Okay, I'm cheating. I know I said all my hidden gems would be brand new, and I've actually mentioned Freud's before in my '25 things I'd do in London' post. But I can't help it - I went there this weekend, it is - in my humble opinion - one of the coolest bars in London...and it is, literally, a hidden gem!
If you didn't know it was there, you would walk right past the corregated iron staircase that spirals down into this subterranean cocktail bar...that is, unless you go on a Friday or Saturday night, when an excited mass of hipsters and indie kids in checked shirts and bankers in suit jackets spill out into the night, clutching glasses of brightly coloured drinks. I, personally, prefer Freud's in the week when it's a bit more chilled out - if you do go at the weekend, try and get there a bit earlier. The queue at the bar can get five people deep, it's a small place, and cocktails take a long time to make - you'll be waiting a while!
If you do wander down, you'll find a pared back underground basement. People sit at rickety little iron tables or, when it's busy, perch along the bare brick walls. The whole thing has a laid back, slightly gritty, contemporary-cool vibe. Last night they were playing drum & bass, loudly but not so loudly you can't hear each other speak (my pet peeve!)
The cocktails are all displayed haphazardly on a huge blackboard behind the bar. Unlike most cocktail places in London, they're all really affordable. There's nothing hugely posh up there, just good, classic mixes. I ordered a special - a Pina Mahiki - whereas my boyfriend went for a more classic Homeboy.
Oddly, they did look exactly the same, but I promise you they tasted completely different (and we both thought our own was the best!)
It's the kind of place where you don't have to dress up, but you can if you want. You can pop in for just one drink before dinner, as I did last night, or stay all night. And Alex James of Blur used to live upstairs and call it his local. What more could you want in a bar?!