London’s New Whizzo Underground Bar | Cahoots, 13 Kingly Court, London W1B 5PG
It takes a lot to excite us, there are countless new bar openings in London and to be honest, most of them look just like the last one. But then Cahoots happened and Kingly Court got even better. It’s formerly the Disco club, part of the Inception Group who own bars like Bunga Bunga and Mr Fogg’s – none of which we’ve been to, but we want to now. Inception’s Charlie Gilkes and Duncan Stirling have turned it into Cahoots – an amazing 1940s themed bar in an old air raid shelter disguised as a tube station, tucked away just off Carnaby Street.
Duncan told The Standard ‘Our concept is: it’s 1946, London is being rebuilt after the Blitz. A group of scoundrels stumble across a disused Tube station used as an air raid shelter and start organising underground parties to try and rebuild the spirit of London.’
With ideas as good as this comes the threat of it being all hype and a massive let down, but this one is not. It’s brilliant before you even get inside. The stairs leading down to the bar are those old wooden escalators banned since the Kings Cross fire in 1987, from which my dad narrowly escaped, which leads me to an oddly amusing story…
My Turkish au-pair girl at the time of the fire took my father’s phone call saying that he was OK. She translated his message back to my brother and I that he was dead. How she came to that conclusion when she was talking to him on the phone, I’ll never know. Whenever I see these wooden steps now, I am transported back to that weird moment. There must be something about my family and Kings Cross station as I also narrowly missed a disaster there too on 7th July.
Anyway, let’s move away from the sombre stuff and back to the fun of Cahoots. Once down those stairs complete with tannoy announcements, you’re greeted with a ‘what ho!’ by a station master in a ticket office. All the staff here are in character from 1946 with back stories and everything, decor is incredibly impressive – quirky lighting, trinkets, sandbags left over from the Blitz, London transport memorabilia and old posters. Every detail is covered, not sure if it’s 100% historically correct but we loved the amount of effort that’s been put in and all the war-time touches. Oh and dressing up is encouraged but not vital, thank god.
There’s even authentic TFL fabrics – if you like that kind of thing, which I’m guessing you do if you’re reading this, you can buy your own here. It’s dark and cosy, air-raid shelter chic with swing music beats and an actual replica of an old tube carriage, so cool!
The cocktail menu is a staggering four A4 pages with 13 sections using ingredients such as OXO cubes and lemon curd with drinking vessels such as cans, milk bottles and thermos flasks. Oh and the menu’s designed as newspaper, it’s pretty hard to choose what to have but the staff somehow seem to know the drinks off by heart so can recommend them.
I tried the Dunkin’ for apples (£10) with rum, cloudy apple juice and homemade salted caramel syrup from the ‘Tommies & Dickys’ section, this is a manly drink section so of course I was drawn to it like a shot. Ade was gagging to try the Cherry Top (£18) from ‘The Milk Round’ section but I was mean and didn’t fancy sharing it with him, even if it did come in an old-fashioned milk bottle.
Instead he had the Del-usions of Grandeur (£10) from the ‘Spivs & Scoundrels’ section, a super strong drink with Del Maguey Vida mezcal and Disaronno. This cocktail is made for sipping and as the huge ball of ice melts the drink’s strength begins to mellow (slightly).
The Welcome back to Blighty (£9) from the ‘Landgirls & Homeguard’ section called my name, literally. Along with orange and clove infused Pampero Añejo, it also involves Saffron syrup and as a rule, I have to order anything that contains myself.
As well as anything cherry-based, Ade is obsessed with sours so he had the Cahooch sour (£8) from the ‘In Cahooch’ section – drinks made with their homemade grog, a blend of Mount Gay Black Barrel rum, Bulleit bourbon, Cointreau Noir and Martini Rosso vermouth.
There’s no food as such, but retro bar snacks such as crisp sandwiches and cheese and Spam toasted sandwiches are on the rations menu. We didn’t try these as we were full of Big Fernand burgers, but we advise you line your stomach first at one of the many great restaurants in Kingly Court, such as Pizza Pilgrims, Shoryu, Whyte & Brown and Señor Ceviche.
The only disappointing thing were the toilets. I imagined the cubicles would be like train loos but they’re just regular toilets. But hey, if that’s the only complaint we had then that’s pretty good going. Don’t forget to book your visit, tables are reserved for 2 ½ hour time slots after which you can stay in the bar area till closing time (3am on Saturdays). It’s times like this that being an adult is brilliant, we felt sorry for the inquisitive kids we saw running out as we came in, come back when you’re 21 you scallywags!
13 Kingly Court, London W1B 5PG
Telephone: 020 7352 6200
Opening hours: Mon-Weds 5 – 1, Thurs-Fri 5 – 2, Sat 7 – 3
Nearest station: Oxford Circus (5 mins walk) Piccadilly Circus (7 mins walk)
Available seven days a week for private hire.
We visited as guests of Cahoots, this does not affect our review in any way. We always write with complete honesty.