Soho's diverse and colourful bars make the area a popular destination for nights out. Bar-hopping scenesters, often creating severe foot traffic in the evenings, might enjoy boundary-pushing cocktail bars or the area's late-night hot spots. Time Out presents a guide to the best Soho bars to save you the trouble of battling it out on the kerbs.
RECOMMENDED: Find more fun in the neighbourhood with our area guide to Soho
The best bars in Soho
This Greek Street wine and cocktail bar is a three-way project between experienced bar professionals, two from the cocktail side of things and one from the wine side. The ground floor is a wine bar, with a globetrotting list available by the glass, carafe or bottle. Unusual cocktails happen on the first floor, in a lovely warren of darkly lit rooms offering an assortment of seating options.
It’s quality cocktails in a lacklustre sky-high setting at Aqua Spirit. But it's a rooftop bar in Soho, so it's worth knowing about. The roof terraces are set awkwardly at the opposite end of the room to the lift entrance and can only be accessed by sashaying through the slick Japanese restaurant. It’s a shame the terrace doesn’t have the same chic international style as the dark, sexy interior bar, circular in shape and ideal for perching and people watching.
This wonderful bar occupies the hallowed ground that began life as Dick’s Bar, when Brasserie Zédel was the Atlantic Bar & Grill and the late, great Dick Bradsell was the man behind the bar. Zédel has installed a great crew, both behind the bar and front of house, though. And they’ve kept the beautiful art deco decor and the widely spaced tables, which are a major factor in keeping noise levels down even when the place is full. We love the brevity and simplicity of the cocktail list: just 18 drinks and most of them tried and tested classics.
When someone calls two people a ‘dream team’, the hype-detector lights up. But with Bar Termini, the DT moniker seems fitting. Bar Termini does two things: coffee and cocktails. Coffee is overseen by Marco Arrigo, head of quality for Illy, who has probably trained more baristas – and trained them rigorously – than anyone else in the UK. Cocktails are supervised by Tony Conigliaro, the alco-alchemist behind 69 Colebrooke Row and Zetter Town House, among others. Italian aperitivos and nightcaps are done very well indeed.
This Soho nightspot offers a compact list of cocktails, the promise of desserts, and a rota of DJs throughout the week. Half the menu lists ambitious desserts; the other half is a roster of hit and miss cocktails. Some are truly exceptional, others less so. Order the exceptional l’Entrée des Artistes, a milk-based rum and sherry cocktail infused with salted caramel and bitter notes of coffee.
Technically an upstairs adjunct to Jason Atherton’s celebrated Social Eating House, The Blind Pig is a worthy destination in its own right. It’s not immediately obvious how to find it at street level; look under the vintage ‘Optician’ sign for the blindfolded hog doorknocker and boom, you’re in. The decor is authentically retro but never schmaltzy and puns are employed with abandon on the cocktail menu: Slap ’n’ Pickle, Kindergarten Cup or Robin Hood, Quince of Thieves, anyone?
There are no great surprises in the styling of this latest Brewdog, it has the same prison-yard chainlink-and-concrete thing as the other bars. No surprises in the craft beer selection, either – it’s typically great. There’s something for the hesitant lager fan as well as the dedicated explorer of craft beer’s outer reaches. What is surprising at Brewdog Soho, however, was the food. It cements this bar’s position as more than just another post-work beerathon.
A quirky tube-themed cocktail bar that’s hot with tourists. It’s a little confused about what era it’s portraying but you’re not really looking for historical accuracy – Cahoots sure isn’t taking itself seriously. You’re allotted two hours of drinking time so book in advance. Our advice: ask for a seat in the carriage, the best spot in house, and save a trip for when friends visit from out of town.
Book a table here for date night and things are sure to smoulder (request a space in one of the plush pink booths for extra blushes). The basement bar has a slightly convoluted cocktail menu, but stick with classic martinis to feel classy-as-hell in what is mostly a pretty glam setting.
El Camion is Mexican-themed but, unlike the kitsch Baja Californian restaurant above, it’s more a discerning basement drinking den where Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) iconography sits above a series of snugs. It's a temple to tequila and rum, there’s swift and smiling table service, and it’s open late - what's not to like?
Find more of London's best bars
London is known the world over for its traditional pubs. But its quirky bars and top-drawer joints serving cocktails, wine, beer and beyond are just as worthy of your precious drinking time. So, to prove a point, Time Out has pulled together a list of London’s very best bars. Sit up at the bar at these rocking spots and order in a round you definitely won’t forget in a rush.