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13a Gerrard Street
Like its Shoreditch sibling, Joyeux Bordel, ECC is from the same stable as à la mode Parisian thoroughbreds such as Prescription in St. Germain-des-Prés. Beyond the scruffy door, guarded by a friendly (or otherwise) greeter, you’ll discover a moody boho pile packed with Pinteresting people and arranged over the upper floors of a Chinatown dwelling: opinions of the full EEC experience are invariably divided, although few would dispute that it delivers consistently good drinks knocked out by keen-to-please/snottily superior staff (make up your own mind). Expect to shell out at least £70 for a quartet of contemporary spins on classic recipes: the line-up varies, but those we have loved include the Martini Suissesse (a blend of absinthe, vermouth, mint and orgéat that tastes like pimped-up Pernod) and Old Cuban (a rum, ginger and shampoo coupe). Steer clear of cocktails made with vintage spirits – unless you're feeling really flush and really flash.
Best Late-night Bars
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Square Meal Silver Awards
13a Gerrard Street
Leicester Square Tube Station 114m
Piccadilly Circus Tube Station 330m
Frith Street 60m
Prince Charles Cinema 65m
Mon-Sun 6pm-3am (Sun -12M)
Food & Drink:
Rate & Review
Food + drink: 1
This place is hugely overrated. If and when you get in (door staff are idiots – just say a random name and usually it works) it is full of disappointed tourists, who presumably found it somewhere in a guidebook, or were just unlucky enough to Google it. The staff are arrogant (because it is meant to be French; they're not…) the drinks are average at best and there is a stale, musty odour throughout the place. Go to London Cocktail Club if it's open, otherwise just pony up the cash and join a proper member's club. Century is across the road and is brilliant.
Food + drink: 2
Just not worth the hassle of those idiotic door staff. I can only assume they must be supplied by a charity rehabilitating people with personality disorders. If you can get in (it's more or less pot luck without a booking) it's no better than average. Honestly, go to Purl or Night Jar instead – they're in a completely different class.
Food + drink: 5
The Experimental Cocktail Club has annoyed many a potential customer with its hard-to-find, no-number door and its discriminating, supercilious doormen. But the former is all part of its secret, speakeasy appeal; and despite the latter, we have managed to slip through the net twice. Last night my fiancee was wearing a Barbour jacket which I suspect the doorman (not noticing the authentic dog hair and Dorset mud) thought was incredibly Shoreditch, so he let us in despite becoming distinctly frosty as we faffed at the door waiting for our friend. Once inside though, the staff are are all extremely friendly from the super smiley maitress d' who welcomes you to the charming barmen. The decor is quite “cool” in a slightly self-consciously hip way (velvet green pouffes, glass low tables, exposed brickwork etc) and, no surprises, the clientele matches this (yes, lots of post-modernist, ironic, wax jacket wearing types). The atmosphere buzzes, thanks in part to the squeezy seating and heightened no doubt by the collective palpable relief of being let in. But forget all this, ultimately it's all about the drinks here and ECC delivers on the promise of its name. The cocktail menu is quirky, appealing and truly experimental. I was persuaded that I really should try egg white in a drink so had an amazing gin-based/elderflower concoction that had a frothy top and a hidden spicy kick, followed by a furry-teeth inducing gorgeous little vodka/berry malarkey which came in an old-fashioned pharmacy bottle complete with “magic potion” label. This is quite simply the best place for a cocktail in London. So, dress dandy, try your hand at walking in off the street, and if it doesn't happen, don't let it ruin your night: you can always try another evening and until then there's the London Cocktail Club around the corner…
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