Shochu Lounge

Critics' choice
© Jonathan Perugia / Time Out

Beneath landmark Japanese Roka, this buzzing, chic bar specialises in drinks built around the vodka-like spirit from which it takes its name.

The decor is right out there – some of London’s wackiest murals adorn the walls – but the abundance of lovely dark wood and the low lighting give a total visual effect that’s not just soothing but subtly seductive. And the seating reinforces it, with lots of places where two people can settle in and feel they’re in their own little nook. One wall is lined with big demijohn-like tanks of shochu, the traditional Japanese spirit, which takes centre stage – it comes flavoured with interesting additions like plum or sweet potato and forms the basis of many of the fine cocktails. There’s nowhere else like this in London.  

Venue name: Shochu Lounge
Address: Basement, Roka
Cross street: 37 Charlotte Street
Opening hours: Open 5.30pm-midnight Mon-Sat; 5.30-11pm Sun. Food served 5.30-11.30pm Mon-Sat; 5.30-10.30pm Sun
Transport: Tube: Goodge Street or Tottenham Court Road tube

Average User Rating

1 / 5

Rating Breakdown

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1 person listening

I like drinking shochu, but it's hard to find in the UK. A bottle which is typically a couple of pounds in Japan can go for as much as thirty pounds in an asian supermarket. I've been to this bar and the upstairs restaurant a few times. Roka, the restaraunt is nothing special and hideously overpriced. The Shochu lounge is quite atmospheric and if you just want a couple of plates of yakitori and a beer, it's overpriced but bearable. However, I went there last night just to have a glass of shochu. When I asked for this the waitress said "Which flavour?" Now the drink shochu is made from either barley, sweet potato or rice, each with its own distinct flavour. My surprise came when the waitress said "Rasberry or jasmine?" Er, just straight on the rocks please, I asked...To which the waitress said "We just have rasberry and jasmine." followed by "Shochu doesn't have any taste so you have to flavour it." My companion went for the jasmine, at £7 a glass! Tasted horrid. This is like going into a wine bar and being offered 'banana or avocado' wine as 'wine has no taste.' I mean, of course you can mix it, but why not be able to just drink it straight? Snooty staff who don't know what they're on about, and a bar called shochu that doesn't sell it. Decor's quite nice, but otherwise pretty naff all round.