The Proofing Room is one of London’s quite-literally underground cocktail bars that can be cited in any argument as to the coolest city in the world.
The decor is very noir – walls, surfaces, enclaves – and there’s a real sense of the basement that time forgot to the place: the clothes of the clientele give away the 21st century but otherwise you’d struggle.
It's a bar to hunker down with good company and let the evening unfold at its own relaxed pace.
What’s the story?
The Proofing Room comes from the team behind award-winning bar The Vault Soho, which is situated beneath Milroy's of Soho.
Funnily enough, The Proofing Room is situated between the recently opened Milroy’s of Spitalfields.
Why not call it The Vault Spitalfields? You’d have to ask the owners, but it’s probably to do with a) originality and b) the bar was apparently a bakery proofing room back in the day.
What to drink?
There’s a bespoke seasonal cocktail menu, although the classics are available on request. Don’t be dull, though.
We opted for the Nikka Highball (Nikka whisky, kummel, absinthe, peach, orange, soda), and Sweet Pea + Elderflower (vodka, sweet pea, elderflower, bitter lemon).
They arrived in the same highball glasses, looking like twins that have diverged onto paths of good and evil (the Nikka being the wrong ‘un). Tastewise it's the inverse: SP has a rich, earthy taste, while Nikka is light and fragrant – don’t judge a cocktail by its colour, kids.
Alternatively, the Coconut Butter Old Fashioned (bourbon, coconut butter, bitters) is like a normal Old Fashioned that's decided to be young again. Get in the same mindset and you'll love it.
What to eat?
There are some cute bar snacks, such as quails' scotch eggs with honey-whisky mustard mayo, and whisky-cured salmon charcoal macarons. Veggies have four dishes to choose from, of which roquefort, grape and walnut truffles is the most alluring.
If you want something more sizeable there’s food upstairs at Milroy’s, and it’s pretty damn good.
What order you choose to approach the evening – cocktails, then whisky and food; whisky and food, then cocktails; cocktails, then whisky and food, then more cocktails – is a choice I leave to you.
Will it bankrupt me?
Definitely not. Cocktails are £12-13 and the lack of food means you should be able to keep a decent handle on the outgoings… at least until you venture upstairs…
Anything else to note?
While we'd normally suggest sitting at the bar – always the cool move – in the case of The Proofing Room, grab an enclave if possible. It's all nice and cosy.
For more info, see The Proofing Room