The Cocktail Trading Co, Soho
This tiny basement bar tucked underneath Soho’s Central & Co is refreshingly easy to find. Unlike so many of Soho’s drinking dens you don’t need to mutter a secret password, push past a false bookshelf or rap three times on a portrait of Dorian Gray. The bar is small but perfectly formed, the polished wood, red velvet curtains and cupboards of curios give it a speakeasy vibe without the annoying artifice. Which is a good thing because the hot shots behind this place know that there is a fine line between gimmickry and artistry.
The cocktails are incredibly innovative and are served by some of the friendliest bartenders I’ve ever come across. There is a cocktail for everyone, and I recommend working your way through the whole list. The Tu-Whit-Tu-Whoo-Woo was a favourite, an adorably playful twist on a girly classic, Stoli vodka with peach-infused cranberry syrup, topped up with Prosecco and served with candy floss. Scout’s Honour and Have A Nice Day are also real winners. The presentation is also fantastic; the show stopper is served in a Chinese take-out box, complete with chopsticks and garnished with bacon noodles. All of this gimmickry works a charm because the drinks are also expertly crafted and can hold their own amongst all that fizz.
This is a perfect spot to dive into for one quick drink and end up staying for hours. Arrive early, or book because you definitely want a table. Hunker down and let the silliness begin, as the night goes on the tunes get bigger, and you can even control the lighting at your table with a crafty dimmer switch.
It can get busy and pretty loud, but that’s just a good excuse to snuggle up to your date.