Standing on the dance floor in a haze of seductive booze-fuelled partiers, you can imagine the stories that were born on these hallowed grounds. Tucked away in a tiny unassuming alleyway in Mason’s Yard is The Scotch of St James, an exclusive, invitation only speakeasy bar, frequented by the rich and famous. It’s a place where the lights are dim, the drinks are strong, the people are edgy, the elite are regulars and the party is endless.
Since it first opened its doors in 1965, the rock and roll club was a respected hang out for musicians and record company execs. On a sunny September day in 1966, a then unknown Jimi Hendrix was in the crowd and asked to jam with the house band. It was his first ever impromptu gig in London.
The Scotch’s alumni are a musical hall of fame, with the club playing host to some of the world’s greatest rock and roll legends including The Beatles, The Rolling Stones – both of whom are said to have been given their own tables – The Who, The Beach Boys, The Yardbirds, Dusty Springfield – the list goes on.
After closing its doors in 1980, the Scotch reopened more than 20 years later in 2012 and re-launched in 2014. The nightclub, live music hub and private event space is just as exclusive and prominent as it ever was with regulars now including Kate Moss, Cara Delevingne, and Georgia Jagger.
It’s hosted the private parties of Scarlett Johansson, Rihanna, Jack White, Keira Knightley and Mark Ronson’s album launch. Just a few months ago, British talent and one of the world’s hottest popstars, Ed Sheeran put on a secret gig at Scotch.
The club is also a hub for the eclectic fashion world, hosting the chic after parties of London Fashion Week for the likes of Stella McCartney, Tommy Hilfiger, Tom Ford, Jean Paul Gaultier and Maybelline, for their New York’s launch party with model of the moment, Adriana Lima.
Set across two floors, the art deco interior shows off the handcrafted copper bar, brass tin tiles, oak panels and the original gilded staircase. Upstairs is the perfect space for a cosy cocktail while downstairs is lined with cosy velvet booths with plenty of darkened nooks and crannies to hideaway while the music takes hold. Though it’s not all about the décor with Scotch priding itself on its cocktails including the Jameson’s Whiskey Cherry Bomb and the Castle Made of Sand, created for Jimi Hendrix by his brother on Jimi’s 50th birthday in 2009. For private events, the Scotch can offer snazzy collaborations with food brands – the 7 Star Life team was treated to juicy Tommi’s Burgers on the night we visited.
The modern yet understated design of the bar reminds you it’s a new era of the Scotch, yet still allows you imagine the wild parties of the past. Once you’re inside, you’ll get the urge to party like a rock star until the early hours of the morning – just as well that the club stays open till late.
The Scotch of St James is both a history lesson of rock and roll and a gateway into the modern underworld of the elite – tell only your best friends…
The Scotch of St James, 13 Masons Yard, St. James’s, London SW1Y 6BU