Sitting opposite the highly-rated Bocca di Lupo Italian restaurant on the street that provides the inspiration for its name, Archer Street is a smart new two-level cocktail bar offering a comfy townhouse vibe on the ground floor and the potential for late night partying in the plush basement below.
Archer Street actually list themselves as being residents of South Soho, but for most people this is little side street which provides welcome relief from the jarring human traffic on Shaftesbury Avenue. The owners have taken over from Barcode, a gay venue that was more interested in debauched partying than pimped-out cocktails and they’ve gone to work with a stylish new interior that includes white painted panelled walls, plush velvet armchairs and sofas, and bespoke filament light features that emit an amber glow in front of the pretty French windows. It’s the sort of place you could quite happily lose a few hours working through the drinks menu and watching the goings on outside on the street.
Downstairs, you’ll find a plush party basement with decks and two booths carved into the walls complete with ice buckets and moody lighting. This isn’t open all the time but it has everything required to be the scene of some messy late night affairs.
Word travels fast in this part of town and Archer Street is doing a brisk trade with a savvy crowd of local meeja and music industry heads, as well as those looking for a less hectic option than some of the other bars nearby with their deep queues. The music isn’t quite fine-tuned as yet – you may hear the cheese-tastic sounds of Lionel Richie’s Hello not once but twice in the space of a cocktail or two. A DJ takes to the decks later on and it must be like playing in someone’s living room (albeit in a posh house) given the surroundings, but crowd-pleasers from the Jackson 5 and Stevie Wonder keep heads nodding.
During the early evening (5-7pm), platters of cheese or cured meats are available to keep the hunger pangs away. The cheese is of particularly good quality.
Archer Street pitches itself as a high-end cocktail bar, and prices reflect this – they’re £10.50 a pop. As a result you’ll find premium spirits and remixes of classic concoctions. Most drinks justify the premium prices although a couple may require some fine-tuning. Good ones include the Bulliet in the Afternoon, a refreshing blend of Bulliet bourbon, pomegranate juice, Lapsang Souchong syrup and fresh cucumber served over crushed ice. The Black Mint Charger also hits the mark; its mix of Pampero Especial rum, blackberry puree, fresh lime, mint and sugar topped with dandelion and burdock creates a pleasantly sweet, syrupy consistency which the fruit and lime cuts through nicely. Less agreeable is the Rhubarb and Rasberry Sling, a long drink using Ketel One vodka as it base spirit, which has an odd aftertaste due to the fruit flavours clashing with the addition of coconut water and lemon.
Bottles of wine start from £25, bottled lager £5.50 and spirits £8. The addition of a couple of bottled real ales to the beer list would be a good move.
The Last Word
From touristy party venues to smart bolt holes, clandestine cocktail bars and hedonistic gay bars, Soho has something for practically every occasion. Archer Street is definitely pitched at the smarter end of things, with prices reflecting this, and by offering table service and tabs, it’s definitely a destination worth seeking out if you don’t want to have to use your elbows everytime you need to get to the bar.