Carnaby’s drinking scene is nothing if not varied. With cool cocktail bars, underground speakeasies, historic pubs and everything in between, the beating heart of London’s hospitality scene is as much about the drinks as it is the food. To hear more about where to find the best in town, read on:
Carnaby is awash with great drinking options. Head to Kingly Street for an array of bars and pubs to suit all tastes, or into the covered yet airy Kingly Court itself for open plan eating and drinking.
Historically, the area has been known for its pubs, with The White Horse a firm locals favourite. This 18th century staple has original Art Deco interiors, stained glass pub signs and wood panelling dating back to the 1930s. The unique and characterful pub is located on cobbled Newburgh Street, and is known as much for its vast range of guest ales and bottled beers as its drinks on tap.
Cocktails are king in Carnaby too, and you can try all the latest trends at Disrepute, a bar and drinking den inspired by the 1960s counterculture that made Carnaby what it is today. It’s a moodily-lit basement bar with leather booths and turquoise velvet banquettes. “Narrative Cocktails” named things like “Scandal and Espionage” or “Indecent exposure” are inspired by characters and stories from Soho’s heyday.
If you liked the hideaway vibe at Disrepute, you’ll love Cahoots, which travels back even further to the 1940s. Once inside you’ll find yourself immersed in what looks like an abandoned train station. A post-war inspired bar menu has cocktails served in vintage milk bottles, hip flasks and tins, with favourites including the Scoundrels’ Old Fashioned and Grandma’s Rhubarb Raspberry Crumble. If you can’t make it there in person, they also deliver ‘emergency cocktail rations’ nationwide.
For more of a New York vibe, try Soho Grind. It’s an espresso bar by day, turning into an oh-so-cool basement bar by night. The caffeine theme runs through the cocktail offering too, with various Espresso Martinis, (Flat) White Russians and Espresso Old Fashioned gracing the menu.
Drinks can be the whole event if you plonk yourself in Carnaby’s stand-alone bars, or simply a snifter before dinner. For the latter, check out the cocktail menu at Dishoom, where the flavours of Mumbai’s Iranian cafes extend to a winning cocktail list. Drinks here are about far more than just killing time while you’re waiting for your table: try a The Hoppy Punch – made with an intoxicatingly sweet mixture of Johnnie Walker and honey, and topped with an IPA foam – and almost certainly you’ll agree with us.
As for wine, head to Bar Crispin on Kingly Street to discover an all-day natural wine bar, serving the very best low-intervention and biodynamic wines with a selection of small plates to go with.
Check out more ideas for Carnaby by Night, including al fresco spots and exciting newcomers.