Soho's diverse and colourful bars and pubs 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 bend an elbow. Know a better bar in Soho? Then let us know in the comments box below or tweet your suggestions. And don't forget to check out our pick of the best Soho pubs and clubs.
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.
A basement bar dispensing drinks to a tiny crowd: Company Below offers room for just 25 covers in all, in a miniscule space of which nearly half is occupied by the bar. It’s so small it feels more like someone’s home bar than a professional one. But you won’t often find drinks at home like those on offer here. Original creations include the refreshing Gin Dilla: gin, dill, lemon, elderflower liqueur and cucumber.
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
Searching for the best bars and pubs in London? You're in the right place. The capital's drinking scene is one of the best in the world, with boundary-breaking cocktail bars taking mixed drinks to the next level, while traditional pubs bring you back down to earth in the best possible way. Should you be looking for the perfect pint or a cocktail beyond comprehension, our critics have rounded up their favourite bars and pubs across the capital on Time Out’s list of the 100 best bars and pubs in London. Bottoms up!
No prizes for guessing why this cocktail bar at the Sanderson hotel is so called: it's 80ft in length, so we reckon it earns its tag. It's open to hotel guests and visitors, and you can take drinks to the good-looking courtyard should all the bar stools be taken. It's mostly about the cocktails. The list includes a tropical caipiroska (Belvedere vodka, Passoa, passion fruit, lime and mango), a sucette (Belvedere raspberry vodka, strawberry and passion fruit) and a Sanderson, made with Beefeater gin, lychee juice, melon liqueur, lime and Aperol. Champagne from well-known houses also features. A small selection of bar bites also features, ranging from crispy calamari, spiced chicken wings and smoked salmon scotch eggs to burgers, club sandwiches, a triple-cheese toastie and a salt beef bap.