Review: Swift Soho
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Review: Swift Soho

We pay a visit to London's best bar

Soho is one of London’s most bustling and vibrant neighbourhoods. Packed with bars, restaurants, theatres and exclusive clubs, it’s a thriving cultural hub. It’s here that you’ll find London’s best bar – as named in this year’s Top 50 Cocktail Bars List – Swift Soho, sitting in a prime position on a central passage, running parallel to Shaftesbury Avenue. Buzzing and trendy, there’s a lively atmosphere and friendly, attentive staff. It’s the perfect spot for a catch up with friends or an intimate date. 

Review: Swift Soho

Swift Soho

© Addie Chinn

There’s an electric atmosphere on and around Old Compton Street; throughout the week and late into the evenings it buzzes with life. Even though it’s February, there are still plenty of people drinking alfresco, albeit huddled in thick coats; groups of stylish twenty-somethings totter between bars; middle-aged couples stroll hand-in-hand discussing a theatre performance; tourists stop every few steps to snap photos; individuals slink into private clubs or discreet speakeasies.

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eden swift soho cocktail

Hemingway ‘Eden’ cocktail

Swift Soho is positioned nearer the Leicester Square end. It’s easy to spot, thanks to the long queue outside; it’s nearly impossible to get a walk-in. This isn’t surprising: it was recently voted London’s best bar and boasts a high place on the world’s best bars list. On our first visit, Swift Soho definitely lives up to its accolades.

Inside, it’s dimly lit, with warm glowing cylinder lamps hanging on the walls, and yellow candles positioned on each table. Upstairs there’s bar seating, but you’ll want to sit downstairs, if you can. Here, you’ll find dark wood panelling lining sandy coloured wall designs, above comfortable leather booths and round tables.

Swift Soho downstairs interior

© Addie Chinn

While all the classics are on offer, it’s the newly launched Legends menu which is the real piece-de-resistance – Swift’s USP. Celebrating creative thinkers and creative drinkers, they’ve concocted a series of special cocktails, each created with a legend in mind who has added to drinking culture in some way. It makes choosing your drink more fun, and transforms the cocktail from just a combination of flavours into an immersive experience, evoking characters and their stories – real or imagined.

Snoop Dogg cocktail swift sohoWith an impressive 19 options on offer, it’s seriously hard to choose between them. Featuring icons from Carmen Miranda to the Queen Mother, Oscar Wilde to Nigella, we finally opted for the cocktails inspired by Hemingway, Snoop Dogg, Ian Fleming and Absolutely Fabulous.

The Snoop Dogg is a lighter, fresher and creamier take on the Pina Colada: the ultimate relaxation beach cocktail. Hemingway’s ‘Eden’ cocktail, meanwhile, is silky and rich. You could easily imagine this drink – which incorporates absinthe – being a firm favourite of the American author, who spent much of his time writing his novels while slumped at one end of a Parisian bar.

Ab Fab swift soho

The next drink, inspired by the regularly sloshed queens, is delicious and sharp. Ab Fab’s ‘Only in L.A.’ is a long drink which blends the zingy and fruity flavours of vodka, martini rubio, prosecco, blackberry and lemon. Our overall favourite, though, was Ian Fleming’s ‘Sandhurst’. Made with Japanese whiskey, Zubrowka, lemon, chai and Aecorn aperitif – the spicy and warming flavours of chai and whiskey make for a tantalising experience.

cocktail drink ian fleming

Ian Fleming ‘Sandhurst’ cocktail

So impressed by the whiskey – Swift’s speciality – we decided we must try another. Their menu is impressive and extensive, offering over 300 whiskies from around the world. We opted for an Irish coffee. It arrived sweet, warm and creamy with a nutmeg dusting: the perfect night cap and an ideal drink for a cold wintry evening, leaving us feeling cosy and deliciously satisfied.

Irish coffee

Final Word

Swift Soho makes for a lovely evening out. There’s good music, excellent drinks and attentive, friendly staff. Open every day from 3pm-12am (10:30pm on Sundays), there are plenty of bars and clubs nearby if you can’t drag yourself home after – Ronnie Scott’s is only a stone’s throw away…

Book: barswift.com

Featured Image: © Addie Chinn

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