Iconic London bar Milk & Honey closes after 18 years

Game-changing Soho bar Milk & Honey, one of the first speakeasy-inspired bars in London, shook its last cocktails on Saturday night after 18 years in business.

Set over three floors, the booth-filled members’ bar became a Soho institution after opening in 2002, staying open until 3am six nights a week.

Open to non-members with bookings before 11pm, the Soho spot was the London outpost of the New York original, founded by Sasha Petraske.

Ahead of the curve, with its clandestine atmosphere and classic cocktails, it inspired a legion of speakeasy-style spin-offs across London in the early noughties.

Owner Jonathan Downey broke the news of the closure on Twitter last week, revealing that the bar’s final six staff members had lost their jobs as a result.

“We’ve got two more nights of drastically reduced trading at Milk & Honey and then, after over 18 years in Soho, we’re closing for good,” he wrote.

Downey had hoped to keep the bar open until Christmas, but the recent 10pm curfew put in place from last Thursday by the UK government to try to stem the rising tide of coronavirus cases “killed us off”, Downey said.

The bar shook its last cocktails on Saturday night. Having relied on late evening business, the 10pm curfew made the bar’s business model no longer viable.

Downey had campaigned for a rent freeze while Milk & Honey was forced to close during lockdown earlier this year, but was unsuccessful in his plight, despite having paid nearly £4 million in rent since signing the lease on the Poland Street venue.

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