Comb your way through the wash of Simmons and Be at One chain bars scattered across Soho, you’ll find the best cocktails in London’s buzzy hub lie in more understated spots. Henson’s Bar and Social, on the ground floor of Mimi’s Hotel, is just that. With its oak-panelled lounge, fuzzy red velvet curtains and low ceilings, it has an old boys’ club vibe, but thankfully minus the stuffy men.
There’s nothing OTT about Henson’s, but it still maintains a sense of grand, classic bougieness. It’s the sort of place you’d take someone if you wanted to impress them, but also show that you’re both down-to-earth and refined. The atmosphere was pleasant, but not as bustle-y as I was hoping for on a Thursday night in Soho. The generic, swish bar music was also a bit dull and could have done with more consideration.
The menu, however, was exacted with painstaking precision, because the drinks were absolutely delicious. Henson’s extensive offering showcases a range of classics done absolutely right. It’s a blend of drinks you know and more rogue blockbuster concoctions, such as the exuberant Truffle in Paradise, but nothing ridiculous or overdone.
The cocktails – all £13 – are broken down into four categories: Signature, Aperitivo, Classic and Forgotten Classics. The Mezcal Negroni was a smoky delight, strong and fragrant and topped off with a shaving of orange over the top of a gigantic ice cube. The Daiquiri was crispy, zesty and fresh.
Next up was the show-stopping Joy of Life – a delicate, juicy and light cocktail made from cachaça, pineapple sherbert, lime juice and sage leaves. We then had a burrata and cheese board to line our stomachs. There was an impressive selection of locally sourced British cheeses, but it wasn’t much to write home about – the snacks menu could have been a little more imaginative.
If you’re heading down to Henson’s, focus on the honest, straightforward cocktails, which come with a healthy dose of suave.
The vibe: An unpretentious, classic and refined spot for cocktails in the heart of Soho.
The drink: There’s lots! Signature, traditional and forgotten classic cocktails.
Time Out tip: Ignore the food and stick to the booze.