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The Vault of Soho

Bars and pubs, Cocktail bars Soho
3 out of 5 stars
5 out of 5 stars
(35user reviews)
The Vault Bar
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The Vault Bar (© Paul Hampartsoumian)
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© Paul Hampartsoumian
The Vault Bar
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The Vault Bar
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The Vault Bar
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The Vault Bar
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The Vault Bar
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Venue says The Vault serves up unpretentious, original and unforgettable cocktails in a welcoming basement bar hidden under the streets of Soho.

The whisky shop and bar has expanded with a cocktail bar in the basement, but retains the whisky-first emphasis.

Lovers of the malted grain have being paying homage at the whisky specialist Milroy’s since 1964. It has accumulated an enormous range of whiskies: around 400 from Scotland alone. A small tasting bar on the ground floor has been a feature for some years, but now – under new, independent ownership – the bar side is considerably expanded. There’s a small copper-topped bar with just a few stools, plus a table for two in the window. The ground floor is whisky-and-whiskey-only. If you’re looking for other spirits, head downstairs.

The basement bar, aka The Vault, now calls itself a ‘speakeasy’ bar. This misleading bit of marketing-speak might be regarded as passé, and it isn’t particularly convincing here: it’s just a shorthand way of describing an dimly lit basement bar with dark-hued furnishings. But it's an attractive and comfortable room, and there is a rather splendid touch in the entrance to the stairway down the basement – you enter via a ‘hidden’ door in a fake bookcase.

In the bar’s early days the service, though sweet and smiling, lacked the polished sheen of professionalism. But this didn’t detract from the perfection of a martini made with the bartender’s recommendation of The Botanist gin. The main cocktail list is heavy on experimentation, and the bartender’s evident expertise might make it worthwhile dipping in there. Drinks hover around £10, which is not unreasonable in this part of town.

Soho’s not short of cocktail bars, but Milroy’s has lit a bright new spark in its underground cavern. The Vault is quality you can bank on.

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The Vault of Soho says
The Vault proudly serves up unpretentious, original and unforgettable cocktails in a welcoming basement bar hidden under the streets of Soho.

Access to the Vault is gained by passing through an unassuming bookcase, secretly standing at the back of Milroy's of Soho - London's oldest whisky shop. Yes, there is a whisky shop above meaning whisky lovers will be spoiled for choice. Fancy a classy cocktail? Just slip through the bookcase and down to The Vault where there is a cocktail to please any taste buds (as long as those taste buds like alcohol, obviously).

Open 6-11.30pm, Tuesday-Saturday.
Bookings for groups of four or more can be made - smaller groups needn't book. Requests for events and full venue hire can be made via email.
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By: Richard Ehrlich

Posted:

Venue name: The Vault of Soho
Contact:
Address: 3 Greek Street
London
W1D 4NX
Do you own this business?
Static map showing venue location

Average User Rating

4.6 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:25
  • 4 star:8
  • 3 star:1
  • 2 star:0
  • 1 star:1
LiveReviews|35
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1 of 1 found helpful

Went to The Vault last night for some impromptu Valentines drinks - I was worried me and my partner wouldn't get a table since we had forgotten to book. However this wasn't a problem and after a short wait, we were given a table in a nice area. The atmosphere in the bar was really cool and unpretentious and quite frankly we had an amazing night! The drinks were delicious and I will be coming back again very soon! 

Tastemaker

Have been wanting to come here for a while and was able to use the husband's birthday as an excuse to book. You know you are going to have a good time when you have to push a book shelf to get into your location. Not surprisingly, they have a very extensive whiskey selection, but we opted for the cocktails. I would put the cocktails firmly in the 'safe' category. Nothing crazy, but its nice to know regardless what you choose you will enjoy your drink. Some cocktail bars its almost like playing cocktail roulette, not here. Safe and secure in your little bunker bar. 


You know when you read about those romantic, secret speakeasies that serve killer drinks in a cosy room, with attentive service and where the music is just right so you can actually yourself and your date? Well this is that place, the benchmark. By far my favourite in Soho.

