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Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Cahoots, Soho

Duncan Stirling and Charlie Gilkes do love a theme bar. The pair owns Made In Chelsea magnets such as Bunga Bunga (bottom-pincher-plagued cheesy Neapolitan 1950s pizza parlour), Bart's (Val de Sloane Square après-ski chalet shindig) and Mr. Fogg's (Victorian voyager's Mayfair town 'hice' or tweedy 30s-throwback MP Jacob Rees-Mogg's gaff, I can never quite decide). Their latest wheeze replaces what was the no-less heavily staged DISCO (Cahoots' self-explanatory 70s-style predecessor, sadly, nowhere near as dangerously debauched as Studio 54, as this tearaway teen remembers it). So convincing is the mise-en-scène that is the venue's entrance - flagged up by a sign that says "To The Trains", accessed via a wooden escalator that leads to a ticket office manned by the first of various period-piece extras straight out of Foyle's War - foreign tourists are convinced Kingly Court Station is actually part of the London Underground network. If it were a station, it would be on the Party Line; for here's a morale-boosting knees-up in a full-blown recreation of a Tube station (complete with old Bakerloo line carriage) circa Biggin Hill and Bluebirds Over The White Cliffs Of Dover. Van-loads of vintage props set the scene and, when I drop in, some game birds have gaily entered into the spirit by dressing in 40s mufti, presumably in the hope of attracting a GI who will cover them with Hershey's kisses, shower them with cologne, Helena Rubenstein rouge and Nylons and whisk them away from bombed-out London to a lovely new life as a Housewife of New Jersey. My gimlet eyes, of course, see this barmy bunker for the charade it is. Who Do You Think You Are Kidding Mr. Stirling? In wartime Blighty, you'd be lucky to find Camp coffee - as in sickly sweet ersatz alternative, not espresso served by some queer bugger debarred from service lest he become the barrack-room bike. Here, you're on for cracking classic and contemporary cocktails billed as 'starlets and sirens' and 'wide-boys and good-time girls, all served - neat touch! - with free rations of ham and pickle cut-up sarnies in army issue tins. What's more, the two brooding Continental chaps charged with martini-making would certainly not be employed behind Cahoots' bar, rather charged and slung behind a POW camp's bars; "Wops" - "Italians" to you - being shamefully allied to those spiffingly attired but thoroughly beastly Nazis back in 1941. Any internment in this camp caper is no hardship, what with decent drinks and jitterbugging to Glenn Miller's In The Mood with hunky Hank from Hoboken NJ to keep you amused. Welcome to The Blitz... if not quite as the late lamented Steve Strange imagined it! 
13 Kingly Court W1B 5PW www.facebook.com/cahootslondon