Do you hanker for the halcyon days of mess-tin rationing and Luftwaffe bombardment? Is modern London getting you down? We may have uncovered just the place for you… Just off the hustle and bustle of Carnaby Street is a sign that reads ‘To the Trains’. If you can spot it straight away then you’re a better woman than I. I spent the best part of 15 minutes staring blankly into space and scaring foreign tourists, hoping it would materialise before me. But then again, I am terribly bad at seeing. Though it seems to lead nowhere, it’s there for a reason, as the ‘secret’ sign-post to Cahoots, London’s newest nostalgia themed bar.
For all the world-weary London poseurs, who hanker after a time before they were a twinkle in their Grandaddy’s eye, Cahoots is most definitely the place to be seen… or so they say. I had heard whispers of waiting lists, secret signals, and underground tunnels. The truth is a little anti-climatic, upon booking (essential) you are given a password and set of instructions advising you not to draw attention to the establishment by lurking outside the door. Ever the most despicably punctual person in London, it was probably a good job I couldn’t find the bloody sign. I won’t say much more about getting in, as the secrecy of the ritual is its charm. I imagine a much happier and generally more optimistic person, would find the whole charade utterly agreeable, my drinking companion certainly did. Once you’re in though, Cahoots really comes alive. Decked out like an olde worlde wartime tube station, resplendent in oak panelling and thick red velvet curtains draped over an old fashioned ticket office, it certainly is a curiosity.
What Cahoots does well (reminiscing about the ‘Great British past’) it Cahoots By Emily Eaton does really well. Including the full size railway carriage inside the bar area. The drinks are delicious and there is something for everyone, and the staff (all kitted out to the 1940s nines) have old-fashioned manners to match their outfits and are generous with their time and recommendations to make sure you get what you’re looking for. I highly recommend the Dunkin’ for Apples (£11) cocktail, with cloudy apple juice and homemade salted caramel syrup. I also tried a Spicy Rupee (£9) that will knock your socks off. I know it’s not cheap, but the extra cost is worth it just for the setting. And to my utter delight, unlike almost everywhere else in London right now, Cahoots are not trying to jam a burger down your throat. They stay faithful to their theme and manage to make Spam sandwiches (yes, Spam, you heard me) into something you could actually imagine yourself eating. Although the price for what is essentially a jazzed up £1 snack might be slightly harder to swallow. It may not be to everyone’s taste, and there are a lot of these ‘themed’ establishments popping up throughout the city right now. Luckily for them, Cahoots does it well. Oh and the music is ace too!
13 Kingly Court, London W1B 5PG 020 7352 6200