Person A: “ljnvs fdsvnu sofdvf sdsfadv!!!!???” Person B: “WHHAAATTT??” Person A gestures towards the smoking area and after a 15 minute wait in the smoking queue, find themselves outside. Person B: “I couldn’t hear you In there!!” Person A: “I was just asking if you’d seen Person C anywhere?” Person B: “Haven’t seen him in ages. Should we look for him together? Person” A: “Ok, let’s do it.” After a 15 minute search and two laps of the club, Person B finally locates Person C but in the process loses Person A. Person B: “asdofn sailsndf saaidfiasb dasfiusa!!!??” Person C: “WHHHAAATT??” (pointing to the smoking area). This process repeats (with different characters making up the missing person and the searching party) until the underground is closed, nightbuses emerge and taxis start charging double.
Now I’m hardly in the running for screenplay of the year but if I had to give a title to this insight into London’s nightlife scene it would be called – ‘All Clubbing Experiences In Your Mid-Late Twenties’ and, having spent far too much money, time and effort involved in this process, it has stared to bore me. Clubbing in general has really lost its allure and my weary legs cannot stand up to the strain that modern clubbing (with its endless queues and extortionate prices) demands. That coupled with a recent conversation (in a club) that actually included the term ‘UCAS’ has all but put me off London clubs in general. I’m not speaking for all twenty-something year olds everywhere (places such as Infernos confirm that there is still a huge demand for alcohol serving warehouses built especially for purposes of lazy and sloppy sexual encounters). But my group of friends are certainly amongst the woefully wary. Fortunately, there is a reprieve – late night bars. This concept, and saviour of my nightlife, still provides a lively and fun atmosphere but includes one ingredient that clubs so painfully lack – coherent conversation.
Most late night bars, these days, close just as late as their club contemporaries, don’t cost you anything, provide delicious drinks (served in clean glasses), include both comfy seats as well as a dancefloor (should your dancing feet be that way inclined), a few nibbles should you feel peckish and, as I’ve said, conversation. This is where you will find me. Be done with you, clubs! It was a lovely run and we had some good times but I fear our long and volatile relationship must now be winding down.
Though, my focus has certainly tipped towards late night bars that doesn’t mean any old place will do. Just because a bar serves great drinks, is relatively quiet and has plenty of seats, it does not qualify as a game-changer – there is so much more that must be on the table to really capture the hearts and minds of the punters and as far as I’m concerned Archer Street is such a place. There is something quite effortless in its ability to keep you coming back. The sort of place that is perfect for so many occasions, without changing its form to accommodate any in particular. If I’m asked to suggest a bar that is great for cocktails, plays great music, has some nice nibbles, would be perfect for a birthday (small or large group), is a nice spot for a quick drink before clubbing or theatre, opens late, has some entertainment, is fun, etc., etc., (I could go on); I will almost always answer with. “Have you heard of a bar in Soho called Archer Street”. I really can’t think of a function for which Archer Street is not perfect. I’ve been for post-work drinks, as the entirety of my whole Friday night, business meetings (yes, I’m a business man), catch ups with friends, dates and everything else that has anything to do with alcohol in Soho. If that isn’t enough to sway, the super friendly staff are all professional singers and serenade the guests throughout the night.
Don’t be put off, they are actually all incredible singers and this doesn’t induce the cringeworthy awkwardness impromptu bar and restaurant performances can create (belly dancers in Moroccan restaurants immediately springs to mind). The talents aren’t restricted to the waiting staff – the bar staff have thrown together an epic menu of signature cocktails as well as the ability to make masterful martinis. Just great form all around.
In closing – yes, to Archer Street. It’s a place I always recommend when asked; and always visit when near. And with so many new venues in Soho adopting food as their main prerogative, great bars like Archer Street will be given the attention they deserve. It has certainly had my undivided attention for a while and that is not likely to change in a hurry.
3-4 Archer Street
London, W1D 7AP