Experimental Cocktail Club

Bars and pubs, Cocktail bars Chinatown
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  • 3 out of 5 stars
(166user reviews)
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Experimental Cocktail Club isn’t the kind of place you’d expect to find in Chinatown. In fact, it’s not the kind of place you can expect to find very easily at all: don’t be surprised if you walk past the bar’s unassuming battered door several times before realising it leads to this buzzing three-floor joint filled with trendy groups and dating couples absorbed in lively chatter. Many of them will have reserved – it's a good idea if you don't want to be left disappointed and standing on Gerrard Street.

The drinks aren’t so experimental that they come in test tubes, but they’re consistently outstanding, making choosing what to order an almost impossible task. Throw in a gently lit backdrop of minimalist brick walls, mirrored walls and cut-glass tumblers and you're left with an opulent and cosy bar which, once found, you won't want to leave.

By: Alex Plim


Venue name: Experimental Cocktail Club
Address: 13A Gerrard Street
Opening hours: Open 6pm-3am Mon-Sat; 6pm-midnight Sun
Transport: Tube: Leicester Square tube
Price: Admission £5 after 11pm
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Average User Rating

2.9 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:50
  • 4 star:32
  • 3 star:7
  • 2 star:8
  • 1 star:68
3 people listening
Paul F
2 of 2 found helpful

I have to say I'm somewhat perplexed by the negative reviews here. I review many places in London as a mystery guest and have worked in hospitality as manager for a number of years before my current career - therefore I look at everything with a keen eye and am OCD about hospitality (particularly when its 'expensive')! If i dont like something, I say so. On that basis, I would have no hesitation whatsoever in recommending ECC in Chinatown to anyone! 

My partner and I visited on a Sunday evening, and so perhaps that added to the charm as it was not overcrowded - it was just right. The service was fantastic (attentive nut unintrusive), and the staff were knowledgeable when asked for drinks that suited the mood and tastes of Roxanne and I. The facilities where clean and very well kept. The drinks were served to the standard I would expect for the price and the staff made us very welcome and very comfortable. We engaged with them and likewise they engaged with us (something sometimes people forget!) Even when asked to move up a stool at the bar to accomodate others, it was done with polite dignity so as not to intrude on our evening. Yes it is pricey, but I did not feel aggrieved at paying our bill or the bill with service charge. We will certainly be returning!!! Thanks all for a lovely evening.

Mike P
2 of 2 found helpful

Very unimpressed. Was sitting with a couple of friends when the barman told us to hurry up and move so a group of higher spending banker types could have our table to spend their money on over priced, slightly above average cocktails that take 20 minutes to arrive.  

2 of 2 found helpful

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.

Nareeta S
1 of 1 found helpful

Doorman is racist and arrogant. Would not recommend this place to anyone.

soul f
1 of 1 found helpful

Awful place - very touristy vibe. Rude staff and FAR better cocktails can be found at numerous other proper Soho drinking establishments. If you like M&M world I imagine you'd also enjoy this! 

Nathan C
1 of 1 found helpful

If it were possible to give this venue zero stars I would. I was just voting for London's top 100 bars and couldn't believe that this place is in the top 10. Judging by the comments from the reviews here (apart from the very obvious ones from management that give this place 5 stars) many people have had a similarly terrible experience here. This place tries to be exclusive but just ends up being rude.

When I first tried this venue a few years ago I really enjoyed the unsigned speakeasy vibe. However, the next few occasions the staff were unbelievably rude, the drinks nice but not mindblowing, and the doorman arrogant.

The final time I went to ECC, I brought my friend who was visiting from overseas hoping to show her how great London was. We got there as soon as the doors opened, were given the worst seat in the corridor, despite there being only 3 other people in the venue for the entire time we were there. The waitress sneered at my friend when she asked us what flavours we liked. Later, when she came over to ask us how our drinks were and we replied that my friend didn't like hers very much, she just flounced off. I mean, why bother asking if you actually don't care? We left with my friend very disappointed and upset at having forked out for such a terrible experience.

I will NEVER visit ECC again, and also make sure to discourage others who are thinking of going. With the amount of amazing cocktail bars in London, that have better service, nicer drinks and a better attitude, ECC really doesn't deserve to even be in the top 500. Do yourself a favour and try out 69 Colebrook Row, Worship St Whistling Shop, Happiness Forgets etc etc.

