From the mastermind’s behind Chelsea’s Juju, comes another South West watering hole that is causing quite the stir. Sheeesh, these guys are really monopolising the nightlife in this area - nabbing more popular plots than if playing a game of.. Well, Monopoly. Let us introduce to you SO.UK: arguably Clapham Common’s best weekend drinking spot. With it’s décor and styling straight from Marrakesh, SO.UK is a welcome break from the manic streets of London, allowing you to relax in Mediterranean style. The cocktails are SO good, the service... SO good. We’re noticing a trend here. We think we’re beginning to get the name. Oh and open until 3am too? Hands up who’s gonna wake up SO hungover?
Nominated ‘Bar of the year’ and winner of ‘Best DJ bar’ of 2015, SO.UK is no stranger to an accolade. And rightly so, as this Moroccan styled lounge bar is making quite the wave on the Clapham High Street. Named after the openair Arabic markets (al-souq or souk) SO.UK invites you to enjoy their exotic surroundings without ever having to leave the South West. Just as well really - Morocco is significantly out of the Oyster zone. It’s a pretty intimate space which generates a lovely warmth as you unwind by candlelight, with the sweet but subtle scent of incense in the air. It’s all kept very classy though. It’s very easy for themed venues to become novelty or a little overbearing by really cramming it’s costumery down your throat, but SO.UK hints at it with subtlety and polish that shows real know-how. It’s not purely a ‘drinks’ venue either, as they’re also serving up some pretty mean-looking Lebanese and Moroccan mezzé. Really great, actually. So great in fact, that if you left without trying it you’d really falafel.
Music: House, Commercial, Lounge
Dress Code: Smart/Casual
Train Station: Clapham Common
Address: SO.UK, 165 Clapham High Street, London, SW4 7SS
Slightly on the dearer side at £9 a cocktail and premium/champagne cocktails for £10.50, SO.UK is definitely an upmarket venue. The drinks are certainly worth what you part with for them though, being things of great beauty - every cocktail slaved over by the poor bartender breaking a sweat in the corner. You receive some complex concoction that looks well, practically picturesque. You know, the ones that you’re super impressed to receive but then makes you think ‘Sheesh. Do they have to do that everytime someone orders one of these?’ This is definitely your ‘pretty cocktail with an umbrella’ kinda joint over your ‘pint with the lads’ venue. That being said, they do have a variety of craft beers and ciders available, SO not to panic. Musically, it tends to err more towards ambient lounge music in the evenings to facilitate low-level chatter and then kicks up a gear at around 10 for a higher-energy atmosphere with some Soul, Hip Hop and Funky House and the occasional DJ. Cheeky.
As it’s a little steeper than some of the other venues in the area, you can generally expect a night free from students. Not the snake-bite, beer-bong, society kind anyway. (They’re all at the ‘Spoons down the road playing ‘I have never...’) If you didn’t come to that conclusion from the sea of blazers and skyscraper heels then you certainly will from the menu, as any venue that does bottle service generally has a certain kind of demographic. SO.UK has more of a West End/Wardour Street vibe about it - somewhere you might visit before (and after) catching a show up in town. It’s a really relaxed, pleasant drinking experience and you actually come over all grown-up when enjoying a tipple here. Look at you successfully adulting - just act cool and people will think this is normal. Come 10pm though, Clapham’s underbelly comes out to play and SO.UK shows us that they too know how to turn the party up to 11.
SO.UK is a whole new world, with deluxe drinks, service and food. The only thing we would say however, is that as the venue’s capacity is pretty small - 150 to be exact - if you’re not looking the part, you’re not making it in. Not even Buddha’s belly can bring you luck if you’re wearing sportswear mate, not even Buddha. Combine that with the fact that SO.UK is super popular in it’s local context and we suppose it’s pretty handy that the frontage is purely floor-length windows. That way, at least you can awkwardly bob back and forth swaying to the rhythm of the muffled music as if you’re on the inside. Cause if you’re looking more Aladdin than Ali Baba, genie or no genie, you’ll be left watching on from J-afar.