Speakeasy cocktails come to Chinatown

Tim Badham
WHILE the new year has already seen a fresh batch of new London openings, one of the most original happened just before Christmas with the small but extremely endearing Parisian import, the Experimental Cocktail Club (www.chinatownecc.com). Touching down in Chinatown, an unusual destination address for discerning cocktail aficionados, ECC is nestled innocuously amongst the dim sum fray of Gerrard Street. The door may be tricky to spot but their superb mixology talents are not. It features stunning and inventive cocktails in a funky, cool, speakeasy setting that you would expect in Shoreditch, or more likely New York or Paris. I’d highly recommend seeking it out if you can but a guest list policy does apply on busy nights.

Back to January and the Hart brothers have just unveiled the QV Bar (www.quovadissoho.co.uk) at the iconic Quo Vadis on Dean Street. They’ve kept style in the family with the classy ground floor bar’s look created by Sam and Eddie Hart’s interior designer mother. Having teamed up with Ketel One vodka, they offer smart cocktails and as you’d expect there’s also a tempting British bar menu. Open from noon ‘til midnight, the QV is a well turned-out and very welcome addition to the Soho scene – there’s even an oyster hour from 5.30pm.

Another new restaurant bar is ORA (www.orarestaurant.co.uk), just behind Oxford Circus on Little Portland Street. With dark woods and simple, contemporary lines this off-the-beaten track hangout is attracting a young and trendy crowd with high quality cocktails at reasonable prices.

If resolutions are broken and you’re already back to clubbing, look no further than the re-launch of the thoroughly wintery Aprés London (www.apreslondon.com) on Duke Street, next to Selfridges. This wooded ski lodge-style venue has a lively upstairs bar with outside space to boot, but the party really gets started downstairs in the late lounge when a well-heeled crowd come out to play. Door policy downstairs is much stricter but the emphasis is on a fun night for everyone inside. Champagne breakfasts from 4am will soon fill a missing central London niche.

Tim Badham is the founder of Innerplace, London’s leading providers of VIP entertainment, including film premieres, fashion shows, launch parties and members club access. www.innerplace.co.uk.