Acacia B
1 of 1 found helpful

I was taken here for my birthday, and I can honestly say it was one of the worst birthdays I have so far experienced. The venue inside is small and narrow, with a few different levels for people to sit down or stand up it. I suppose in keeping with it's 'speakeasy' nature it's very badly lit inside. The bar staff were ok, not particularly helpful, one even went so far as to suggest I shouldn't have ordered one of the whiskey based cocktails because it was 'quite strong', I'm assuming that's because I am female (?) and therefore warranted a warning. The cocktails are ok, they're not fabulous, they're just extremely over priced. They don't use fresh ingredients behind the bar, it all comes from bottles, there's a lot of emphasis on looks and how to hand over a glass in the most flamboyant, pontifical way possible. Needless to say, my bad experience came mostly from the fact that one of my friends was not allowed  into the establishment. My friend had travelled across London to see me, was completely sober, dressed in a suit (as he had just finished work, and is a Doctor) and was aggressively refused entry into the bar. It was quite early in the evening and the bar was nowhere near it's capacity to be turning people away (as in fact they let several people in after my friend was turned away). We came to the conclusion it had more to do with the fact he was asian and that the doorman had seemed to take exception to this. We left promptly afterwards noting that the clientele were only caucasian. 

I would not recommend this establishment to anyone, I was disgusted by this behaviour and will never go again.  

Jimmy Bob


1 of 1 found helpful

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.

Lloyd C
1 of 1 found helpful

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. 

1 of 1 found helpful

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.

1 of 1 found helpful

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.

1 of 1 found helpful

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

1 of 1 found helpful

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.

1 of 1 found helpful

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.

Tony Rooney
1 of 1 found helpful

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.........

1 of 1 found helpful

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.

Vikki Ross
1 of 1 found helpful

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.

Roxanne Haydon
1 of 1 found helpful

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.

1 of 1 found helpful

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.

1 of 1 found helpful

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.

1 of 1 found helpful

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.

1 of 1 found helpful

I spent 2 nights last week and i just loved this venue. It is true, it can be a little bit hard to get in but you will understand why! It is not for everyone. Great cocktail menu, good vide and cool crowd. You should go and check it out! Best, R.O

1 of 1 found helpful

Great venue, good cocktails and nice crowd! You should go...

1 of 1 found helpful

Favorite bar ever!! Drinks, people.... just love love it!

1 of 1 found helpful

Love this venue! Drinks are very good, music very different (from our mainstream places) and beautiful crowd. Sorry Xanthe if you had a bad experience but I think it s only the beggining of a long life for this bar. Marty

fiona oulander
1 of 1 found helpful

We had a great evening, very good music and incredible drinks. The venue is very hidden but you may see it because of the line up waiting in front. Dress smart and o for the Saint Germain cocktail, a must!

1 of 1 found helpful

Awesome venue and very cool crowd! Drink the Old Cuban hmmmmmmmmm ;-) K.

1 of 1 found helpful

Brilliant place. Went there on monday, an unexpected trip out and despite being Halloween with most bars overly packed, this was brilliant. The Albanian doorman was great, cocktails great, decor & ambience perfect!

1 of 1 found helpful

!What a wonderful evening we had! You will have to try the St Germain des Pres or Kota Ternate. The Canadian waitress was very helpfull and took time to explain us everything and the different dj we had all night long where amazing too. We will come back there soon and you should do the same :-) Tania and Co.

1 of 1 found helpful

Exceptionaly great cocktail bar. Highly recommended!

1 of 1 found helpful

Yummy eleborated cocktails, funcky music and handsome experimented bartenders The venue is great but it s true: hard to find and difficult to get in! Ps: Open wide your eyes,dress smart and trendy that's my tip.

William Freeman
1 of 1 found helpful

This is one of my favourite night time hangs. Great location in an area of town where actually there aren't a lot of other particularly exciting choices. The decor is stylish, the staff extremely friendly and the bartenders, with their Harry Potter potions, are the type of guys that appear to take genuine pleasure in their artistry. I would take half a star off if Time Out would let me because sometimes the cocktails can be so outrageous in their invention that they can miss the mark every now and then, however they still get an A for effort in my book and so deserve to get rounded up to 5 stars. Now, shhhh! Don't tell anyone about it!

Katie D

We went on Saturday early evening and found the staff very rude and the seating uncomfortable. The whole experience was dampened by one waitress' telling us abruptly and rudely we would have to move if a reservation arrives even though when we decided to leave 20 minutes later half the bar was empty, she needs lessons in how to talk to customers. V unimpressed.

