The capital’s bar scene is as revved up as ever, keeping our expert bar reviewer, Keith Barker-Main, extremely busy. Here we hand-pick the best-rated bars he's 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 and Ben McCormack
Bar Termini Centrale, Marylebone
What: Centrale, Tony Conigliaro’s follow-up to Bar Termini, is likewise inspired by those smart buffets common to grand Italian stations. Although it lacks the cosy intimacy of the Soho original, Centrale is on track to succeed – thanks to first-class drinks including martinis, spritzes and various bottle-aged Negronis that include a bergamot-flavoured twist on the classic recipe. Daytime coffees (very strong) and pastries are another top shout, as too suave Italian wines.
Where: 31 Duke Street, W1U 1LG
What: Co-owned by one of Bordeaux’s Château Margaux dynasty, upmarket wine bar Clarette occupies a landmark mock-Tudor pile that was once The William Wallace pub – hence the beautiful stained-glass depictions of Scottish-town coats of arms. An extensive wine list is stuffed with costly grand vins from Bordeaux and big-ticket Burgundies – plus Pays d’Oc Viognier sold at pub prices. To eat, nibble on cheeses and charcuterie plates or more substantial braised octopus with capers, olives and tomatoes.
Where: 44 Blandford Street, W1U 7HS
Comptoir Café & Wine, Mayfair
What: With classic bistro tables outside and a zinc ‘comptoir’ within, this boho-chic café-bar would look at home in the Parisian quarter of Le Marais. The place is styled à la 1950s provincial France, and is the latest offering from Xavier Rousset (Blandford Comptoir / Cabotte), whose passion for wine is evident downstairs in a scintillating selection that straddles modest Mediterraneans and heavyweight Grands Crus clarets. Start your day with coffee and pastries then brunch on the likes of smoked haddock and watercress omelette.
Where: 21-22 Weighhouse Street, W1K 5LY
Coya Angel Court Pisco Bar, City
What: Peru’s most sought-after export helps fuel this buzzy, bright-hued Inca lounge. As at its Piccadilly sister, Coya Angel Court is dedicated to pisco cocktails; its Pisco Sour (featuring Quebranta pisco) is as authentic a taste of Lima as you’ll find around Liverpool Street. Top of the non-pisco alternatives is a Margarita made with Peruvian red pepper-infused El Jimador Reposado Tequila. Bar snacks also measure up: soft-shell crab with yuzu and aïoli; piquant ox heart; and (deep pockets alert!), Chilean Wagyu sirloin.
Where: 31-33 Throgmorton Street, EC2N 2AT
The Nickel Bar at The Ned, City
What: Designed by Sir Edwin (‘Ned’) Lutyens in the 1920s, the former Midland Bank’s HQ is now London’s most hyped hotel, and The Nickel Bar occupies part of its dimly lit lobby in the resplendent pillared banking hall. Jazz standards are belted out by musicians from a focal bandstand that has thus far also attracted Tinie Tempah, Gary Barlow and Paloma Faith. Mercifully, the acoustics permit easy conversation at the bar, while seated on leather high stools. Bourbons and rye whiskies lead a short list of ‘strong drinks’ at not too sobering prices.
Where: The Ned, 27 Poultry, EC2R 8AJ
Determined to try all of the capital’s tastiest sips? Begin your quest with our pick of the best London bars for Martinis.
This article was published 24 May 2017