A bar doesn't need to fly the rainbow flag or have go-go dancers every night to get BarCock's attention; some venues qualify as de facto gay bars for reasons beyond the obvious. In the case of The Bar at the Courthouse Hotel on Great Marlborough Street, it's the hotel's association with Oscar Wilde that makes this a place of pilgrimage. A hotel for only a decade or so, for a century-and-a-half before that this was Great Marlborough Street Magistrate's Court, the site of many a famous trial and the place where Wilde's ill-fated libel case against the Marquess of Queensberry, who had called him a 'posing Sodomite' (though God knows, BarCock's been called far worse) began in 1895.
But enough with the history lesson, why else should you spend your pink pounds here? For a start, there's the three holding cells, converted into private rooms for groups of up to eight, in which to relive - in your mind only, unless you're particularly exhibitionist - your Jeff Stryker-in-Powertool prison fantasies. There's also a mean cocktail list, with house specials named after some of the famous plaintiffs and prosecuted who've stood in the dock. And finally, there's the location; opposite shopping mecca Liberty, The Bar is an ideal spot for a cocktail break after shopping, and being on the edge of Soho it's the perfect place to kick off an evening on the scene. Whenever you visit, be sure to pause and raise a glass to Oscar.
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