Upstairs downstairs: 68 & Boston in London

boston back bar

Mark Ludmon visits Soho’s 68 & Boston – a wine bar and cocktail bar in one venue

When the former bar manager of The Dorchester’s China Tang teams up with two other leading figures in the bar world, the result is going to be something special. After nearly eight years at The Dorchester’s acclaimed bar and restaurant, Luca Cordiglieri has set up his own cocktail bar as part of 68 and Boston in the heart of Soho in London. He has joined forces with Martin Malley, owner of London’s Planet of the Grapes wine bars and restaurants, and Eric Yu, co-founder of The Breakfast Group which is behind London venues Opium, The Social and Salvador & Amanda.

They have taken over a prime site in Greek Street which was most recently gay bar Green Carnation. As the name suggests, it has been split into two spaces: wine bar 68 on the ground floor and cocktail bar Boston up a narrow staircase on the first floor. Working with hospitality specialist Kai Design, they have refurbished throughout, taking inspiration from the nostalgia of post-war Britain and 1950s Soho and the romance of Woody Allen’s time-travelling film Midnight in Paris.

Classic Parisian café culture influences 68, with the interior filled with pavement tables, exterior-style ironmongery and tables made from traditional silver trays – a nod to the annual Waiters Race that has finished in Greek Street since 1955. The name is based on there being 67 wine-producing nations in the world. “We want to encourage people to choose their wines adventurously and try regions and grape varieties that are unfamiliar to them, and so 68 will stretch their horizons that bit further,” Eric explains. To achieve this, all bottles of the carefully selected high-quality wines are priced £20. Bar food is also available, supplied by a neighbouring restaurant.

Upstairs in Boston, the main lounge has been given a glamorous, elegant makeover, with mid-century design features, retro print detailing and distressed leathers. The faded decadence of Soho showgirls influenced the private room’s décor with its tassels and plush velvet. It offers classic cocktails and original serves from £10, with quality and service that reflect Luca’s background at The Dorchester and, previously, London’s Waldorf Hilton and his presidency of the UK Bartenders Guild. Favourites include Muriel’s Colony, made with Bacardi 8 Year Old rum, a rhum agricole, a strawberry balsamic shrub, gomme syrup, orange bitters and egg white.

To complement 68, Boston specialises in cocktails inspired by wine, from malbec to vermouth, port and sherry. They include Call of the Wild, made with oak-smoked Woodford Reserve bourbon, peach-infused Lillet Rouge, grapefruit cordial and chocolate bitters, and In Vogue, combining cranberry-infused Grey Goose vodka and berry-infused riesling with tiple sec, cranberry juice and orange bitters with a rooibos tea foam.
Both 68 and Boston are open Monday to Saturday from 5pm to late – 2.30am at weekends – bringing a welcome new destination to Soho for exploring unusual and exciting wines and cocktails.

68 & Boston, 4-5 Greek Street, London W1D 4DD
Tel: 020 7287 3713

68 bar

Behind the scenes
Interior design: Kai Design
Main contractor: Satio 180
Lighting: Mullan Lighting
Bar stools, chairs: Dining Chairs UK
Upholstery: Sunbury Fabrics
Sound system: Hector Patch (Soundscape Solutions)

Originally published in the February 2016 print edition of Bar magazine.

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