From the street, you’d never guess that the interior is as huge as it is - and, unless you’re of a certain age, you may not even be aware that it was once the site of one of London’s most legendary nightspots: The Marquee Club, where icons like Jimi Hendrix, The Rolling Stones and David Bowie performed.
The decor has me hooked immediately - make your way past the Tanqueray Blossom City garden, which is in place until the end of August, and the cascades of flowers give way to dark sophistication - a luscious combination of old-school gentleman’s club and Moroccan souk. It’s all buttery leather chairs, dark wood against cool polished concrete and marble effect, bold print wallpaper and tribal patterns while, at the back of the room, the Playroom features industrial lighting over a pool table with armchairs and carefully curated displays of books and curios giving the space the air of a room in a stately home. Taking centre stage, the 360-degree bar is topped by an incredible glass installation, which lends more than a bit of ‘beam me up’ to the proceedings. The restaurant, downstairs, is one of the few Soho institutions to serve food until the wee hours; it’s presided over by chef Jonas Karlsson and plays host to DJs and live music five nights a week.
By day, this is just as much a working space - bear witness to the cables suspended from the ceiling above some of the tables to ensure you never run out of juice - as it is a spot to escape from the relentless pace of Soho with a couple of frames of pool or a relaxed bite. It’s cool yet not pretentious; the staff are warm, the service, attentive and the music is set at a volume that enhances rather than overpowers the atmosphere. Return by night, and you’ll see slickly suited power-mongers accompanied by designer label clad women, as well as attractively styled groups and couples getting warmed up for a night out.
Recalling a glorious past that predates The Marquee Club, the new cocktail menu at 100 Wardour St has been designed by Bar Manager Massimo Bosio and his team with the excitement and elegance of bygone eras in mind. ‘The Golden Era’ takes us back to pre-Prohibition America, right back to the publication of Dr. Jerry Thomas’ cocktail book in 1862, with tipples like 'Brown Derby' - a concoction of Maker’s Mark Bourbon, grapefruit and honey - and 'Milk Punch', which combines Ysabela Regina Brandy, Gosling Dark Rum, Vanilla and Milk. Or get your beach party vibe on with selections from 'It’s Tiki Time' - think rums and fruity flavours.
Cocktail experts tend to say that the 80s and 90s were the worst era for cocktails, but that’s probably because they never felt incredible in a pair of gold shiny hot pants - and if that’s your thing, then boogie on down for a 'Baby Steps,' a deliciously frivolous combo of gin, elderflower, mixed green puree and bubbles. And for almost-purists? The 'Back to the Future' selection takes on some of the most classic cocktails, like the Negroni and Cloud No.9, and gives them a modern twist. Fear of commitment? A set of three sharing cocktails is available for those for whom decision making proves tricky.
Considering its central location and heady beginnings, 100 Wardour St prices its cocktails in the very reasonable £12-£16 range - and the bar snacks menu, for those who don’t want to head downstairs to the restaurant, will keep you pleasantly sated. With slick service and plenty of decorative eye candy to get your style inspo fix, this venue hits the sweet spot not often achieved by London venues: stylish bolthole by day, and a place where you could very happily both start and end your night.
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