The Knowledge

Insider's Soho Bar Guide

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Soho bartenders recommend their own favourite haunts. 

Want to know where the Soho bartenders drink when they shut up shop, and what they're drinking while we're at it? We asked three of the best.

Nick Strangeway – Mark’s Bar (above)

Nick Strangeway is the man behind Soho’s most enticing cocktail list and its most salubrious subterranean drinking den. (Try saying that after two martinis.)

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You know your way round London’s drink scene. Is Soho really swinging again? Without doubt. It’s all about good drinks consumed in a rambunctious way; it’s not always civilized but it is always about having a good time. Eating and drinking intertwined with getting casually drunk. Ideally, you should always be slightly drunk in Soho.

What’s your tipple of choice of an evening? A negroni. You want a drink you don’t have to over-think, and this is really simple and really well balanced. Just mix equal parts of gin (I use Beefeater), vermouth (specifically Antica Formula Carpano) and Campari. Stir them together over ice.

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If you’re not mixing it, where else can you guarantee a good drink? You can’t fail in El Camion: it might not be the world’s greatest bar, but it’s run by Dick Bradsell, the best bartender (elcamion.co.uk).

66 Brewer Street, London W1F, +44 20 7292 3518, www.marksbar.co.uk

Carl Bradwell – Alphabet Bar

Carl Bradwell’s Soho institution has served drinks to a who’s who of Soho’s great and good for 15 years. And it’s going stronger than ever.

You’ve called time, we’re still thirsty where should we head? Ain’t Nothing But on Kingly Street: whether you’re in the mood to carry on partying or wind down, it’s always got the right drink and a good atmosphere (aintnothinbut.co.uk).

What’s your poison once the bar’s closed? I’ll mix myself an espresso martini. It takes your legs away and keeps your eyes open – like a grown-up Red Bull.

To make it pour 50ml Smirnoff Black, 1 shot of espresso (we get our coffee from Flat White on Berwick Street) and sugar syrup (to taste) into a shaker withplenty of ice. Shake hard – the more you mix it, the creamier it will be. Double strain into a chilled martini glass and garnish with a couple of coffee beans. Done right, it should look like Guinness.

61-63 Beak Street, London W1F, www.alphabet-bar.co.uk

Zachery Shelley – Graphic

Zach Shelley is the manager of Soho’s latest gin palace. In prime position on Golden Square, it's on the radar of tourists and locals alike.

Phew - Soho is heaving. Any tips for a relaxing drink?  Quo Vadis: definitely the spot for a sophisticated and classy cocktail away from the maddening crowds.

It’s midnight, you’ve packed up the bar – what are you drinking? By the the time we've packed up the bar, I just want somthing really simple: a decent G&T. We've got about 120 gins so there's always one that matches your mood. Personally I like a classic dry London spirit - Sipsmiths does the job - mixed with Fever Tree, loads of ice and a squeeze of lime. Getting the ratio of gin to tonic right is crucial: it should be about two to one (100ml tonic to 50ml gin), The tonic needs to be served on the side, too, so that when you pour it the aromas from the gin's botanicals are released. Job done.

4 Golden Square London W1F, +44 20 7287 9241, www.graphicbar.com

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