Bar Swift in SohoCultureFood & DrinksRestaurant & bar reviews
Swift, one part gleaming aperitivo bar, one part underground speakeasy, is the newest addition to Old Compton Street’s generous supply of drinking holes. It’s brought to you by a team of two cocktail power couples: Edmund Weil and Rosie Stimpson, founders of Nightjar and Oriole, and Milk & Honey’s Mia Johansson and Bobby Hiddleston – a pretty impressive pedigree by anyone’s standards.
Since Swift is essentially two different bars in one space, the experience you’ll have is very much determined by which one you choose. Upstairs is a no reservations standing bar, designed for popping in for a quick snack and aperitif, which has a broadly similar feel to the venue’s close neighbour Bar Termini. Art Deco touches have been sprinkled around – a sleek silver bar, elegant lanterns – while the black and white tiles and marble counters situate you in the Italian café tradition. Up here the cocktail menu is short and revolves around light, pre-dinner concoctions – we can recommend the light indulgence of a Sgroppino or one of their well-crafted classic cocktails.
Downstairs is quite a contrast, with a dark interior, red leather banquettes, and glossy black tables – a much more Nightjar-esque space. Here you can make reservations in order to enjoy a more relaxed, slower-paced evening. On the menu you’ll find an extensive whiskey selection and a longer list of more complex cocktails, such as the Liberty, featuring bourbon, Sauternes, Chartreuse, lemon and peach. There’s no overly theatrical presentation here, just subtle flavours and high quality ingredients. Some of the flavours were a bit too subtle, in fact, and instilled in this reviewer a desire for something with a bit more liveliness.
Alongside your drinks there’s a short menu of snacks, including oysters, steak tartare, and Welsh rarebit. We’d say the best way to experience Swift is with a serving of those oysters, a dry martini, and a seat in the chic upstairs window to watch the Soho crowds go by.
Photos: Filippo L’Astorina (except featured)
To book a table at Bar Swift, 12 Old Compton St Soho London W1D 4TQ, call 020 7437 7820 or visit here.