Tastemaker

A friend took me here after we spent some time wondering around Soho on a Friday night looking for a place to sit down. I can't believe I've passed by many times without having the slightest idea there's this little gem hiding behind the perennially popular Milroy's. You need to pass right through the whiskey bar. The entrance to The Vault hides behind a book shelf door. Then down a flight of stairs you go. The theatrics of it all is brilliant. At the time of our visit the added bonus was witnessing live the natural segregation of sexes in action: there must've been at least 30 males plonked along the counter and standing around at Milroy's, looking like they are very serious about their whiskey, with not a single female in sight. Once the realisation strikes, it really is hilarious.

The Vault itself feels like what speakeasy bars should be (let's face it - if it's easy to get into, it's not really a speakeasy). It's dimly lit and crowded and feels cosy. When we came they had no seating available but they did their best to accommodate us and were really nice and friendly. We initially asked to be reseated if something comes up as the high stools by a perch above the fire place looked vaguely uncomfortable, and they kept the promise and approached us with a few options as the night unfolded. By that time we couldn't be bothered though. 

The cocktail list reads well balanced (I believe everyone would find something to their liking) and is well priced for Central London (prices start at £9.50). The ones we've had were not stellar but that mostly had to do with the wrong choices we've made (we were feeling adventurous). The bartender's skill was there. The best seating is at the bar. If you are lucky or early enough to nab a place their, you might get an occasional taster from the barman. All in all, an excellent little venue to know and impress friends or, better yet, a date. Book to avoid disappointment, though.

tastemaker

I don't want to tell people about this special place! I've always been a big fan of speakeasy bars. Hush hush! 

Tastemaker

Hidden behind a book case at the back of Milroy's on Greek Street is The Vault. It's very dark and smells of incense and makes for a unique place to take unsuspecting friends. The cocktail menu is diverse and prices range from £9.50 to £12.50. I went for a light gin drink but some of my friends went for peaty scotch drinks which were much stronger! The service was attentive and we didn't wait long at all for our drinks. On a Wednesday at 10:30 the bar was quite full but we were still able to get a table for four right away. The only downside was that even on a cool March night, the basement was boiling hot and humid. It didn't make us want to stay for more than one round of drinks.  


What a great experience Milroys is, my gf wasn't sure of the place giving she doesn't like whisky but everywhere else was fully booked so I gave it a shot, the guys upstairs suggested us to go to the vault and with a table that hasn't show up, we waited 10min more just to reach the "30min-no-show" and they gave us a table, with that I managed to impress my girl. Guys are super friendly and made our night with great drinks and a smooth service. Thank you for saving my Valentines :) coming back with my friends for some whisky next time.


Surprised my girlfriend by taking her to The Vault for valentines. Hadn't been before and didn't know what to expect but the whole speakeasy prohibition feel appealed right to her and my tastes. Personally my favourite cocktail was the Japanese Rose Garden, I recommend it (especially if you like your drinks punchy!) 


Absolutely terrible service... We arrived 15 minutes late after calling them to ask, to be told our valentines reservation wasn't on the list. Other couples in front of us had the same problem too. I had received their confirmation email earlier today! Then when I asked to sit at an empty table (had been empty a while) he said there wasn't much point because we would still have to wait a while for drinks. When I said that's fine, the guy continued to say 'you're half an hour late, but I'll find another table for you if you wait' and just ignored me and made us feel like we were utterly unwelcome. Given the abundance of prohibition underground bars in London I would recommend going anywhere but here, there are many more special bars our there!

tastemaker

Milroys is a well-known institution in Soho as a whisky shop that has been around for many years. However its only in the last few years they have opened the basement into a secret cocktail bar. There is a bar in the back of the shop, walk straight past that as if you know exactly what you are doing, and through the bookcase at the back of the shop and down the stairs. They have an extensive list of top shelf whisky cocktails (yum) and also a list of seasonal cocktails for the non-whisky lover full of gin, vodka and other non-whisky cocktails. This should go without saying now, but you need to book if you want a table!

