperimental. Cocktails were highly average, and with service charge on top. Seating was not thought out well enough, the music was terrible, and I definitely won't be returning. I honestly dont even normally consider myself a harsh critic, but the ECC was a disappointment and not worthy of the 4* Timeout rating.
I found the Experimental Cocktail Club a while ago and have loved it ever since. It has some really great cocktails which change every few months. The atmosphere is cool and relaxed and you feel as if the bar is a secret only you know. The service is great - you even have your coat hung up for free and escorted to a table on arrival. The only negative would be that you often have to book well in advance if you want to go in on Friday/Saturday, sometimes you have to stand and it's a pricey night out.
Great fun place, but make sure you try to book before hand. Cocktails are definitely experimental so bring an open mind, a healthy thirst and plenty of cash!
Go in lightly with a pocketfull of cash. At the door your greeted with smiling staff, hidding in the heart of China town. Wear your best old fashioned clothes, called 'Vintage' in the modern style. Upon entering the lighting is golden and inviting for a sence of fun. Order your first drinks, the barperson delivers them with ease, they go down easily, too easily. Music fills your ears as the drinks fill your head, after a couple of hours the crunch time comes, with trepedation you ask for the bill! You dont need to be at a Halloween party or film to be scared, still it would be the same in an expensive hotel, it is worth the price as you woun't get the Hoi Polloi and any fights, people want to and have fun and the staff are lovely. I would recomend it for a strong cocktail or two to set your evening up!.
Pretty cool place hidden in the heart of Chinatown. Great cocktails and friendly staffs. THe prices are alright for cocktails. but make sure you look at the price of the drinks first, my friend almost ordered a £150 vintage martini. The staff was kind enough to come back and ask him if this was he really wanted. lol I like the way the place is decorated, prohibition era kinda way. The dj was funny and friendly.
Had such a great time here. Hadn't booked but they found a table for us, the waitress was friendly and helpful. Great atmosphere, great drinks. My cocktail was just perfect, one of the best I've ever had. Will be going back!
London is a great city, that's why people love to be there. London is where everything that is good comes from. That why people from other country's love London. I love London so much kisses for her.
Favourite bar in London.. Relaxed atmosphere and amazing cocktails! It can however be too busy at times, and not always easy to find a place to sit
You won't believe your eyes - once you've found the secret door, that is. This stylish and sophisticated bar is hidden deep inside Chinatown, secretly serving deliciously unusual cocktails in cut crystal glasses that you'll want to slip into your handbag.
I went here for a "quick" drink with a friend last week.The cocktails were amazing and the staff very attentitive.A quick drink turned very easily into a long and fun evening.
The initial excitement of visiting the Experimental Cocktail club stemmed from actually trying to find the place. You have to find a mysterious door way in Chinatown, and approach it hoping that you're not going somewhere you shouldn't. Thankfully, we were greeted by some friendly door-staff, although if you are in a big group it seems that booking is essential. We only managed to get upstairs because we thought the rest of our party were already inside, but in fact they weren't, and they got turned away at the door, even though the place didn't seem at capacity. Once inside we managed to find a small table to look over the menu. There are plenty of wonderful and unusual cocktails to choose from. The prices aren't cheap, but in comparison with other cocktail bars in the area, you probably get a better cocktail for your dollar. I wasn't sure what to have, so the barmaid made something to my taste - a skill I think is a must for any cocktail bar staff (perhaps because I'm so indecisive.) The toilets were decorated in a kooky fashion - teapots hung from the ceiling as lampshades. All in all, it was a nice place to drink, but in future I would rather go there with friends. As a couple, there wasn't really any intimate, quiet parts to socialise. We went on a saturday night so perhaps in the week it would be better.
Very chic and classy cocktail bar, up there with the best in London! Staff are attentive and very professional, comfy surroundings and location perfect. 5 stars!
