From high-flying cocktail bars in Mayfair to louche basement dens in Soho, Scotch whisky in the City and French spirits in Bethnal Green, the capital’s drinking scene is as full-on as ever. Here we hand-pick the top-rated bars and pubs our expert reviewer, Keith Barker-Main, has visited this month, so if you’re looking for a new watering hole, you’ve come to the right place. Scroll on for five fresh bars which are all well worth visiting.
Words: Keith Barker-Main
The Aviator Bar, Mayfair
What: The Aviator is the newly rebranded 1960s-style cocktail bar of swish modern British restaurant Hush. ‘Destination’ cocktails are themed by country and detailed on mocked-up boarding cards; many are delivered with a theatrical flourish. Smoking Señorita (Spain), a suave take on a Manhattan, arrives in a cloud of smoke, from under a cloche, while Rihannatini (Bahamas) comes with mascarpone mousse and a mini chocolate pot.
Where: 8 Lancashire Court, W1S 1EY
Coupette, Bethnal Green
What: A bar counter inlaid with countless old centime coins, and a drinks list highlighting Calvados, Armagnac, ‘cidre’ and ‘fortified kirs’, indicate the Parisian inspiration at this first solo bar from former Beaufort Bar head bartender Chris Moore. The gimmick-free cocktails are also a tour de force, a too the promise soon of a French kitchen sending out the likes of croquet monsieur and truffled cream leeks.
Where: 423 Bethnal Green Road, E2 0AN
Kaleidoscope Whisky Bar, City
What: Opened by the Scottish Malt Whisky Society, this handsome new bar, housed in a Georgian former bonded warehouse, is freely accessible to non-members. Some mighty malts (from a collection of 200) are showcased in glass units; single drams go from just over £5 to around ten times that amount, while whisky cocktails are joined on the list by non-whisky classics. Bar snacks include haggis mac’n’cheese.
Where: 9a Devonshire Square, EC2M 4YN
Tea Room at Bun House, Soho
What: Descend to Bun House’s theatrically louche basement and you’ll discover this well-observed homage to hedonistic Hong Kong dens of yore, all vintage jukebox tracks of 1960s Kowloon divas and waitresses in cheongsams wafting between verandah chairs. Exquisitely presented cocktails are built on premium Chinese base spirits; otherwise, order Chinese beers, teas, plum or rice wines, and snack from Cantonese sharing plates.
Where: 23 Greek Street, W1D 4DZ
What: This casual independent wine shop and bar stocks a winning range of organic and bio-dynamic wines to go – or to drink at the island bar. House Pays d’Oc Marsanne (dry and satisfying, with hints of spice and pear) underpins a selection of around three dozen loftier wines by the glass. Dine informally on seasonal food with a pronounced French accent: charcuterie platter bar snacks or daily mains such as fresh pea risotto.
Where: 69 Garnet Street, E1W 3QS
Determined to try all of the capital’s tastiest sips? Begin your quest with our pick of the best cocktail bars in London.
This article was published 21 July 2017