Bitter Sweet, 4 Kingly Court, London, W1B 5PW
Firstly I’d like to apologise to all concerned for my tardiness in writing this post. Christmas, illness and a very busy January has kept me away from my keyboard! The reason I’ve mentioned this is because when this private member’s club first opened it was billed as Soho’s newest cocktail bar, not quite sure if this is still the case.
Bitter Sweet is tucked away in Kingly Court just off Carnaby Street, specialising in bespoke cocktails concentrating on bitter and sweet flavours. Using various bitters, created from a blend of herbs, fruits and spices, just the slightest dash of these will bring out all the flavours together and take Bitter Sweet‘s cocktails to another level.
Located where The Kingly Club (known as the ‘haunt of the rich and infamous’) used to be. And before that, in the swinging sixties, it was known as The Pinstripe Club, attracting stars such as Oliver Reed, Steve McQueen, George Best, Richard Harris, Audrey Hepburn, and even Marilyn Monroe. The Pinstripe Club was closed down as a result of the 1963 Profumo scandal, where secretary of state for War John Porfumo was forced to resign over allegations he covered up an affair with Christine Keeler, the mistress of a Russian spy at the height of the Cold War.
Back to the here and now… The bar is in a basement so keep your eyes peeled for the fairly subtle entrance (it’s next to a beauty salon). The doorman explained to us about the private members policy, but if you get there early enough you can sign up there and then. Although it is best to sign up online to get extra benefits, like a free monthly cocktail and a birthday treat.
The decor is, as you would expect, very decadent with a generous sprinkling of bling. In fact, once downstairs you walk through a golden tunnel into the main bar. It’s a long thin space with a couple of booths, one silver and one pink. A word of advice it’s alway best to reserve an area especially if you want to sit in a booth.
The cocktails were all fantastic, we tried six different ones and the favourites were the Hendricks sparkle – Hendricks Gin, lemon juice, fresh cucumber and Prosecco. And the Mr. Marmalade – Grand Marnier, Mandarin Napoleon, orange marmalade, Campari, Angostura and orange bitters. We also loved The Affair – Fresh passion fruit juice, mango juice, a hint of chilli, Plymouth Gin, Passoa, lemon juice and orange bitters and The Pinstripe – Absolut raspberry vodka, Chambord liqueur, honey, fresh mint, lime and cranberry juice. Both obviously tipping a very big nod to the club’s history.
The drinks are split into four sections, Bitter Sweets £9, Signature £9, Modern Classics £8.50 and Classics £9. But don’t worry, if you don’t like cocktails Bitter Sweet also has a good little selection of wines, champagnes, beers and spirits. Plus the cherry on the cake, or should that be the glacé cherry in the glass, is the very generous happy hour… Half price Bitter Sweets’ and Signature cocktails, half-price bottles of wine, Asahi Beer for £2.50 and £10 off bottles of Champagne. (Sunday to Thursday 5pm-10pm. Friday and Saturday 5pm-8pm.)
Bitter Sweet is a calm, chilled and intimate venue. Maybe not a place for a mad, full on night out but it’s spot on for catch up with friends or a relaxed first date. (Your choice whether you take him/her during happy hour – it might make you look a bit of a tight wad!) But that all changes as the night rolls on, the talking stops and the music ramps up. It’s open till 3am at weekends, and by moving a few tables around there is more than enough room to dance.
Maybe the biggest plus for me (and the group of seven friends) was the friendly and efficient service, our lovely waitress was so good. Yes, it may be a little tricky to find and it’s not the biggest of venues but this just makes you feel like you’ve discovered a secret!
4 Kingly Court, London, W1B 5PW
Entry to Kingly Court via Beak Street
Telephone: 0844 371 2550
Opening hours: Monday to Wednesday – 5:00 pm – 1:00 am
Thursday to Saturday – 5:00 pm – 3:00 am
Sunday – closed
Nearest tube Oxford Circus or Piccadilly Circus