For a night to remember, look no further then the Experimental Cocktail Club in the heart of London’s China Town. From the entrance it may not seem very exciting yet once you get passed the doorman and walk up the shabby looking stairs you arrive in a decadent Parisian inspired little bar with a hint of Soho fun. The menu was created by a top mixologist, the idea being that the drinks are affordable and classical with a hint of something new. The St Germain is a popular one, made of a gin base combining flavors of elderflower, cucumber juice and chilies, remaining refreshing yet spicy. Although sophisticated, this bar is not pretentious. On the contrary, the idea is to socialize in a luxurious atmosphere and just relax with a carefully concocted drink and chilled out music. If you are feeling peckish, you can indulge in cheese and charcuterie boards served all through the night. There is limited space so it is advised to book a table in advance.
One of the best cocktail venues in Central London. A great choice of mixes, all using the best spirits, including some that I hadn't seen before. It's in a great location, and has very knowledgeable and fun friendly bartenders. Highly recommended!
It breaks my heart to give the Experimental Cocktail Club such a low rating, as for years it was my go to place to take my visitors in London. I have yet to go to a cocktail bar that topped the experience of going to the ECC in 2010. It was cool, underground, mysterious and hard to find. When you finally arrived, you were opened to a world of exquisite glamour and impeccable service and flavours. I loved taking people there to show them how 'in' I was on the city, particularly if I had visitors. More often than not, going to the ECC was the highlight of their visits. Then it started to be impossible to get in the door. When you called the answer was walk-ins only. When you arrived, it was bookings only. I completely stopped going for a while, until earlier this year. My sister and her boyfriend came to visit me in London from abroad. Her only request for their visit was going to the ECC, which I think shows the experience we had there the last time (2010). I booked a table via email 2-3 months in advance to ensure we got a table, which we did. As we arrived, we didn't feel very welcome. One of my favourite things about going to cocktail bars is you get insights and recommendations from the staff, which then bring you a drink that feels like its tailored to your taste. Judging by how impatient the waitress appeared while we looked through the menu, I could tell this would not be case. As soon as the drinks arrived we were asked to pay. I am familiar with places that request either a tab or PAYG, however it appeared as if the waitress was expecting us to run away from the tab. The cocktails were average. I didn't particularly like any of the ones we got. The cocktails there used to be strong but beautifully delicate. This time they were just strong. In my opinion, any strong drink should be sipped slowly and enjoyed carefully. Although the place wasn't even full (I think we went on a Tuesday) the waitress looked annoyed that we weren't drinking at a fast enough pace. Needless to say, we left quickly after that without finishing our drinks, and I am not going back. So in short; the location and the venue is still pretty cool if you haven't been, but the atmosphere is gone. And what a shame too.
I had a terrible time here. I tried to book a table for drinks after my birthday dinner. I couldn't even get a table even with a few days forward planning. When our party got there in the evening, we were let in and found a table. One of my friends was running late and even though we had ordered our drinks and were comfortably sat down, the doorman would not allow my slightly late arriving friend entry. We were all very rudely dealt with, I hope they do not treat all their customers like this. We shall certainly not be going there again. A very pretentious set of door men and staff. Avoid - there are plenty of other cocktail bars in London!
Have visited this venue 3 times. The first time I hadn't booked ahead and was politely told by the door staff that the venue was full. The 2nd and 3rd time I booked ahead as I had guests. I received professional service from a knowledgable bar staff and after one drink was taken to a table with service. If you want to smash in cheap cocktails with rowdy teenagers then this is not the place for you. If, however, you wish to enjoy good cocktails, with young professionals and are prepared to pay a little extra for you drinks then this is the venue for you. Just book ahead.
2 years on still my favourite bar in London. Yes I do go regularly and no I don't work there. 5 stars from me.
Well, I was absolutlely shocked that a student bar could charge the extortionate prices for average cocktails. The prices were comparable to Claridges and Raffles, but there was no reason at all to think this place was special so worth the price. Don't waste your time or money! AVOID!
