Bobby Hiddleston of Swift Soho on being awarded Best Bar in London

Photo for: Bobby Hiddleston of Swift Soho on being awarded Best Bar in London

25/02/2022 Situated in Old Compton Street in the heart of London’s ever-vibrant Soho, Swift Soho has just been named London’s best bar in this year’s Top 50 Cocktail Bar List.

Situated in Old Compton Street in the heart of London’s ever-vibrant Soho, Swift Soho has just been named London’s best bar in this year’s Top 50 Cocktail Bar List.


Opened in 2016 by owners Mia Johansson and Bobby Hiddleston who cut their teeth at some of London’s best cocktail bars, including Callooh Callay and Milk and Honey, as well as renowned New York outlet Dead Rabbit, it offers two bars in one venue, the upstairs and downstairs spaces offering two very different experiences.

Upstairs is livelier, with a lot of standing space that’s perfect for a quick pre-theatre drink, while downstairs the dimly lit basement den is the place to be, all dark wood panelling, cosy leather booths and curved intimate circular tables. Here the pace is slower, with live music at the weekends, and a much larger drinks list including a mind-boggling array of over 300 whiskies. The bar offers all the classic cocktails, but it’s the recently launched legends menu that makes Swift a cut above the rest. Celebrating creative thinkers and drinkers, the new range of cocktails is each dedicated to a particular legend who has added to drinking culture in some way, including cultural icons as diverse as Snoop Dog, the Queen Mother, Ian Fleming and Oscar Wilde.

Bar Swift Downstairs - (Photo Credit

We managed to pin down Hiddleston to discover his thoughts on what makes a great bar, and the key trends influencing the cocktail bar scene. 

Describe your typical customer

We’re based in Soho, so we get people from all walks of life. Theatre-goers, dates, work groups, young professionals showing London to their parents. Our main demographic is 25-45 but that is far from exclusive.

What do you think makes Swift Soho stand out from the crowd?

Attention to detail and consistency. A guest needs to be able to have a great drink and a great time, every time.

What trends are you seeing and what is particularly popular with customers at the moment?  

Being based in London gin is always going to be popular, and it’s a great vehicle for cocktails so we’re happy to oblige. That being said, we love our versatility and are very proud to use a whole range of different spirits in our drinks.

Do you change your cocktail list, and if so, how often? Are there some old favourites that are a constant on the menu?

We change our main menu annually, but we keep some of our favourites. Our Irish Coffee, for example, is our biggest seller and it has been on the menu since we opened.

How do you go about buying drinks, given the plethora of brands out there? Are there some must-stock brands that customers ask for by name, or are they more attracted to newer, niche entrants? 

We spend a lot of time learning about spirits brands and production, so we have our favourites. We also know intimately what people want – it’s not just about pushing what we like on our guests.

What are the most important factors you consider when buying spirits?

Will it fit the Swift brand – does its presence add or subtract from the experience – and will it sell – there’s no point having an exquisite range of cognacs that nobody is buying.

Swift Bar Interior

Bar Swift Interiors Downstairs (Photo Credit

What about your wine offer? What is popular at the moment? 

Wine is always a steady seller in Swift. When we opened, we had a far larger range, but we found that most of the list wasn’t getting touched, so we simplified it to a good, core range that covers most bases. Prosecco is far out-selling champagne at the moment, but that only stands as testament to how far that wine has come in the past decade.

What about English wine? - is that something you might introduce, given its growing popularity? 

We had one when we opened, but it didn’t sell so we took it off. English sparkling can be absolutely fantastic but trying to convince someone to spend the same on an English wine as they would a champagne in a cocktail-led bar is a hard sell.

Similarly with your beer offer? What's currently trending? Is it craft beer all the way?

Our biggest selling beer is a classic German pilsner, so definitely not just craft! Small breweries are fantastic, and we do carry a small number of beers from independent brewers, but one can’t just dismiss tradition.

How is the drinks audience changing? Are consumers more clued up about drinks and their provenance? 

Guests are getting more and more knowledgeable every year, which is a great trend. People care about what they are drinking a lot more than they did ten years ago.

How has Swift survived Covid and all the related restrictions? Have you had to adapt your business model or strategy in any way? 

Like every business, we had to adapt massively. What we are most proud of through Covid was how we treated our staff – we guaranteed them an income from us before furlough was announced, we kept them busy with bottled cocktails, we did quizzes and games, and made sure that everyone was staying afloat both financially and mentally. Now that restrictions are almost all gone, business is picking up once again, but it will take a bit more time before we can feel comfortable again.

What is your personal favourite cocktail?

I love a Gin Martini. Like proper authentic Italian cooking, it’s beautiful in its simplicity.

What do you think the future holds for the whole cocktail/bar scene? 

It’s not going anywhere. Trends will come and go, bars will wax and wane in popularity, but there will always be a demand for a good drink.

Signature cocktails ranging in price from £8-£13: 

  • Scroppino: Lemon sorbet, St Germain & Prosecco
  • Kew Gardens: Beefeater gin, cucumber, basil, lime, prosecco
  • Rhubarb Sour:  Belvedere vodka, dry vermouth, rhubarb, lemon Peychaud’s
  • Cornetto: Eagle Rare Bourbon, cream sherry, noisette, almond, cacao
  • Swift Irish coffee: Jameson Caskmates, Send Swift blend coffee, demerara, cream, nutmeg
  • Tempest: Darjeeling kombucha, lemon, elderflower, honey, celery



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