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Leicester Square

LAB was created in 1999, which makes it a granddaddy in London’s cool bar scene. But it shows no signs of decline: the quality is consistent visit after visit. They’ve always had a very long cocktail list, 90-plus, and some drinks get a bit clever for their own good. But mostly they are grounded in LAB’s core principle: understanding and perfecting cocktail fundamentals. The Soho Lady, one of their own creations, is a tall sour based on gin, with Aperol and fresh raspberries, served over crushed ice with a top of fizzy wine. Classic. Standard drinks are always perfect, and the bartenders love talking to customers who need help figuring out what to order. Noise levels are high, but no higher than in comparable places. You can book tables downstairs, and it’s sensible to do so. Prices remain very low for the quality and the area. Great drinks, low prices, unfailing consistency – what more can you ask for?


Venue name: LAB
Address: 12 Old Compton Street
Opening hours: Open 4pm-midnight Mon-Sat; 4-10.30pm Sun. Food served 4-10pm daily
Transport: Tube: Leicester Square or Tottenham Court Road tube

Average User Rating

2 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:2
  • 4 star:1
  • 3 star:0
  • 2 star:0
  • 1 star:8
2 people listening

I came here the other week with a colleague; had a brilliant time. The cocktail menu is huge - there's so much to choose from. We ended up getting a few rounds, so we could experiment with the drinks we had. The bar is really cool and the staff are very friendly and helpful with recommendations


LAB Bar Old Compton Street - do not go!!!!! BEWARE....went last w-end & unbeknown to me they added £34 tip to my £24 bill. Thankfully had receipts & noticed the following day & rang the manager. He stated 'its a London thing'. Really - reminded him he was speaking to a Londoner & that the customer adds the tip not the staff. Total rip off merchants. He agreed to reimburse. However his behaviour & reaction suggests this is a regular occurence in this loud, low lit downstiars bar (where one may not notice the tip added) esp when I was given a till receipt for £24 & then the debit card machine bill was £58. NEVER AGAIN _BEWARE!


I've been to this bar 4 or 5 times and have always found the service and cocktails to be of a great standard. Yes it can get a little busy and you may have to wait a while, but I've never had a drink their that I haven't enjoyed. As long as you book a table its really good for a few after work drinks.


I went to this bar a couple of years back and thought it was great and loved the extensive cocktail menu, but on a recent visit I was disgusted not only by the service but the quality of the drinks. The bartenders are not dedicated to serving you and they make drinks between them for different customers whilst "serving you". My drink tasted nothing like it should have done according to the description. It was politely returned to the bar and after being told we were wrong they did begrudgingly offer to make me a new drink. My friends was nice so another barman (not the one we were speaking to) made me the same drink. Shock Horror it tasted nothing like hers with certain alcohols definitely omitted! I would never recommend the place to anyone. The bartenders were also very rude to a group that arrived just after us. So much so that they left before even buying a drink, I wish I'd done that rather than wasting my money!


What a shame- a few years ago this place was immaculate. Friends from my bartending days used to work here and knew how to make a drink. My friend and I ordered cocktails, the classic was served long and thus diluted (this is a favourite drink of mine), and the lychee martini was made with orange juice and an enormous orange zest garnish?! The service was also below average, we were asked to sit downstairs where it was too brightly lit and empty. Unless they revamp LAB, I'm afraid I won't be returning.


Rude staff, sweltering hot, a stairwell that smells like vomit, expensive and mediocre cocktails, no charm, fading decor, shite music. Well, its the standard Soho bar experience.... AVOID!


Heard good reviews. Went there to check it out. Bad cocktails mind you, they were classic ones : a simple Cosmopolitan and a Mojito. They tasted like diluted water. We asked the bartender if he could tweak it a bit, to justify the price tag that we paid for that cocktail, not only did he make it worse, but when we told him it was bad, he asked us to take it up with the manager and walked away. never again.


Popped into Academy last night and what a sad state of affairs. Such a soho institution from about 10 years ago now delivering rubbish cocktails. Perhaps it was just the night or what I ordered but my Espresso Martini tasted more like Nescafe and the Margarita was worse. Basic cocktails should be nailed in a cocktail bar like this: really really disappointing.


I have been to Academy several times, and consistently found all of the staff to be very friendly (yes, even the doorman) and the bartenders extremely competent in the art of well-made, hand-crafted cocktails. A stop for a quick one can easly turn into a great night of drinking and mingling among an unpretentious happy crowd.


As the review says, it's nothing to look at - decor is like a decaying youth club. The layout is terrible, a group larger than 3 will find themselves in a line along the room and unable to talk. Bartenders may be good at cocktails, although we never found out as the one we asked *refused* to give us some water and an non-alcoholic cocktail. wouldnt be paid to go back