Having been to this place a few times in the past, I would say the best policy is to get there early if you want a seat. However, my friend and I got there as soon as the place opened at 6pm and were STILL told we had to squeeze in the little side chairs in the main entrance of the bar. The website explicitly says that half the bar is witheld from reservation in favour of walk-ins, but as we were the first people in there obviously it isn't true. As for the drinks, mine was lovely but my friend's was horrible. It tasted like a nasty cough syrup, it was experimental definitely but didn't work and with a 12 pound price label it was very disappointing. I like my cocktails and my spirits, and I'm always keen to try new flavours but it was terrible. When our waitress heard that we didn't like the drink she rolled her eyes at me and walked away looking harassed. If that's the response to the question "how are your drinks?". Following that she had the audacity to charge us service. We paid it because we didn't want to make a fuss but I definitely won't be coming back here. I've always put up with the inevitable trendiness of the unsigned bar because the drinks are great, but sadly that isn't enough any more. I can't afford to pay 12 pounds for a drink with service that bad, especially when there are other bars with much better service, that are much cheaper.
i can't believe the other fake reviews obviously by the doorman or bar staff . but judging by the level of friendlyness shown to my friends and i they prob can't string a friendly sentence together . average drinks rude staff nice location
Went there on a Sunday evening because Opium had a private event. They run a smaller cocktail list on Sunday - but being Sunday it was easy to get a table for four without a reservation. Had a bloke on acoustic guitar in the corner which was nice background music. Cocktails £10+12 plus the inevitable 12.5% service charge, but thankfully very good.
Brilliant! Loved the venue and the feel of the place. The cocktails were great, it's nice having something to choose from other than mojitos or sex on the beach. Waitress was great at recommending different drinks to us and when one of our party didn't like their drink, she replaced it free of charge. Definitely worth a visit but only for small groups of people max 4.
seriously? we did find many problems to get in, BUT WORST COCKTAIL EVER, we tried 5 different ones and ALL OF THEM TASTED SO BAD, for a place called like this it is a paradox, crazy seriously, anyone else with no experience could have done better. mine tasted like washing up liquid I am now even feeling stomach pain, such a shame
My girlfriend and I visited ECC on Saturday and after reading the reviews on this website were a little nervous about getting in as we didn't have reservations, but after no more than a cursory look from the young lady on the door and doorman, the door was opened and we were welcomed in with a smile and " have a good evening" Loved the place, music was 50's swing which was brilliant. Drinks were fantastic and the barman was professional and really looked after us. I don't normally write reviews but we didn't experience any of the attitude previous reviewers have so thought this was worth mentioning. Definitely go next time we are in London.
The booking system for this bar beggars belief! No telephone number only via email? The person behind the emails is rude and unaccomodating. What happened to customer service?
Walked in early on a Friday night (have tried to get in before on a Tuesday but they were full). Glad I came back, delicious cocktails and friendly attentive staff, we got a seat and then when more friends turned up the hostess found us a bigger table. Cool decor. Chilled laid back vibe, perfect for catching up with friends.
A message to the management of this bar. Please stop entering fake 5* reviews and actually try to address the issues that the majority of negative reviews are mentioning. It seems your Albanian doorman and Canadian waitress are not as friendly and helpful as you think they are. From the other (genuine) reviews, this might be a good place to start.