Lee N

I ended up in this bar by accident a few weeks ago, my friend knew it and as we were walking past decided to pop in, it was about 10.30 on a saturday night so it was very busy, no seats and a tigh squeeze in the hallways. despite that, we just stood with our drinks and grabbed a seat when othe left. the music was good and the drinks were nice. its standard london prices and feels a bit exclsive as its so hidden away. It would be a disaster for a group of more than three people as youd have to stand in a straight line given the layout of the place but for dates or small groups its perfect. And the door staff dont allow louts or drunk people- which is great for us non-louts :)

Kieron R

The first time i went i thought this place was a gem. The cocktails were quite nice but i liked the feel of the place. I work nearby so i took some friends on a quiet night to introduce them to what i thought was a cool new find. When we arrived there was a new bouncer who treated us like we were ISIS. 

Now i'm all for keeping a place a secret and not letting people in who would ruin the atmosphere, but this was new custom from a large local business who had recommended the place to their friends. Where is the logic there? 

Also, this is not the 80s, do you still need to be rude to run a bar these days?

I think not.

Peter G

I tonight I had the unfortunate idea of trying this bar for a quick drink. I am 25 years old and this has been the worst decision I have made in my life. Not only were the staff extremely rude and cocky, but the drinks were also mediocre given the price and there was a specific employee who was wearing a beret that behaved like a small child with several customers. I was truly surprised to find such poor service at this venue and would only recommend it to my worst enemies. In fact, I would rather drink under the rain from a cheap bottle of wine than go through the painful experience of visiting the Experimental Cocktail Club again. Truly pathetic.

Kateryna V

I have been thinking of checking this place out for a while now. Hidden in the heart of London's China Town the entrance is totally nondescript, just as you would expect a drinking den styling itself as a speakeasy would be. Once you are in, however, the place struck me as spacious as you wouldn't expect a hidden speakeasy bar would. 

There are so many reviews of ECC on TimeOut website I doubt it's possible to add something fundamentally new. I do feel compelled to dispel some of the more common concerns raised, however: 

So, i did make a reservation (as suggested on the web-site). However, my friend arrived 30 min early, had no idea there was a reservation, talked to the doorman politely and was admitted without much ado. I must mention that he is black as the night. So I cannot help but wonder if maybe, to address all those charges of racism and snotty doormen, being polite and decent could actually help? Further, the service was decent throughout: they didn't try to upsell, or kick us out earlier (we were lingering), were available to give advice and refill our glasses of tap water, and took good care of our multiple Christmas shopping bags. 

On the other hand, although satisfying, the drinks and design are nothing to write home about. If you've been to a decent speakeasy before, you've seen this kind of low-lit design already. If you are familiar with the London bar scene, you've had better cocktails. 

So all in all, I give ECC solid four stars (that could deteriorate to three in the weekend rush hours). If I know I'll be in the area, I might book online and visit again.

Ioanna La

I really loved ECC. The fact that you will never find it if you don't know where to go exactly is exciting. The atmosphere was great, the decoration and the mirror on the ceiling was fantastic, the staff were very polite and the cocktails were delicious, but, of course, pricey! I need to go back asap!


I will have to jump in as well to the defense of this bar. Each time I have gone they have given me a table, I really like the cocktails and I am willing to pay more for something a bit more special and the decor is really pretty. 

The one negative I do have is that the menu does not seem to change much so I tend to order the ones I know. 

Sarah V

Though the drinks are definitely overpriced, and the whole idea of charging an entry fee to a bar where one is spending money anyway just really pisses me off, the cocktails are actually quite good. Moreover, when you find yourself out and about after 1AM in this area on a week night, there really aren't that many places left to go and this bar is probably one of the more sensible options. I like the fact that it a hidden oasis of coolness in the middle of Chinatown. Service is always friendly, and, as said, the cocktails are of very high standard. If only they weren't so damn expensive...