Staff Writer

In a dark, dark town there was a dark, dark street and in the dark, dark street there was a dark, dark shop, and in the dark, dark shop (behind a bookcase) there were some dark, dark stairs and down the dark, dark stairs there was a dark, dark cellar and in the dark dark cellar….there is the best speakeasy in London. The cocktails are beyond comparison and the staff are amazingly attentive. It's tricky to get a table sometimes so definitely book ahead but if you like whiskey, there is nowhere in London like it.

Tastemaker

I discovered The Vault purely by chance. Having walked past Milroy’s on many occasions, I’d seen punters through the window at the upstairs whisky bar, sampling a dram or two, and decided one evening I’d pop in and have a drop of the stuff myself. Once inside, I purchased a recommendation from one of the bar staff and, while enjoying it and the surroundings of the quaint, wood panelled, interior, noticed a number of customers entering the shop and passing straight through to somewhere out back. It quickly became apparent there was some sort of bar located there. So, after finishing my dram, I wandered over to where they were all disappearing, where I came up against a tall bookshelf. It was a ‘secret’ door, which I gently pushed and it opened into a little yard. I stepped inside and saw a flight of stairs leading down to a basement area, a blue neon sign above the stairwell displaying ‘The Vault’. I made my way down. Not a huge bar area but dimly lit and cosy with dark furnishings. The bar staff were very friendly and even served me a free drink as I was finishing my first cocktail. I thought it was a mistake until the barman told me it was on the house! I stayed until last train home allowed and even got a hug from one of the waitresses as I left to make my way back upstairs again. If you go in a group and want a seat, probably best to book in advance.

Tastemaker

I mean, I don't realllly like whisky but when I heard there was a secret door leading to a basement bar which served cocktails, well, LET ME IN!

The whisky shop itself is cool - spacious, light, with cabinets full of whiskies (as you would imagine) ranging from the reasonable to the expensive, a bar to prop yourself up against and a few tables and chairs, including 2 cool seats made from barrels turned on their side - fun!

At the back is a book shelf that when pushed opens and there you find a staircase down to a dark, broody bar with lots of shabby sofas, stools and tables. Luckily we got the last space for a couple as all the rest were occupied or reserved. There is waitress service and a friendly lady came over to take our order. My bf just went for a beer and I picked from their interesting cocktail menu (don't worry there is plenty of non-whisky cocktails to choose from). I went for Holy Trinity (Home Spiced Rum, Engine Oil Stout Reduction, Muscavado, Prosecco, Egg White & Dark Chocolate). Sounds odd but tastes delicious - not too sweet and a lovely smooth finish. All the seasonal cocktails (about 12 of them) are £9.50 and there is no happy hour or deals however the place, the drinks and people make it worth it so definitely give it a go! They also have a larger whisky cocktail menu which range from £11-£14. For those of you who may get peckish they have a small menu of nibbles - nuts, olives, bread, cheeses and meats. AND of course they serve drams of whisky as well as whisky tastings.

Tip: they do take bookings so if there is a group of you I would definitely recommend giving them a ring.


loved the atmosphere and the secret entrance, i don't want to give it away but find a book you like lol


Best bar in Soho. It's a hidden gem soon to be discovered by the world!


went here on a friday, managed to get a seat at the bar but suggest booking on busier nights. the bar is the place to be though. they really know their stuff and out of top 5 cocktail i have had in life 3 are here.


Intimate space with delicious, unusual drinks and friendly, knowledgable staff. Oh and a cute resident pooch! Great value too.

Staff Writer

Great place to take visitors given you have to enter the shop and walk through a bookcase door to the bar downstairs. It's only lit by candlelight so is very dark and cosy downstairs, a cute cocktail list in the form of old novels. You can sometimes be lucky and just walk in, but best to reserve a table if heading there Thurs-Fri evenings.


