Mark Ludmon visits the Compton Cross, the new incarnation of historic Soho pub Molly Moggs
Fans of historic Soho pub Molly Moggs grew anxious when news came through that it was to be transformed into a cocktail bar. But despite the new name of the Compton Cross, the bijou pub retains much of its charm, along with twice-weekly drag shows, but with the added attraction of a smarter new look and a phenomenal cocktail menu.
The latest incarnation is down to its new owner, Marmalade Pub Company – a partnership between bar operator The Marylebone Leisure Group and leased and tenanted pub company Ei Group. The revamp has made the best use of the tiny ground-floor trading space, with classic-style banquettes, poseur tables and high stools – enhanced by a liberal use of mirrors – creating a stylish but cosy new look.
The cocktail list stretches over four A5 pages, with plenty of well-made classics alongside some tasty twists and original signature serves, made by bartenders trained in cocktail making. Inspired by its location, the menu includes the lesser-known modern classic, the Wibble, created by legendary Soho bartender Dick Bradsell and here made with Greenalls Wild Berry Gin, sloe gin, pink grapefruit and lemon juice, served in a high-ball with ice. Another of Dick’s classics is the essential Espresso Martini which has been given a twist with the bar’s own coffee-infused rum plus vanilla syrup (pictured bottom).
Other classics include a Hanky Panky, Bloody Mary, Clover Club, Vieux Carré and Singapore Sling although one of my favourites is a Brooklyn (pictured above), made with Woodford Reserve Rye whiskey, Dolin Rouge vermouth, Amer Picon bitter and Luxardo Maraschino liqueur, garnished with a maraschino cherry.
Signature cocktails include the popular Terrys, again made with a shot of espresso and coffee-infused rum but combined with triple sec and cinnamon syrup, garnished with a chocolate flake. There are several Sour-based recipes such as the Name of the Rose, made with a pepper gin, Amer Picon, lime juice, egg white and rosemary and cardamom syrup and the Walter White combining 1615 Pisco from Peru with a house-infused chilli vodka, tarragon syrup, lime juice and egg white. All the cocktails are priced at £7.50 or £8, with extended two-for-one happy hours throughout the week.
But the Compton Cross is not just about cocktails. There is a line-up of beers on draught, from Camden Pale Ale to Birra Moretti and a small selection of wines, including sparkling. There is also now a food offering, with a menu of “artisan” pizzas, including a deal of a pint of craft beer and a pizza for £7.
As well as having DJs every Friday and Saturday night, the Compton Cross also continues the site’s tradition as a cabaret venue, with drag shows on Wednesdays and Sundays. West End legend Tiffaney Wells (pictured) has returned with guest appearances by other drag acts such as the award-winning Myra DuBois. It is part of the bar’s efforts to maintain the site’s tradition as an LGBT+ venue, with Marmalade Pub Company becoming the first signatory of a LGBT+ Venues Charter developed by London’s night czar, Amy Lamé, with the London mayor. It ensures that, while the Compton Cross may have changed its name, look and menu, it is still staying true to the historic site’s legacy.
The Compton Cross, 2 Old Compton Street, London W1D 4TA
Tel: 020 7734 4986