Night clubs have always been a disappointment to me. I was raised on Saturday afternoon film matinees where suave gents consorted at uncrowded night spots with diaphanous girls. There were round tables and always a chanteuse standing on a discreet stage in the corner, her velvety voice swimming through the cigarette smoke.  Rik’s Cafe has a lot to answer for.

I remember my first experience of a nightclub was in 1982 (a disco, in the common parlance of the time). It was a damp, foetid crush. The music was so loud no one could tell what song was playing from one track to the next.  The beer was warm, flat and expensive. If you wished to chat up a girl you had to shout in her ear like a trawler man who has been washed overboard in a force nine gale.

So when I went down the steps to Hix Soho on Brewer Street Soho on 2nd Jan I had a strange and early epiphany.  We had been seeking to find somewhere to give throat to the Yule spirit, which of course is a shout against the year’s oppressive darkness. That evening I walked into a place that felt at once familiar.

Mark Hix is brilliant at this mythic conjuration. His establishments all have an archetypal quality. You feel that you know the place deep in yourself. Some recess of your mind says ‘Yes, I have been here before, if only in heart’s yearning for somewhere good to sit and drink and eat.’

So too with Hix Soho. Moreover, there is no shtick to Hix (I’ve seen shtick; I’ve eaten at Gordon Ramsey’s restaurant in Dubai). Here was low glow lights and poised furniture. Here was the well- stocked bar. Here was a ceiling like beetle shell. It is an underground  san souci of a place; the sort of establishment that seems to exist outside of time. The only thing missing was a velvet voiced lady singing in the corner.

The bar is staffed by cool dudes and slick ladies. Beards are back and tiny little hair buns; on the men of course.  We had some bar snacks. Steak tartar, whipped beets with hazelnuts and salmon tarts. All were distilled exemplars. We drank some Hix Fixes – eau de vie, morello cherries, bubbles. Then we had Pegu Clubs – curacao, bitters, orange and gin. Both were complex and soigne; mature and sweet, sour and sharp.  Within half an hour I felt like one of the suave sepia gents who sat in Rik’s Café. I could have looked Claude Rains in the eye and bargained for transit papers. Hix does things that well.

We went on to some Nyetimber bubbles. English bubbles have gone beyond a cheeky snook at the French. They are refined and daring. I liked them so much I sang the old Irish ballad The Lass of Aughrim to a beautiful woman. It is a song beloved of  James Joyce.

As I say, Hix does things that well.

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