Top 5 New and Notable London Cocktail bars
London has always been a great place to enjoy some expertly hand-mixed drinks, but it seems in the last few years the pace of quality new openings has really stepped up a gear. It’s no longer enough just to throw a couple of ingredients together; the top bars now infuse their own vodka, steep their own sloe gin and craft their own bespoke garnishes. Here are my pick of the best of the best.
Tom Dixon’s interior, a masterpiece of intimate lighting and cool retro furniture, is impressive even before you sample the product on offer. But the team behind White Lyan in Dalston haven’t set up shop in the Mondrian on the South Bank just to look cool – the drinks are invariably top notch, my own particular favourite the Concrete Sazerac which comes with a brilliant (and tasty) surprise at the bottom of the glass…
It’s what White Lyan doesn’t rather than does do that first catches the attention. They don’t use ice – very unusual for any licensed premises, never mind a cocktail bar – or use any fresh fruit juices, sugar, or other perishable products. You can’t order off menu, and there are hardly any branded products to be seen on their shelves. But fortunately, such are the quality of the drinks, all that soon seems supremely unimportant.
Peg & Patriot
One of my favourite “hidden” central London drinking spots is the Talented Mr Fox above One Leicester Square restaurant. Matt Whiley, who filled the menu there with his wacky creations (a Bloody Mary made with real blood, I was once memorably served) is now doing his thing at the bar attached to the Typing Room and it’s an absolute blast – the drinks are unusual but never less than enjoyable. Try the Marmite Martini…
Seymour’s Parlour, Zetter Townhouse Marylebone
Tony Conigliaro knows his drinks, and fresh from working with Bruno Loubet at Grain Store and the Zetter Townhouse Clerkenwell he’s now got a whole new menu to fill with his seasonal and eclectic creations. The “Royale Royale” is my own favourite, a glass of champagne enhanced with a liqueur made from, er, champagne (what’s not to like there), but there’s not much not to like on the rest of the menu and the snacks are good too (Mr Trotters pork crackling).
The second Matt Whiley bar on the list, which shows you just how much his influence is spreading right now. And – at least before the word gets out – this is another low-key drinking den in central London, ideal for escaping the noises and crowds elsewhere. All the pre-mixed drinks are good, but make room for the Beignet, with house doughnut vodka, fennel sugar and egg; only 30-40 a week are made. lockhartlondon.com
Browse our deals for bars in London.
Over the seven years Chris Pople has been writing the Cheese and Biscuits blog, he has written about nearly 500 different restaurants, which is far too many by anyone’s standards. During that time he has been lucky enough to be picked as one of the top food blogs in the Times, New Statesman and Esquire magazine, and for the last three years running has been named as one of London’s 1000 Most Influential people. He’s probably in a restaurant right now, scouring the menu for spelling mistakes and waiting for a martini.