More than just an off-license. Milroy’s of Soho is a London institution. Founded by brothers Jack and Wallace Milroy in 1964 as a specialty wine shop it quickly became known for selling whisky when single malts became popular in the 60s. Still standing on the top of Greek St it is London’s oldest and most venerable whisky shop.
Now, it’s been taken over by Simo, the 20-something old former owner of the Coal Vaults. He said, ‘I wanted to build the already established Milroy’s brand, bringing it back to its former glory and making it a name synonymous with whisky once again’. The biggest change since Simo and team took it over? A liquor license. Whilst it is still a shop, there is a 12 seater purpose built, copper bar that serves over 250 whiskies. All poured at 35ml measure – as opposed to the standard 25ml – to give the ideal tasting experience. For all those big spenders out there, if you spend over £200 on one bottle you get given a locker with your name on it so that it will be waiting for you to return. You can still buy drinks from Milroy’s, included own brand whisky and a number of whiskies that are exclusive to the shop. Wherever in the world it comes from, every whisky has a story as to why it ended up on the shelf and the staff won’t hesitate to tell you the story of it. The staff are all whisky fans and enthusiastically talk you through the drink and which one is best for you. There are regular tasting events where you can try before you buy and expand your palate. Past all the aged single malts at the back of the shop is the below bookcase.
The very observant of you will notice a door handle tucked away in the bottom left. That’s because it’s actually a door to one of Soho’s biggest secrets.The old stock room is now a 55-seater candlelit speakeasy; The Vault of Soho. All part of the sexy refurb.
Down here, flickering candles bounce soft light off the bare brick walls, chesterfield sofas and handmade wooden tables. In fact, all the furniture upstairs and downstairs was handmade especially for the shop and bar to give it a rustic feel, befitting of London’s oldest whisky shop.
In true speakeasy style, the menus are presented inside old books.
Like upstairs, drinks are served in 35ml measures. Strong and to the point. with house infused spirits and syrups. “We don’t really go in for that fruity stuff”, Simo said. “Our cocktails are basically alcohol, alcohol, alcohol”. We started with The Smoking Gun. Smooth and sweet, it is served in a glass smoked over cedar chips in front of you. Whilst the rest of our night was a bit hazy, we can assure you that the drinks are brilliant and passionately made including a mezcalito served over a blood orange ice cube. If cocktails are not your thing than there is also a wide selection of seasonal fine wines and craft beers available. There’s not really that much food available but there you can buy a cheese board if you fancy it.
Worth mentioning here that there is also a private barrel room downstairs that seats 12 people. Ideal for a small party.
The biggest challenge? Getting past the shop staff without a dram before you head downstairs. On a more serious note, the bookcase and New York vibes downstairs could be pretentious but the friendly and warming nature of the staff and of course Chester, a Jack Russell that Simmo once picked up on a night out, ensure for a relaxed and fun night out Whilst this is a perfect spot for everything from a first date through to a few drinks after work, we really urge you not to visit. We want to keep this hidden gem for ourselves.