Well I decided to go here with a couple of female friends, even though the reviews were pants and i detest rude and arrogant people, I was hoping once past the front door it wouldn't matter and being a cocktail aficionado (well I like to drink them anyway), it was a must visit. Wow was I wrong......... Firstly, I am totally baffled how the Frenchman on the door has any right to treat customers with such distain. HE IS A GLORIFIED DOORMAN. I mean seriously, give someone a bit of power and they think they can control the world. So after being told I had no booking, (which I did of course), I had to provide the email proof and even then he turned his back on me, chatted to another couple coming in, let them through then came back to carry on sorting my entry out. WTF? I mean seriously, how annoying. Anyway, got through the Fort Knox style security on the front door, hoping I was going to be impressed. Again, I was completely wrong. It was no larger than my broom cupboard at home and smelt just as bad. I had booked, and I requested somewhere to sit. I was told 2 of us could sit down now, the third would have to wait 15 minutes or so. Hilarious! So basically I get to stand in the corner with the rest of the plebs in there, (mainly the wanna be skinny jean clan), whilst my 2 friends get to sit on what is pretty much a bench with no more space then you'd find in cattle class on a flight for ONE PERSON. So, situation at the moment is I am standing with the weirdo's, my 2 female friends with no lesbian tendencies are pretty much sitting on each others laps. Time for a drink, fast. This stage was no let-down in the proceedings...... the variety was poor, the quality of the mixing was substandard, (2 attempts to make my Old Cuban, which then tasted like a drink I had sifted from the drains in a glass that was stained with lipstick btw) and overpriced for what they were. So after sideways shuffling for 35 minutes like an eighties pop legend, between my friends and the skinny jean clan, (no I STILL wasn't seated). I called it quits. I am now raging again and that's just from remembering the night. I gave this 1 Star as otherwise it goes as unrated. It should have 0. DO NOT GO TO THIS VENUE IT IS REALLY REALLY PANTS.
I would not recommend this bar. At all! The 3 of us turn up without reservation as they have a 50% walk-in capacity. The group infont of us went in swiftly (and i swear the doorman was not even looking at any list) after being declined an entry, we stood by the side of the couple behind us just to listen to him re-explaining the door policy. They too, did not get in as they have no reservation. During this whole fiasco, we counted there are 6 people who left the bar. Surely we could fill in the walk-in capacity, don't we? No, we're just not good enough for the venue it seems. Ive been living in London for over a year and for the first time, it felt like we've been declined because we're asian. Ironically, this bar is right smack in chinatown.
Love the cocktails and chilled, chatty vibe. Never a problem getting in, as long as you email to reserve a couple of days in advance. Brilliant staff, who will often take time to make you something off-menu.
Fantastic! Staff were lovely, cocktails were amazing - I would recommend the Kota Ternate. I'm surprised by all the bad experiences people have had, maybe it's not for everyone. I would suggest booking, we booked 2 days before and had no issues getting in.
The place is dangerously pretentious, I can deal with that if it lives up to it, it doesn't. Don't bother, head elsewhere.
Silly admission policy and frankly only average once you're in. Go to Purl (great) or Night Jar (outstanding) instead.
This place is an absolute disgrace. For starters it is so above itself that the entrance looks like an industrial unit/derelict house. The door staff were dismissive, arrogant and unhelpful. On entry we found a staircase leading to another rude member of staff who was clearly out of her depth and couldn't cope with the influx of people. We were told then that we had to pay £5.00 entry. We stood in a cue and did so, hope of a lovely place disappearing by the moment. When we were finally allowed into the bar it was about the size of a living room and way too over capacity. There was nowhere for us to sit, and officious rules in place to prevent us putting a seat down to seat the three of us. After waiting 20 minutes for a seat to open up we were told to go and stand by a large group of people, which we did (like groupies!) they were then told to leave and we sat down. We had been sat one minute when another rude, up themself member of staff came and told my sister to move closer to me so they could shove another couple in next to us. There was a 4 inch gap for someone to sit down. At this point we asked for our entry fee back and left complaining to the lady on the door about the service. I dont care how up and coming they think they are, prices and service like that do not go hand in hand and they need to sort out the 'attitude' which is very much present when you go in.
Nice setting and quite good cocktails. The place just lacks a good atmosphere. You can't walk 3 meters without anyone pouncing on you to find out where you are going or what you need. We tried changing a stool for a nicer empty chair but were told that they didn't like it if you move things...
This place deserves zero stars! I have never met a more rude doorman in my life. Once you are inside the cocktails are really nothing special and overpriced. The atmosphere too. The only reason why it might attract attention is because its sth different in the area where it's located (the only cocktail bar among oriental restaurants). Time Out, you guys usually give great recommendations and I would trust you blindly, but what happened here?! AVOID!!! Worst customer service ever!