Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Garlic & Shots

Some of you who have read this blog a few times before may have realised that the guys who write it have been slaughtered in cellars more times than the entire cast of the Saw films, and like the films; we’re showing no signs of stopping. Garlic & Shots is the perfect setting for even more of the same then, as this particular basement is dark, cramped and playing heavy metal: brilliant.

Now, you may be thinking that this is something of a departure from the hidden and often classy cocktail bars we tend to discuss. This is true, but I’m the kind of man who’s more at home in those pubs you find on industrial estates than those kinds of places so I felt more comfortable here. Plus, Garlic & Shots is actually pretty cool, in the same way there was that one guy in school who was cool even though everyone was a bit afraid of him and you’d heard a pretty unsavoury rumour about him involving a kestrel. 

As you may have guessed, Garlic and Shots is a bar that has a pretty obvious unique selling point, but just in case you’ve been drinking or you’re only glancing over this shoddily-written rubbish then I’ll spell it out. The garlic part of Garlic & Shots refers to the fact that all the food on the menu has garlic in. And I mean all; the website says ‘you can order more garlic, but never less’ so be prepared for that if you’re going there for dinner. 

However, this blog isn’t ‘places to go for dinner if you’re fucking terrified of vampires’, so we’ll move swiftly on to the ‘Shots’ element: Garlic & Shots has a menu of 101 shots, ranging from the fairly standard to the arguably criminal. Oh don’t worry though; quite a lot of the shots have garlic in them too. Say what you like about G&S, but they do exactly what it says on the tin. 

The front of the place is something of a drab affair, which only makes me like it more. When you’re wandering around Soho it’s nice to see a change from the endless parade of Pret a Mangers and cocktail bars with names like ‘Paradise’ and ‘Jewel’ that inexplicably are still in business despite the fact you never ever see anyone in them. A squat, grey little building sandwiched between two townhouses, there’s very little to say that Garlic & Shots is actually a bar, rather than say, a really pretentiously-named boutique or a greengrocer’s that’s decided to branch out into the firing-range game. 

When you go inside the ground floor is closer to a restaurant than a bar, but head through to the back and down the stairs into the basement. What you’re confronted with is the kind of thing I love: a dingy basement with a couple of tables in it and an extremely suspect drink menu. 

It’s not glamorous, and it’s not really very pretty, but it definitely all works. The metal that’s playing in the background only serves to add to the atmosphere and it’s absolutely perfect for getting fired up for the kind of night that ends up with you committing all Seven of the Deadly Sins, and possibly creating some brand new ones. 

When we turned up we had the Bloodshot, which was some sort of concoction involving tomato juice, chili and, quite obviously, garlic. Then we had some other delicious treat that may or may not have been the garlic honey vodka. Then some other things happened, which my recollection of is hazy at best, and then I woke up in a badger’s den in Victoria Park with someone else’s shirt on.

Garlic & Shots is the place to take people for some shots about halfway through a night. It’s really fun, and everyone likes the whole garlic thing, plus if you’re sensible about it, you could probably choose some of the shots that are actually ok. Ideally though, you need to hit it at that point when you’re so drunk that a shot called ‘Racing Oil’ sounds like a great idea. 

Finally, I'd like to sum up with the mantra of Garlic & Shots themselves, which speaks to me a lot: 'If it isn't fatal, it toughens your body'. Perfect. Although that does sort of lead me to believe that the guys who work there have never woken up a furious badger at 4:30am.

J. Clee

14 Frith Street, 
W1D 4RD 

020 7734 9505


  1. Bodega got the axe then?

  2. La Bodega will be coming up in the future, but we need a while to turn them around.

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