Monday, 16 March 2015
The Vault at Milroy's, Soho
Like The Gay Hussar - a stagnant old Hungarian restaurant that seems stuck in the same year Soviet tanks crushed the fledgeling revolution in Budapest, 1956 - whisky merchants Milroy's, next door, is a Soho institution - albeit a less senior one, opened in 1964. With closure looming, the Hussar's campaign look to be over. Not so Milroy's. Now in the hands of Simo, its 20-something rapscallion new owner who previously ran the short-lived Coal Vaults on Wardour Street, Milroy's 2015 offers a reinvigorated vision of what went before. Sample some of the 250+ whiskies stocked at the stripped-back Georgian shop's ground floor bar's copper counter and then penetrate deeper. For what is brand new here, is The Vault. Follow resident mutt Chester through a door in a fake bookcase, downstairs to a converted stockroom, now a rough-around-the-edges liquor lair with a small bar, leather chesterfields and the Barrel Room (pictured below), a handsome piratical salon privé lined in warm wood. Folderol-free fixes include a Dutch whiskey old fashioned and Smoking Gun (pictured above), a lethal mix of corn whiskey, Oloroso and Earl Grey tincture in a wood chip-smoked martini glass. For uisge beatha avoiders, my top tips are a Mezcalito served over a blood orange ice cube, in a black sea salt-rimmed glass, and vodka, port, Campari berry and pomegranate sour, Tutti Frutti (£9.50). Cold cuts and cheese platters are available and a 60s Brit-beat, bubblegum, Northern and Tamla playlist could have been filched from my iPad. Raw, honest and with on-the-money mixes, Milroy's is a Soho whisky seller/ soul cellar to savour.
3 Greek Street W1D 4NX 7734 2277 http://www.milroys.co.uk