“Cahoots is a glamorous cocktail bar where it don’t mean a thing if you ain’t got that swing.” Evening Standard
Can you keep a secret? Do you pinky swear not to tell a soul? Cahoots London, the post-war Britain drinking establishment located in a disused underground station is just awesome, but remember you didn’t hear that from me!
This late night underground forties themed joint is so popular right now that the only booking I could get before the other half returned to the desert was 6pm on a Monday night, seriously if you want a Friday night or weekend you have to book at least two months in advance! So what’s all the fuss about you might ask? Marked only by a ‘To the Trains’ sign, Cahoots offers an authentic experience that starts from when you encounter the cheeky doorman feigning the bar’s existence, let alone your booking. He then ushers you in, inviting you to descend the ‘apples and pears’ (stairs) which are designed to resemble the old wooden tube escalator.
It’s all a bit mysterious, you feel like you are involved in a conspiracy (after all that’s the meaning of Cahoots) of villainous proportions rather than on a night out, such fun! The glamorous 1940’s costume clad cloakroom lady takes your coats ushering you through where another chipper fellow asks ‘Are you here to see the captain?’ Yes, of course we are!
Even though it was early evening this speakeasy was chock-a-block with a continuous flow of people arriving to see the captain and our central table for four gave us a perfect position for people watching. What struck me is the attention to detail in this bar from the decor that includes a full size old-school underground carriage complete with original textiles, the forties accessories dotted around and how the staff, who are all dressed immaculately in clothes from the period, stay in character throughout. The theme continues with the drinks menu disguised as a four-page newspaper ‘The Kingly Court Herald’ which offers an extensive list of cocktails within its war-time ads, quirky headlines and articles as well as champagnes, wines, ales and lagers.
The Vera Lynn was very popular at our table from the Starlets and Sirens section, a gin based cocktail combined with ginger wine, apple, elderflower, pear and topped with fresh lime served in a khaki ceramic bust of the wartime singer herself, quirky right! I had a couple of Apples and Pears from the Scandalous Rogues and Cads section which blended Russian vodka with blackberry, lime, apple juice and ginger ale. Cocktails have the added bonus of being topped with pear drops, yes those hard delicious red and yellow boiled sweets which I happen to love! Other drinks were served in mismatched mugs, tankards and even milk bottles made by the busy bartenders at the platform bar which itself is adorned with masses of memorabilia along with battered vintage trunks and draped with bunting.
Feeling peckish? Not a problem just ask for the ration card (menu) that features food from the era including spam, salt beef, fish finger or crisp/salad cream sandwiches served in silver ration tins and my favourite crumpets and golden syrup. Not the biggest portions or my usual accompaniment to cocktails but it’s not about the food at Cahoots. The theme continued with authentic signs in the corridors, piped announcements in the bathroom where a well spoken fella was translating cockney rhyming slang and wartime posters line the walls warning of syphilis.
Cahoots is not just an illicit Soho drinking den but has holds many events in keeping with the era such as swing dancing and sing-a-longs around an old piano, inspired by actual events that occurred in post-war Britain. Cahoots is owned by Inception Group which was founded by entrepreneurs Charlie Gilkes and Duncan Stirling who operates unique bars, restaurants and clubs in London, including (among others) Mr Foggs of Mayfair based on the travels of Phileas Fogg and his ‘Around the World in 80 Days’ adventures and Maggie’s nightclub a 1980s themed boutique club that pays tribute to former Prime-Minister Maggie Thatcher (so on my to do list especially the Club Tropicana night).
Cahoots is rather spiffing and everything is just so charming and fabulous. If you are in London and fancy a good old knees up I recommend you pay a visit so you can enjoy being transported to post-war Britain for yourself. Remember you MUST book online in advance (or by telephone) and expect to wait if you want the weekend or a normal evening time (7pm – 9pm). But remember most importantly old bean that you have to keep it under your hat!
Location: KIngly Court, Soho
Telephone: 020 7352 6200
Website: www.cahoots-london.com (visit the website for more information and online booking)
Opening Hours: Monday – Wednesday 5pm – 1am, Thursday & Friday 5pm – 2am, Saturday 5pm – 3am, Sunday 5pm – Midnight
Unless otherwise stated, all photos on this page © Jo Brett 2015. All rights reserved. Photos three, five and additional information used courtesy of inception-group.com