Speakeasy


The Vault Soho bar verified

London

5 / 5

May 11, 2018

A inconspicuous London cocktail bar, hidden behind a bookcase in the oldest whiskey shop in the city (Milroy’s of Soho).

Go inside, past the whiskey officiandos at Milroy’s sniffing at the golden liquids on high stools, beeline it for the bookcase and give it a push. It opens up into a blue neon-lit hallway, and down you go, into this basement candlelit cocktail den – The Vault.

Stripped back decor (think exposed brick walls and dark woods), it’s a cool and broody space. Here Chris Tanner heads up the bar, a talented, patient bartender, a trait very much required for the tight spaces and limited room to manoeuvre in this small space, which is almost always fully packed, with cocktail orders coming in thick and fast throughout the night… always book ahead, or turn up early to avoid disappointment.

Like upstairs, whiskey is the focus here, with bottles from across the globe, served straight up, and mixed into both complex and classic cocktails, they do a banging Old Fashioned. But if that’s not your scene don’t fret, they have a load of other tasty non-whisky drinks if you don’t dig the drams.

Our current fave is the Free Fall, an unusual mix of smokey and tropical fruit, made with Aquavit, Mezcal, Apricot, Fino and lemon – with the juicy fruitless perfectly balanced out with the smokiness of the mezcal and the dry crispness of the sherry.

The signature serve is the Smoking Gun, involving a burning pile of cherry wood dwindling into a martini glass, to be filled with corn whisky, oloroso sherry and Earl Grey. Super strong and (surprise!) smokey – it’s sure not an entry-level drink.

Our favourite night to drop by is a Monday, an intimate evening with live jazz filling the bar. Most often, every seat is filled – despite it being, well a Monday. This means the same old rule applies throughout the week – reserve your spot, we won’t say it again.

This speakeasy bar was a shortly lived Soho secret, until word quickly got out, The Vault is now famed across town for its James-bond-style entrance. But realise it’s far more than a gimmicky bookcase door – the ambience, the bar team and cocktails all make for a killer boozy bunker.

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