Located on Central London’s Greek Street, there is a speakeasy style hidden cocktail bar in the basement of Milroy’s of Soho. QH sneaked through a secret doorway to discover The Vault under London’s oldest whisky shop…
Walking through the ground floor of Milroy’s of Soho, I interrupt a whisky tasting excusing myself through the narrow walkway full of men sipping rich coloured whiskies in small delicate tumblers. The walls of the whisky shop are full with magnificent bottles, encased in glass fronted dark wood cabinets, with large barrels clinging to the walls.
Reaching the end of the room I come to a dead end, a wall of books stop my path. Thankfully, I have seen enough murder mysteries to know when there is a secret doorway and a heavy push against the books reveals a hidden passage. Descending deeper down the dark staircase I find a cosy candle lit den, with low ceilings and an enchantingly warm atmosphere. Greeted by an inquisitive Jack Russell, I make my way to sit at the bar.
The gentleman behind the bar wastes no time asking what I like and soon directs me to try one of the harder cocktails. The man in question turns out to be owner Martyn "Simo" Simpsons, a no fuss friendly guy who, at once, puts you at ease with tales of the whiskies housed on the premises.
Milroy’s has a rich history as London’s oldest existing whisky specialist, selling a selection from around the world as well as their own-branded bottles. As a successful entrepreneur, Simo took over the shop and re-launched the space in March this year – extending its offering to include the hide-away bar, which he regularly works behind. Simo’s other successful ventures include Space No9 in Shoreditch, Coal Vaults on Wardour Street and a construction company.
Don’t be fooled by The Vault’s expertise in whisky, quality spirits are a plenty at the bar and allow for a diverse menu of handcrafted cocktails. Simo offers me a taste of a special rye gin made distilled in Finland, aged in whisky barrels for three years. The taste explodes in my mouth leaving behind the aromatic smoky flavour. After the taster I am ready for a cocktail.
The first to arrive is the London’s Burning, which involves a blowtorch to complete - this is serious stuff. The finished cocktail is a dark masculine orange with smoke bellowing from the rim of the glass, with a powerful taste from the mix of ceder and peach infused bourbon with peychaud bitters.
Next I try The Simo, seems rude not to, made with straight rye single barrel whisky, maraschino liqueur with a sweet and sour cherry taste, a light dry Vermouth, topped with orange and Angostura aromatic bitters, finished with a cherry. A winning combination forming part of the current summer menu. When the summer ends (lets face it, it pretty much has in London), Simo will be introducing a winter menu which he promises will excite drinkers with spices and flavours from around the world.
Those visiting the bar with a group of friends can make their experience even more secretive in the private ‘Barrel Room’, shaped as it’s named, with enough space to seat 12 people - tucked away at the back of The Vault.
On a rainy evening in Central London, The Vault is a must try to escape the wet cobbles of the roads above and to warm up with a flame lit cocktail.
Milroy’s Of Soho and The Vault
3, Greek Street,
London W1D 4NX
QH COCKTAIL REVIEW:
The Vault at Milroy's of Soho
by Calum Donoghue, 16 August 2015