23 August 2014

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Best London bars for alfresco bubbles


alfresco bubbles_aqua terrace_2012 - 1006_Aqua_nueva-main-terrace.jpgChampagne is the perfect summer thirst-quencher: cool, crisp and brimming with soothingly satisfying bubbles, it is unquestionably an aristocrat among alfresco tipples. Very few drinks do so much to slake a thirst while lifting the spirits in such a civilised way, especially when the British sun deigns to shine. With this in mind, Square Meal has rounded up 10 of the best oases in London, places with great outside space and a decent Champagne offering, where you can indulge in the spirit of summer to the full.

Aqua, Soho

Three rooftop terraces weave around this chic spot high above Regent Street, where fine sushi at Aqua Kyoto and modern Spanish tapas at Aqua Nueva (terrace pictured, top right) form a tasty triumvirate along with the Aqua Spirit bar. Go for the citrus-splashed breakfast Champagne cocktail from the ‘Twisted Bubbles’ list or simply sit back with a bottle of Ruinart Brut Rosé and enjoy great alfresco views across the West End.

Bleeding Heart. Farringdon

Tantalisingly hidden away in an historic courtyard in Farringdon, this warren of a restaurant, bistro, tavern and medieval crypt serves up honest Gallic cooking with a serious, global wine list to boot. One of London’s most charming spots for summer noshing on the terrace, pairing tasty bistro classics with any number of well-chosen Champagnes.

alfresco bubbles_Boundary rooftop_2012 - Boundary_rooftop_resized2.jpg2.jpgBoundary Rooftop, Shoreditch

The contrast between the urban groove of surrounding Shoreditch and the almost rustic chic of Boundary Rooftop’s grill and garden (pictured, left) makes for a perfect summer bolt-hole, with fab 360° views of the surrounding City skyline. The well-priced, 620-bin wine list has a wealth of grower and big-name Champagnes, plus an uplifting spread of fizzes by the glass, such as Besserat de Bellefon Brut NV for a modest tenner.

Coq d’Argent, City

With its spotlessly manicured roof garden lording it over the heart of the City, this grand Gallic diner and swish bar provides a glamorous summer watering hole for financial wheelers and dealers looking to unwind. Champagne is a firm favourite here, with a serious selection among the 600 wines providing plenty of top-end quaffing on the likes of Roederer Cristal.

Frederick’s, Islington

Hidden behind the antiques arcade that is Camden Passage, and long an elegant Islington favourite, this wholly civilised French-leaning restaurant also boasts a serene garden a mere cork’s flight from the hustle of Upper Street. Frederick’s is well known for its wine list, too, with a good selection of Champagnes at reasonable prices, starting with the likes of Thienot Brut NV, a snip at less than £50 a bottle.

Le Pont de la Tour, Butler's Wharf

Power diners, romantic idyllers and bon vivants continue to flock here for a winning combination of seafood-led, upmarket brasserie dishes and probably the best riverside views anywhere along the Thames. The Champagne list is as mouthwatering as it is extensive, with a dozen rosés alone, and there is something to fit every palate and budget. Perfect to wash down the signature plateau de fruits de mers.

Proud Camden

This 200-year-old former horse hospital now stables a hedonistic music-driven crew, but the glass-walled outside terrace is a perfect chill-out zone for kicking back and eyeballing the assorted wildlife of Camden. It’s a hip, quintessentially NW1 venue where the regulars lubricate the alfresco summer BBQ action with generous side orders of cocktails and copious Champagne.

Ransome’s Dock, Battersea

Martin Lam’s riverside restaurant has an imaginative, well-priced wine list that vinophiles adore. Add in tasty modern European food, plus a charming riverside terrace, and it’s no wonder that this is a firm summer favourite with the wine trade itself. Whether a half-bottle of ‘house’ Gallimard Père et Fils Brut Réserve NV at £25, or a magnum of Krug Grand Cuvée at £210, there’s plenty to wet the whistle here.

The Ritz, St James's

alfresco bubbles_Trafalgar Vista Bar_2012 - 1007_Trafalgar_Vista-Bar-(2).jpg

There are few more delightful spots than the terrace at The Ritz for escaping the hubbub of London, and perhaps fewer still that simply demand – politely, of course – that you drink Champagne. The list, as expected, is eye-wateringly long and packed with appropriately worthy names, but on The Ritz terrace overlooking the calming green oasis of St James’s Park, vintage fizz has to be the order of the day.

Vista at the Trafalgar Hotel, Trafalgar Square

You can’t but help feel on top of the world at this hidden rooftop gem of a bar (pictured, right) overlooking Nelson’s Column, the lions of Trafalgar Square and The National Gallery. Champagne and Champagne-infused cocktails are de rigeur here, especially on a balmy evening as the sun goes down over the heart of the West End.

This feature was published in the summer issue of Square Meal Lifestyle 2012.

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