Cocktail hour ~ Experimental Cocktail Club, Soho Chinatown

The Experimental Cocktail Club is a bar I’ve been meaning to try ever since I read a review in Stylist magazine in the run up to Christmas last year. Time swept away with me since but as I’m completely buying into the 1920s era, one of this year’s major trends, this speakeasy cocktail bar seemed a nice follow up to the Candlelight Club.


You’ll find it on Gerrard Street, one of Chinatown’s busiest streets.  The nature of a speakeasy bar is that it’s meant to be hard to find, but I’ve been reading a few reviews of late so for us it was disappointingly easy.  My clue – keep an eye out for the unmarked door as it appears on their website.


Once you step inside, the entrance staircase takes you up to a cosy candlelit cocktail bar over two levels, bare-bricked walls contrast draping curtains and an eclectic mix of chairs.  The Jazz playing out from the DJ set made it a great atmosphere for a Friday unwind and an enjoyable cocktail.  Romee de Goriainoff, one of it’s French founders, described it as “an unofficial members club” (Wall Street Journal) which may explain the pricey cocktails that start at £11 each (and end at £250!).  They also have an interesting reservation policy where only 50% of the tables can be reserved, leaving the other 50% for passers-by.


The cocktail menu did highlight an experiment of names and ingredients, I went for the ‘Kota Ternate’ a mix of rum, spiced tea, coconut, pineapple and lime juice. I was quite surprised to be handed what looked like a medicine bottle and advised to shake it before pouring over a glass of ice. It went down very well indeed, an unusual but enjoyable smooth concoction.

Credit - Jean Cazals for Wall Street Journal

Credit - Jean Cazals for Wall Street Journal

 The bar staff were pleasant but as we hadn’t reserved a table (silly on a Friday night I know), not being able to stand after a long week at work got a bit frustrating. This was made worse by being turfed out of the seats we finally got hold of by a rather rude doorman claiming we were causing a fire exit hazard.  As we were paying a lot for drinks, and on top of that a service charge, I think we could have been moved in a more friendly manner.

Despite the frustrations I would still recommend going along to try it out as it is an experience, I would book to ensure a table unless you’re stopping by during the week (where tables may be available)  or for a short drink and are happy to stand.

I’d be intrigued to hear other peoples views on this bar, so if you’ve been or you visit following this review comment below!


  1. FionnersG
    March 19, 2012 / 9:09 pm

    I experienced something similar myself but unlike you won’t go back there. Their door policy is exhausting and not conducive to dropping in for a drink, like many other bars. If they want to be so exclusive at least start a membership or something similar. Or put someone in charge of the door who runs it better.

  2. ThisCityLifeLondon
    March 19, 2012 / 9:19 pm

    I think we must have been lucky on entry as we followed someone in! It seems no one can avoid the experience of the doormen. Agree that they need to sort the membership style or entry staff! Maybe the unofficial membership club doesn’t work so well…