I was excited to head down to the new Zenna Bar in the heart of Soho, London. Zenna has been billed as one of the new must-visit London cocktail bars and claims to make the world's spiciest cocktail! Situated under the much-lauded Red Fort Indian restaurant on Dean Street, Soho, Zenna bar is pitched as the first luxury Indian themed London cocktail bar.
What I look for in a great London cocktail bar is; a buzzy atmosphere, interesting decor and of course, fabulous cocktails. As I descended the stairs that run parralel to the front entrance of The Red Fort restaurant, I was instantly sucked into a dark, sumptuous atmosphere, greeted by a huge rose filled, candle-bejeweled stone water feature.
Zenna bar is a small and cosy basement bar and the low lighting and candlelit decor make you feel like you are in a cool, in-the-know London hideaway bar. You walk into the main bar area, with the drinks bar on the right and a small dance-floor area, DJ booth. Straight ahead are the two jewels in this Indian crown: two low domed-ceiling, exposed brickwork nooks with banquette seating running all around them (see the picture below). Perfect to hire out for small groups or an intimate space to chill and enjoy your drinks, they make for the perfect cocktail hideaways.
Zenna Bar, Soho | Nooks and Crannies
On the other side of the bar is a small annex with a few tables to sip, chat and catch up. Similarly to the rest of Zenna bar, the lighting is low and intimate.
So to the bar...headed up by Dan Thomson, the cocktails at Zenna have been lauded as some of the best in Soho and even London. Dan has an immaculate history, having learnt his trade at Nobu, Park Lane and won the Whisky cocktail of the year 2010. Dan simply understands the art of making cocktails and blending flavours together perfectly to create unique cocktail experiences.
After much deliberation I decided on a few of the "Signature Cocktails"; Garden Martini - Bombay Sapphire Gin, Mint, Lime, Apple, Cucumber, Elderflower cordial, Apple juice and a Vita - Lemongrass infused Vodka, Raspberry puree, Chambord, fresh Lemon and Lychee juice with a dash of soda to top. Not only did these drinks look incredible but the taste was out of this world. I watched Dan pour them and saw ample measures of booze being poured into the shaker but the finished article tasted beautiful, as if no alcohol was even in them. At £8 a cocktail, I think they are very reasonable as concoctions of this quality fetch a lot more in other bars in the Soho area. Some of the best cocktails I have tasted in London? Yes, without a doubt.
Cocktails at Zenna Bar
Mid-week the ambience is laid back and the perfect place for wonderful after-work / after-dinner drinks. The music is soft, relaxed and housey. Thursday to Saturday, the bar takes on a whole new personality, with great DJs and a busy crowd looking to dance away until 1am. Zenna really can be the perfect bar whatever mood you're in.
I nearly forgot to mention that you can also have some tasty Indian nibbles ordered down from the restaurant above, ranging from £7-£10.
I haven't talked about the world's spiciest cocktail as I didn't want this review to be all about that. Yes you can indeed get a ridiculoulsy spicy cocktail at Zenna, but for me, the ambience, decor and beautifully crafted cocktails are the main reasons you should visit this fab Soho bar.