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The Whistling Shop @ 63 Worship Street

BY Boon Koh
Published 5 February 2013
Our Review Rating: 6.5 out of 10 stars

Have you ever been to a bar, had a look at the cocktail menu, and wonder if there was more to life than the same old names that appears in every bar?

Sure, most bars try to spice things up a bit by having a unique signature cocktail on their menu, but no other drinking establishment goes as far as the Whistling Shop. Even the name itself is unusual – most bars have cool sounding names. Pubs are the ones usually with the witty funny names. But the Whistling Shop on Worship Street is neither a bar or a pub, but a Victorian style speakeasy between Old Street and Liverpool Street. It’s not easy to find – the only clue from the outside the old looking sign above the entrance:

Then it’s down the stairs into this cavern of a basement, with false bookshelves lining the walls and lots of dark wood panelling that wouldn’t be out of place in a members only club:

What makes Worship Street Whistling Shop so popular and have people raving about is its very original cocktail menu. How to choose when the drinks have names like Radiation Aged Cocktail or Exploded Martini?

And it’s not just superficially gimmicky, where the names are original but the ingredients are the same-old same-old. Here, lots of ingredients are made on-site, and the cocktails, while using commercially available alcoholic bases, are mixed with the most interesting of other ingredients. Like the Living Cocktail, which includes bacteria from blue cheese. The method of concocting the cocktails are special too – lots of equipment used that wouldn’t be out of place in a chemistry lab.

On my visit to the Whistling Shop, I was there during London Cocktail Week, where they had a special creation – The Singleton of Dufftown. A mixture of warm milk, Singleton whiskey, some sherry and orange zest – it was special alright. But it didn’t taste that good – and almost everyone in our group didn’t finish their glass. It was definitely a case of hype over substance, at least for this “nightcap” of a cocktail.

Whistling Shop is a great place to discover and explore new cocktails, especially if you find yourself getting bored with the same cocktails week in week out. Plus it’s got a nice Victorian ambience, although you wouldn’t want to stay too long – at around £10 for the cheapest cocktails, you’d need deep pockets to have more than a drink or two!

Worship Street Whistling Shop
Address: 63 Worship Street, London EC2A 2DU
Opening Hours: 5pm-midnight Mon & Tues, 5pm-1am Wed & Thurs, 5pm-2am Fri & Sat. Closed Sundays.