Did you know you can time travel in London?
Last Saturday my friend Kaitlin and I found ourselves back in 1946, celebrating the end of WWII in an air raid shelter below the streets of London.
Okay, so we didn’t really find a hottub time machine, or even (spoiler alert) fist-shaped time-hopping ship made of LEGOs, but we did find CAHOOTS! And that was pretty darned close.
Just off Carnaby Street in London, you will find a small alleyway full of shops and restaurants. Off that, there’s a little alcove and a sign that will tell you how to get to the trains… but it’s not the Tube that you’re thinking of…at least not in this decade.
In search of delicious cocktails and a place to hang out while Tim got a new tattoo, Kaitlin and I decided to give Cahoots a go. I’d heard several really good things about the classic cocktail bar. Last time I tried to to hit up Cahoots, the vintage queen, Dita Von Teese was in town and it was packed with gorgeously dressed vintage ladies with a long wait time for those without reservations.
Assuming that maybe we had just gone on the wrong day, we decided that even though we didn’t have a reservation, we’d try to hit up Cahoots late Saturday afternoon. I was wrong… while we didn’t find a long line of glamorous vintage ladies waiting to get in, we did still find a line and a 30-45 minute wait. Because we didn’t know of anywhere else to go and finding somewhere else as highly recommended on a Saturday afternoon in London without reservations would take longer than 30 minutes, we decided to hangout in line and wait for our turn to time travel.
And I’m SO GLAD WE DID.
Forty five minutes after standing in line and an eyelash batting by me at the door guard, saw us finally heading down the stairs to 1946.
Walking down to the bar looks similar to walking down some of the underground stations here in London. But once you enter the enter the door, it’s a complete step back in time. A vintage dressed hostess met us as we entered and took us to our table. Letting us know that it was 1946 and everyone inside was celebrating the end of WWII. We were seated at a tiny table was actually a large upturned vintage trunk but it was all we needed for the two of us. I was grateful for the stools it came with too, since I was tired from all the walking we’d been doing that day. Our little table was also conveniently located directly across from the bar, so we had no need to flag down a waitress.
We were given newspapers from 1946 which were actually our menus and I was overwhelmed by the sheer amount of drinks they offered! Each “article” covered a different type of cocktail, from “loaded and punchy” to “Cahooch” to drinks with “state secret ingredients,” they had everything you could possibly want.
As the shim sham played over the speakers, I stifled the urge to break into dance in the tiny bar, while I waited for the bartender to make our first cocktails. My first cocktail was a “Jerries Cherries” and Kaitlin got a “Fred Astaire” from the stars and sirens list. I asked him if he knew how to shim sham but he just smiled at me blankly. It was kind of disappointing to my swing heart, but that’s okay because he proceeded to make me a phenomenal cocktail! It was cool to see them mix the drinks in mid-air and flip bottles and glasses, but then they upped the game. Every cocktail I saw come out of the bar was an absolute piece of art. My “Jerries Cherries” cocktail came with tiny berry purée upon a dried orange slice, mint garnish and even powdered sugar sprinkled on the leaves for more color. Kaitlin’s cocktail itself was just the liquor but to up that, the bartender added a lime rind, dill and a flower for garnish, all tied delicately around the stem of her glass.
Our second round was just as pretty as the first. With a wheat or barley sprig of accent for Kaitlin and a pineapple shaped glass and flower garnishes for my “Lovely Bunch of Coconuts” drink. I wasn’t really a fan of my coconuts drink though since I think the smoked almond flavor came through too much, but I drank it all anyway… at £12 a cocktail… you drink it.
But in reality… £12 for a cocktail in London isn’t unreasonable or unheard of and since each one is like a little masterpiece, I’m not complaining. In addition to our cocktails, we also got a complimentary can of popcorn and some waters without even asking for them.
The decor was absolutely phenomenal. Cahoots nails the theme down to the smallest detail. The bar appears as if it’s cobbled together from old file cabinets and bookshelves, old luggage and trunks serve as tables and decor in the old train station bomb shelter. One corner of the bar is an old “train car” with seats aligned along the sides like on the tube. A door, windows and poles in the center of the “train car” complete the authentic look. Signs on the walls announce that it’s a bomb shelter and give era directions on sheltering during and air raid. London Underground signs and vintage posters decorate the rest of the walls. A string of vintage lamp shades are hung from the center of the bar and add a soft look to the room.
Since the bar was so crowded, we didn’t get to explore a ton of the area, and I’d love to walk around more next time we visit.
The next time we head to Cahoots, we will definitely make reservations since I watched several people walk right in with their reservations as we waited. I also want to try some of the snack type food they offer and of course, some of the plethora of cocktails they offer. Trying four different ones, Kaitlin and I didn’t even scratch the surface of what they have. Maybe by the time we leave England, we can try them all! Or at least we can try!