The start of 2014 saw Cecil’s open its inconspicuous doors on a London Bridge backstreet, whisking patrons away down a dim and dusty stairwell into a world beneath the cobbles and railway tunnels of Bermondsey Street.
This illicit venue is also home to the UFF Tea Merchants speakeasy, which brings 1930s Shanghai to life in London Bridge every weekend, serving “teas” supposedly possessing the power to “transport the consumer to another place and time”, all in the courtyard of an Art Deco residence, to the soundtrack of live jazz – i.e. the full shebang.
On a normal night, Cecil’s is an intimate venue and bar, housing a stage that sometimes plays host to all manner of acts from Blues to Honky Tonk to Folk Rock – see upcoming events here. When we visited, on a quiet Tuesday night, the place was nigh on empty but still bursting with character and atmosphere. Ambient music came from an old school gramophone, and the service was impeccable – from a waiter who remained in charismatic character at all times, giving great beverage advice.
Above us the disco ball span, the vintage leather sofas were super comfy, and I was soon curled up with my feet beneath me, sipping on a variety of potent and flavoursome short drinks – plus a complementary “Soldier” shooter.
I like this place. Even on a quiet night, it had a buzz to it. Wandering down the dark and deserted backstreets off Bermondsey Street, you don’t expect to find yourself in such a gem.
A true drinking den, on a quiet night with no live music, this place is great if you want somewhere where you can actually hold a conversation. The music is not overly loud, allowing you to cosy up and have a good natter. On a performance night, I’m sure the atmosphere is somewhat different and more lively, however.
Any recommendations for a pre-drink dinner?
Of course! The recently reviewed Tanner & Co is just a stone’s throw from Cecil’s, on Bermondsey Street, and the two together make for a fabulous evening.
I can’t remember exactly, but I think you’re looking at £9 or £10 a cocktail – average London pricing.
8 Holyrood Street, SE1 2EL
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