NakedPRGirl Claire

I was on a date on Saturday night which had started with food at Borough Market and wine at the Shard but at 12 o clock it still felt early so I googled 'London bars you can drink in after midnight' and went with what I found! This fly by the seat of my pants strategy looked like it was a mistake when the taxi pulled up outside. Not only was the entrance like a wardrobe door in the depths of China Town, but secondly it was being patrolled by a guy with a clipboard and finally there was a guy on the street who had just stumbled out of the restaurant next door and was throwing up on the pavement. This is sounding SO Sex and the City right now?! The doorman asked about reservations (I mean dude, at this point it was like 1am) before being allowed through the wardrobe door upstairs. I was expecting a drug den at best (or quite possible Narnia) so pleasantly surprised to find an upstairs which had a little of a Great Gatsby feeling to it. Loud music with a retro influence, a deep dark cocktail club with people dancing around - perfect for 1am you might say. The cocktails were PRICEY. My first tasted like water. The second, Handsome Jack, blew my head off! I think I'm still drunk now. I think we were turfed out around 3am...maybe 4am?!? Anyway, it's exactly what it says on the tin and given that few London bars open later than midnight, perfect for a few naughty cocktails when you should probably be in bed. www.nakedprgirl.com

Alana R

First dates always go smoother with some alcohol, add in some mystery and delicious drinks, you get the Experimental Cocktail Club. Sitting at the bar, you could watch them whip up the many toned drinks with their expertise.  From reading the reviews it sounds like going there mid-week is when the ECC should be visited. We had a great time and when we were leaving, a band was starting to play jazz music at this suave speak-easy bar. I must admit, the drinks were a tad pricey, but maybe I'm not used to London prices yet. 

Gerald C

Stay away! Worst place in central London.

AVOID AT ALL COSTS. I have lived in London 6 years and been to most of the most exclusive bars and venues, and this was the RUDEST doorman I have ever come across in London. REPUGNANT and ARROGANT behaviour for some small venue. I went to meet two lady friends who were upstairs after work, and the doorman asked me if I had a reservation.

I said I don't know, I'm just here to meet two friends who told me to come. I suggest that I call them, and my friend came down to get me. So I then said, "Now you have your answer about the reservation, can I come in"?

He curtly replied, "If you continue talking like that, you won't".

I was not even aggressive or rude whatsoever, he was. Thought he was some big shot.

I went away and told my friends to leave - I never patronise rudeness.

We we went to another cocktail bar nearby which was much friendlier, and even the staff there had heard of their terrible customer service, and exaggerated prices. Form all accounts, an overrated, overpriced place, with the RUDEST door staff I have encountered.

Christie A

Once inside, the crowd is great although the doorman sets a pretentious vibe, often ignoring your attempts at entry. 

The cocktails are excellent, however the waiters seem rushed and service can take time. The music is not too loud either which is often a problem, making conversation difficult. The cucumber water is also refreshing and waiters do their best to keep you topped up! Would definitely tell people to go here if they were looking for a great cocktail bar in Chinatown. They are also really great with holding your coats and bags and effortlessly take these from you upon entry. 

Sam p

I have now been to this bar three times. On the first two occasions I was very pleased - entered (no doorman present), was served in a polite and friendly manner (by a lovely Canadian waitress) and enjoyed lovely drinks. More recently, when I attended on a Sunday evening my friend and I drew up to the entrance to find a doorman present, who immediately asked in a rather unpleasant tone "What do you want?". We were then asked (in a similarly rude tone) if we had a reservation, why we didn't have a reservation and what the purpose of our visit was. He begrudgingly agreed to let us enter at which point I attempted to explain why I was a little hesitant/confused by stating that I hadn't seen a doorman here before. He immediately closed the door and retorted that I "obviously haven't been here before" and sharply pointed out: "I'm here on the door every night". In a friendly manner, I then pointed out that I had been a few times before and even mentioned that I was familiar with the "Canadian bartender". He immediately argued (in an unfriendly tone): "We don't have a Canadian bartender". I made it clear that I meant the waitress who had served me on two previous occasions, and frankly his response was not only rude to me, but also about her. "She's not a bartender, she's JUST a waitress. You should learn the difference." At this point we were finally admitted. 

When we got upstairs the bar was barely full. We were seated as usual, but as it was a Sunday night were provided with a limited menu. Previously (also on a Sunday night) I had requested a different drink (not on this limited menu) and the aforementioned Canadian waitress had been very obliging and provided us with the normal, full drinks menu. This time however, the waitress who served us was quite rude and stated these were the only drinks available and implied heavily that if we didn't like it we could go elsewhere. 

On reflection of this visit, all I can say is that I wish we had gone elsewhere. Between the extremely rude doorman, unfriendly and unhelpful waitress, and slow service (which we received only on this night) I had a terrible time. After this experience, I most definitely will NOT be returning to ECC and will also vehemently discourage everybody I know from going. Go to Purl instead. It is 1000x better. 

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