Swift Bar shows us the light & dark of London's cocktail scene
4 September 2018
If there was ever an A-team for London’s highly competitive cocktail scene, it would definitely be made up of the team behind Swift Bar in Soho. Like London’s very own cocktail tag-team, Nightjar’s Edmund Weil and Rosie Stimpson have teamed up with Milk & Honey’s Mia Johansson and Bobby Hiddleston, to create a new kind of cocktail destination in the heart of Soho. But unlike the 1988 cult classic, don’t expect a bottle slinging Tom Cruise to serve you up some cheeky martinis, nor any flashy bottle flipping here; just sleek design, great food, and some truly good cocktails. 

Taking over the former LAB site on Old Compton Street, Swift is a two storey bar that showcases the best of both the light and dark of Soho’s cocktail scene. Unlike other cocktail bars, Swift certainly lives up to its name, by serving great signature cocktails as swiftly as possible. Which makes sense, considering Bobby Hiddleston broke a world record by making 9 complicated cocktails in less than 90 seconds. Their facade is completely unassuming, so much so that even Soho natives might just miss it, but inside Swift  is definitely worth discovering. The set-up is pretty simple, but also quite revolutionary. Each space is seemingly designed around what’s on offer, a lighter motif to match the lighter drinks upstairs, and a richer darker motif to match the darker spirits downstairs. Upstairs is a standing bar serving champagne, oysters, and a short menu of light cocktails — perfect for a pre-theatre aperitif. There is a clear 1930s art deco motif running through both spaces, but each floor tackles the theme differently. Upstairs - bright lights, mirrors, and a cool colour palette create an ambiance that’s perfect for a glass of bubbly; although not one for settling in, the space was made to begin an evening, not to end it.

Downstairs is a completely different story. The 1930s aesthetic still rings through, but i.e. executed with deeper, warmer, tones. Lush leather booths, low lights, dark oak interiors, and darker tones permeate even to the darker spirits in the menu, which features an ever expanding selection of 250 different drams of whisky. Here, you can find a longer cocktail list filled with more time intensive recipes, inviting you to park yourself into one of their leather booths and stay a while. The small plates are equally indulgent; with steak tartare and crostini, as well as Guinness welsh rarebit. Pop in on Friday or Saturday night, and be treated to some live blues and jazz music. After a night of exploring London’s West End offerings, we highly recommend ending the evening here. We can assure you, you’d be hard done finding a better spot for a night-cap on a busy Friday night in Soho.
Words by Hannah Tan-Gillies

Here are a few other Less Ordinary Cocktail bars in Soho


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