Gerry’s Wines and Spirits is one of the last bastions of old Soho, a West-End warren of alleys and side streets that spanned decades as an exotic urban village, filled with artists, actors, gangsters and hedonism.
Located at 74 Old Compton Street, our alcohol emporium is something of an institution; an old curiosity shop stuck in a décor time warp, crammed to bursting with hand-labelled bottles of all shapes, sizes and designs.
Our customers are as eclectic as our shelves. Apart from an army of regulars and tourists, specialist staff and alcohol connoisseurs come from miles around for the ultimate ingredient to concoct a cocktail, and many a famous face has stepped, or even stumbled, across the threshold.
Gerry’s was founded in 1984 by Michael Kyprianou, a Greek Cypriot who is such a symbol of old Soho, he should one day merit a blue plaque. Michael began his career in 1959, managing the now defunct Del Monico’s off-licence, five doors down at 64 Old Compton Street.
Before Gerry’s came into existence, Del Monico’s held the crown as the widest stockists of spirits in the UK. Much of that eclectic selection didn’t come direct from an international supplier – but from British Customs.
Those were the days when customs made up their own lax import laws. Holidaymakers returning from their foreign excursions with too many bottles of the indigenous spirit would have them seized, but instead of pouring then away, customs would ring up Michael with a list of the confiscated liquors. He could buy them for a few pennies each, provided he sent his own truck to do the pick up.
In 1960’s London, the cosmopolitan kudos of rare brews was so great that the queues for Del Monico’s would spill out all over the street and police with loud hailers would be called in to keep them in line!
Michael is now retired, but he still can’t keep away from the shop, his old staff or the customers, and can be found at Gerry’s almost every day.
Our staff have over 60 years of combined experience in the drinks trade, most of which has been served at Gerry’s. If you’re looking for the obscure or even ridiculous we’re the ones to talk to. Not only will we surprise you by being familiar with your choice of rare spirit, but we’ll probably have three or four different types of it.
We usually have at least six bottles open daily, so that we can share our tastings with our customers. On Friday and Saturday afternoons, these sessions are more specialised – so come in and soak up the infamous Gerry’s atmosphere and with our wide range of miniatures, unusual bottle shapes and designs there’s something for everyone. Try some Croatian Kruskovac Pear Liqueur or a weird Tea Liqueur from the Tatra Mountains in Slovakia , all washed down with Unicum, a herbal digestif from Hungary!