198 Shaftesbury Avenue, London, WC2H 8JL (Map)
While it may sound like a highly polished, cerebral kind of a haunt, Freud is in fact a bare-bones drinking den in a Covent Garden basement that’s small on creature comforts but big on spirit. When the modest seating runs out, the clientele simply perch on the slate steps by the old piano and get on with the serious business of drinking. While Freud features regular exhibitions of art (seemingly hosting the ‘what the heck is THAT?’ movement on our visit), the attention of the groups of Italian and American twenty-somethings around us is firmly fixed on the blackboard above the bar, on which 35 cocktails are scratched; all generous with their measures. The stereo piled high with CDs seems to play staff favourites, so it’s worth tipping well if you object to spirited Latin music or Italian hip-hop. Alternatively, there’s live jazz on Sundays.