If you like your tequila on the sly, head on down to the Pink Chihuahua underneath Soho’s Mexican restaurant El Camion. Here you’ll find one of the few members’ bars where anything goes.
Formerly known as the Baja Room, this subterranean tequila joint underneath El Camion is now operating under the guise of The Pink Chihuahua. It’s a member’s bar to use the phrase loosely, since those who ask nicely are able to leave their name at the unmarked side door and enter with caution down the perilous stairs. Think Dia de los Muertos and you’re along the right lines when it comes to the décor down here, with ram and cow skulls sprouting red and pink flowers along the walls. A few more floral embellishments along with multi-coloured fairy lights are found above the bar, which is fitted with slate and covered by the menu scrawled on it in white chalk. To the rear, two cavernous alcoves are ideal for group parties to nestle into with a bottle of tequila and shot glasses. These tequilas are held in a side display cupboard and there’s a gobsmacking array of vintage bottles to feast your eyes on.
This is the definition of secretive Soho, with only those in the know venturing down to The Pink Chihuahua. The bar is presided over by cocktail legend – we don’t use the phrase lightly – Dick Bradsell and is named after his famous concoction of Altos Blancos tequila, lime, pomegranate, orgeat syrup and egg white. Sometimes you may even catch the man himself shaking things up behind the bar. Other bar staff are wild and wear colourful clothing and quirky facial hair, and the fun-time feeling is infectious. As is inevitable in Soho, there is typically an after work buzz about the place, and smart shirts and loosened ties are never out of place despite the laid-back Mexican vibe and frenzied movement on the small dance floor. Yet the bar has existed here over the years in relative peace and quiet, holding on to its secret status as much as possible.
Tequilas, mezcales, batidas, Margaritas, Daiquiris… all bases are covered at this basement bar. Over 300 tequilas are stocked by The Pink Chihuahua, so you can skim the surface with a shaken drink or sup on the best anejos, blancos and reposados straight from the bottle. They come with a red sangrita rather than the salt and lemon or lime you may be accustomed to, and shots start at £3.50. A whopping Margarita menu holds several variations on the classic, all with freshly squeezed lime juice for true authenticity. For the San Francisco twist on things, the Tommy’s Margarita (£8.50) takes the edge off with agave syrup, or sweeter still is an Apricot Jam Margarita (£8.50).
Moving away from tequila, those with more of a sweet tooth can peruse the list of batidas – milkshakes, in other words. At £8.95 each, all have a cachaca base and use condensed milk for the desired creaminess. Tropical flavours like coconut, passion fruit and pineapple dominate. And quality persists on the Daiquiri menu too, with Havana Club 3yr old rum given preference. Drifting away from the South American influence, a short menu of classics is affectionately dubbed ‘Gringas’ (Latin American slang for ‘foreigner’) and includes a Whisky Sour and Cosmopolitan in its midst.
The Last Word
The Pink Chihuahua is hardly your typical member’s bar, with people letting loose on the tequila and getting down on the dance floor. This Mexican mayhem can feel like the real deal after a batida or two.