Mother’s Day 2018 quietly snuck up on us this year. One minute it was February and suddenly, March was upon us in a surprising snow flurry. It was time to put special mummy plans in place and so I booked a table for the Mum and I at Cahoots’ Squiffy Picnic. (She is one of the only people I’ve ever met that actually says “squiffy” when she means “drunk”!)
What is Cahoots?
Tucked away near London’s Carnaby Street, you could easily pass this bar by. It is underground; in fact, it’s whole theme is underground.
Cahoots is a bar that is entirely themed as a 1940s London Underground spot. Vintage posters, slang and props abound. I’m not sure how they manage it, but it’s not cheesy. I wouldn’t say it was classy either, maybe tongue in cheek.
Myself and a close friend visited in summer 2017 and we had such a lovely time, that I knew I’d be back. The first time, we had just enjoyed a few cocktails, but this time I was booked in for a Squiffy Picnic!
What is Cahoots Squiffy Picnic?
Part afternoon tea, part picnic, part show and part piss up, the Squiffy Picnic is just a good excuse to blow off your Saturday evening plans in favour of a great day out. Cahoots does this every Saturday afternoon, which is probably why it’s taken me so long to go (shift work…)
Do you know someone who loves getting squiffy? Then do share this with them on Facebook!
Our table was booked for 13:00 and so we arrived at about 12:50. The doors weren’t due to open for ten minutes so we didn’t mind waiting outside. They were a little delayed in opening the doors but ushered us in quickly.
They took our coats in the free cloak room. You’ll want to do this, as it is plenty warm enough inside and there isn’t much space for your stuff.
Our waiter showed us into “The Carriage”. This is my favourite spot in the bar as you get to sit on old tube seats and who wouldn’t want to be in the train at an underground themed bar. (For Squiffy Picnic there was one downside to this, but more on that later).
Drinks – The Squiffy
We were presented with a welcome drink. It was sweet and perfectly agreeable, I guess they have to make sure everyone likes it. It came in vintage tins which made us smile.
We perused the Squiffy Picnic menu. It gave us three cocktail options to pick from for the rest of the meal. Two gin-based options and one vodka-based. I thought it meant one more drink of the same size, but happily, we got two enamel camping mugs and the cocktails came in a milk bottle.
We split the two gin cocktails and they were both very quaff-able. The three drinks combined left me a very happy tipsy. Just tipsy enough to order one more drink for Mum and I from the full cocktail list, which looks just like a newspaper.
There were also two other drink add-on options. The first was to make the cocktails bottomless. This will cost you an extra £20 per person. If you are planning to do this, tell the waiter straight away as you only get it for 1 hr 50 mins and you want to make sure you get your full time before you have to give up the table.
The other was to get a bottle of champers for £40. As there was only two of us, we thought this was an expense we didn’t need, but between four, it would be a nice addition.
Food – The Picnic
On arrival we saw our little picnic hamper. Inside sat three paper bags. One was full of crisps and bread sticks, the other two had a sandwich each. Now, this isn’t afternoon tea so they aren’t dainty, crustless cucumber things; these are proper sandwiches!
I had told them ahead of time that my Mum is pescatarian (she doesn’t eat meat, but does eat fish). We both had one half tomato and mozzarella, and the other half smoked salmon and cream cheese. I’m not sure the ingredients were very time period appropriate. I think we ate a week’s family ration of cheese each and the soft, white bread would have been a total luxury after a couple of years of National Loaf.
We also had a little potato salad (shame we both hate it) and a pot of green pesto (which we both love).
The pie round was brought in an army mess tin which was very cute. We smelled meat and could see that one of them was full of mince. Uh oh! A mummy who doesn’t eat meat. That was a bit of a fail, I took the tin back to one of the waiters and they nipped off to find us the vegetarian option (thank goodness one was an open pie).
He returned with a spinach slice, a sweet potato feta and spinach pie and falafels. Well, they said falafels but they were more like deep-fried veggie balls. They were sweet with peas and full of potato. They were all tasty, but two spinach options was a little uninspired.
The desserts came a long time after the pies, once the picnic was officially over actually. I think they forgot about us (but by this time we were on drink number four so I didn’t mind too much).
For dessert we were given a little flapjack, some grapes and a mallow cake. My mum was very unimpressed with the mallow cake, she has disliked them since the age of ten. She has no sweet tooth whatsoever. I ate mine but couldn’t quite get through my flapjack. I was stuffed by this point!
Have you met Lois!? Once you have, you won’t forget her! Part of the Squiffy Picnic is the one woman show performed so excellently by Lois, who has flown all the way from 1942 New York. It is so much fun. We even did the conga line to the Chattanooga Choo Choo. I never thought I would admit to that….maybe I am still squiffy!?
Audience participation is encouraged, and the boys got particular attention. I think New York’s Lois likes a British boy! She did two short sets, singing some old school tunes, and a couple that were jazzed up, much in the way of Postmodern Jukebox. Everyone was laughing, singing along and enjoying the show.
Remember that I realised there was a downside to sitting in the carriage? Well, it was difficult to see what was happening in much of the show. She did come around all the tables but the majority of the show took place in the main room. It is probably worth asking for a table in front of the stage if you want to see the whole thing.
Was it Worth it?
This is not a cheap afternoon. The normal picnic will set you back £46 a head and with a few extra drinks, you are looking at £65/70 including service charge. However, this isn’t your average Saturday afternoon. It is a truly special treat that, realistically, you will only do once. If that is the case, then yes, I think it’s worth it. (Plus, if you are all paying for yourselves, it doesn’t feel quite so painful).
I loved that despite the price tag, it didn’t feel stuffy. I’ve had a few afternoon teas in silent dining rooms, they can be kind of awkward! Here there are classic songs playing and the whole idea is to get squiffy!
We had such a wonderful time at Squiffy Picnic, I would recommend it whole-heartedly! I can only hope that my mum loved it as much as I did.
I am definitely going to return to Cahoots, but for a different event, or just for cocktails. It just wouldn’t be the same twice. (Plus, I should really take Mr Fluskey at some point, instead of leaving him at home every time). Maybe we’ll see you there!?