Magical place! I'm completely in love with the painting downstairs called The Prophet on top of the fire place, some say that the painting has the power to tell what's going to happen in future so why not give it a go, you wont regret it 


Fantastic place, service was second to none and all I can say about the cocktails is wow. Try and grab a seat at the bar is my best advice


Had a seat at the bar whilst waiting for a friend and got chatting to the bar staff who were more than happy to chat about their menu and even give a few tips on making cocktails of my own. Great little venue, something for everyone as you can get cocktails of the menu too. I'd recommend this place for a quiet date, meeting a few mates or one of the rooms out the back for a party. No need to queue at the bar waiting for drinks as they bring them straight to your table.


One of the best places around for either a chilled one to one drink or a larger group night out! Whilst enjoying the drinks I have also learnt a fair bit about cocktails and whisky aswell! Whenever I've been staff have been friendly and the bar offers a great atmosphere! 


This place knows how to do cocktails! Whether it's one of their seasonal specials or an old classic, you know you are in safe hands as soon as you step through the bookcase.

And not only is it a great setting to chat and have a few drinks, but you can indulge in a range of other drinks, including the vast whisky selection (courtesy of the upstairs shop) as well as wine and their own craft beers.


Can I live on the Carnibation Army alone? These guys know a thing or two about making a cocktail!


Love this place. Great atmosphere: comfy seats, right level of buzz, great music but not so loud that you can't hold a conversation. Oh - and really novel, fun cocktails!


I confess that I am not really a whisky (or whiskey) aficionado (something to do with a bottle of Bells at school many years ago), but Milroy's offers something for both the serious whisky drinker and the pure novice at the copper-topped bar upstairs, and a fantastic (and regularly changing) list of cocktails downstairs, a space reached through the bookcase at the end of the bar. 


The copper-topped bar in the shop is a great place to sit and sip, whilst watching the fun of Soho pass by, but descend into the Vault, and the mood changes: you can, should you wish, have a classic martini or Negroni, which will be made expertly with panache, but it is something made from one of the infusions that the team of Simo and Nat (both ex of Coal Vaults) create for their one-off concoctions that it is worth trying. The Di Barrel (a cherry wood infused bourbon based drink, complete with a chartreuse shard) or Smoking Gun (a smoke infused corn whisky based cocktail) are well worth a try, whilst lighter, fruitier drinks, with raspberry, blackberry and pomegranate infused vodka, for instance, for those who like something other than pure alcohol in their drinks, are also superb. 


One of the problems that I often find of an evening out is that is that you have a great drink of something and then can't find it later: the joy of Milroy's (or one of the many rather), is that, being a shop (the oldest whisky shop in London it seems), all of the great whiskies that you taste can be purchased. This can be dangerous after a few drams, but makes excellent business sense! 


So go and try a wee drop upstairs, buy a bottle of your favourite and then push through the book case, settle into a sofa and spend the evening with some fantastic cocktails: if you're really lucky, Chester the dog will be there to greet you too!


Had a fantastic time her last friday with my girlfriend, amazing cocktails and great service, def try and grab a seat at the bar. the barman are a great help. the menu is bold and well done. on top of that the guys on the bar can make you any original cocktail you like. can't wait to go back


cheers guys


Everybody knows whisky is the devil but I made it past row upon row, bottle upon bottle of the stuff in Milroy's to get to this place. I don't much like cocktails either to be honest, but the Black Beard I had here (it had rum and some other stuff in it) was lovely. I recommend.  


What a brilliant cocktail bar! It's hidden away at the back of Milroy's - a whisky shop I've know about for years but only been to once or twice. There's a real hidden-gem feel to this place as it's through a little secret door but once you're inside you realise what a great find it it - all dim lighting and a cool, speakeasy kinda vibe. The cocktails are great too - they did me one of the best Old Fashions I've ever had and the experimental ones are good too (my drinking buddy didn't agree with me on every one, though, but they're all down to personal preference I guess). Definitely making this one of my must-visit venues whenever I'm in Soho. Prices aren't bad either. Thanks for a great night guys!