The first time I went to Cahoots, I remember being giddily excited to finally be visiting one of London’s worst kept secrets. A colleague at work had used her rather labyrinthine network of contacts, calling upon a friend of a friend of a friend who knew the manager, to wangle us a prime time table – usually booked up months in advance.
After speaking the magic words “I’m here to see the Captain”, as I had been instructed, I was ushered inside and made my way down a flight of stairs and through a maze of doors into the bar, where I found my friend reading the paper. Unusual for her. Little did I know, she was not catching up on the news – the newspaper was the menu.
Had I been around during the prohibition, I can imagine having passed many an evening sipping on blackmarket liquor in an underground tavern quite like Cahoots. Energetic waiters and cocktail makers craft an evening of raucous entertainment paired with swinging live music and eclectic cocktails by candlelight.
The list of cocktails is extensive, and the list of ingredient in each concoction more so still! But the bar staff know the menu inside out and can recommend a drink you’re sure to love. And if none of the cocktails take your fancy – although highly unlikely – the excellent mixologists are on hand to knock up a bespoke beverage. Tell them your favourite spirit and whether you like your cocktails fruity or spicy, strong or long, and they’ll be back in a jiffy with just the tipple to tickle your tastebuds.
The cocktails not only taste sublime, but look fantastic too, served in old mugs, dinky painted teacups, hip flasks, vintage milk bottles and grand chalices that look more like an ornament pinched from your grandmother’s shelf than a drinking vessel.
I started off with a fairly safe choice from the Starlets and Sirens section of the menu – the Gracie Fields (£9.00) a champagne-based creation made with Ketel One vodka, lime juice and rose liqueur. The champagne foam was deliciously sweet, while the cloudy lime green liquid beneath was crisp and tart.
My next choice was slightly more wild – the Give Peas A Chance (£10.00), which is made with vodka flavoured with basil and garden peas of all things, and topped off with Moet & Chandon Brut Imperial NV champagne. This drink was masterfully balanced, the sweetness offset with fresh and fragrant basil, and earthy peas.
A surprising favourite of mine was a cocktail inspired by the quintessentially British roast potato. A sharp citrus flavour and glug of gin is masterfully infused with herby rosemary, and the glass crowned with a crisp roasted potato – certainly the first time I have seen spuds raised to the sophisticated heights of the martini olive or maraschino cherry.
Feeling peckish? Cahoots have pooled their rations and managed to scramble together spam sarnies, cheese toasties, sausage rolls, and even an olive or two, all served in soldiers’ tins.
13 Kingly Court,
T: 020 7352 6200
Open 17:00-01:00 Mon-Wed; 16:00-02:00 Thurs & Fri; 13:00-03:00 Sat; 15:00-00:00 Sun