Check out London’s excellent choice of bars that serve great Martinis with Squaremeal’s selection. The Martini cocktail is a staple which mixes gin or vodka with vermouth, given cult status thanks to James Bond’s preference to enjoy them shaken, not stirred. Sip on a Martini at one of London’s top bars with Squaremeal’s carefully selected list of the best bars for Martinis in London. Every one of the bars featured in Squaremeal’s list of London’s best bars for Martinis has been tried and tested by drinks experts and our readers, so check out the reviews and book a seat at the bar with Squaremeal today.
It’s all change at this neighbourhood watering hole once synonymous with Portobello Road Gin No.171 (now made just north of here). The Star has been a Notting Hill fixture since 1740. Its new owners – also behind Soho’s Compton Cross – have stripped back the snug ground-floor lounge to appealing effect, courtesy of honey-colour washed brick, chocolate banquettes, and caramel-tone lighting. Head here for craft beers and competitively priced cocktails that rely on infusions bitters, syrups and liquors made in-house. Typical calls include a rosemary and cardamom-infused pink peppercorn Gin Sour and a Caribbean-style cousin of the Espresso Martini. Otherwise, choose classics such as a Brooklyn or Vieux Carré. DJs play at weekends and the upstairs ‘apartment’ (available for private hire) can squeeze in up to 30. Peckish? Given notice, The Star will lay on cheese or charcuterie platters, meatiness from Patty & Bun or pintxos from Pix.
Few drinking dens in the capital can match the effortless glamour of The Connaught Bar. Designed by the late great David Collins and inspired by 1920s Cubism, it's a shimmering shrine to cocktails and home to a world-class team of bartenders. Their ‘expressions’ menu is a showcase for creativity, featuring on-trend ingredients and drinks inspired by natural elements. We fell for a Heart of Gold (a refreshing long mix of Amaro Lucano, lichen-aromatised Noilly Prat, Ruche, rhubarb soda and oregano blossom), but the jewel in The Connaught’s crown is its sleek Martini trolley. ‘The secret of a perfect Martini is the sound,’ smiles the mixologist as he slowly stirs Tanqueray 10 over blocks of hand-cut ice, mixed with the house vermouth and a choice of seasonal bitters to create a bespoke sip for every guest. A superb selection of whiskies and decadent canapés such as black truffle and Comté fritters with truffle mayo are further reasons to add The Connaught Bar to your ‘must-visit’ list.
The Connaught Bar at the Connaught
The American Bar opened in 1893, when glamorous 'American-style' mixed cocktails were all the rage, and has played host to a procession of legendary bartenders – not least Harry Craddock, author of the iconic Savoy Cocktail Book back in 1930. Today you'll find Erik Lorincz behind the stick, heading up a team that's won pretty much every bar award going. The theme for their 2017 cocktail menu (it changes every year) is a regional tour around Britain, featuring creative mixes such as Arthur's Seat with Royal Brackla 16 Year Old whisky and the herbaceous Heathland History, with Gin Mare and mushroom-infused vermouth. Attention to detail is what really sets this bar apart, from its vintage decor and bespoke glassware to bartenders who remember your name and favourite drink. Shut your eyes; soak up the delicious buzz, tinkling piano and clinking of ice in cocktail shakers – and be transported back to the golden age of cocktails.
The American Bar at The Savoy
The tasselled lampshades, mahogany panelling and plush carpet may feel vintage, but this little bar has only been around for a decade – considerably less time than the venerable Rules restaurant below, founded in 1798. No matter; the mood here is precisely what you'd expect of a bar attached to London's longest-running restaurant, with impeccable old-school service and dependable classic cocktails, including the Sazerac and Clover Club. Happily, head bartender Mike Cook is no slave to tradition, so expect modern mixes such as Dick Bradsell's Bramble too, alongside a list of eight signature serves, including the sparkling Normandini (calvados, peach and sparkling Crémant wine) or Eau de Savoja made with rare 1960s Amaro Savoja. There's a knock-out selection of whiskies too, ticking off American rye and bourbon as well as some iconic single malts – great with bar food such as venison carpaccio.
Upstairs at Rules
Like an upscale, arty members club that’s open to allcomers, the quintessentially cool basement bar at Hix Soho is as sharp as a Paul Smith Paisley shirt, as comfy as John Lobb ankle boots, as classic as a camel Crombie and as relaxed as your best, lived-in denims – the sort of wardrobe that understated core Hixters cleave to. Hix’s similarly stylish cocktails are a mix of familiar friends (Hanky Panky, Zombie, Gin Punch à la Terrington) and future ‘bezzies’ such as Dorset Donkey (a Black Cow vodka, cherry and sage mule). True to his West Country roots, the chef/ patron's list also includes cider-based swallows such as Temperley Sour. Prices are Soho average for above-average ‘snax’ of whipped squash with ricotta and toasted walnuts, steak tartare, chips with curry sauce, rock samphire pakoras or Essex cockle popcorn – a steal at three for a tenner.
Mark's Bar at Hix
As Dick's Bar at The Atlantic, this Soho hangout was Cool Britannia's default cocktail lounge. The achingly hip crowd may have migrated out east, but this polished birch-panelled bar at Corbin & King's original Beaux Arts brasserie is always a joy to visit – not least for its dreamy art-deco interior, divine bar and gorgeous Martinis. Discover your inner Fred Astaire (ol' twinkle-toes once drank here) as your taste buds tango with retro tipples such as Aviation and Millionaire – sips that date back to the days when aviation was strictly for millionaires. If you want to get squiffy, we also suggest asking the barman to rustle up classics such as Hanky Panky and Hotsy Totsy (a vodka, raspberry and ginger job). Be sure to check out the Crazy Coqs cabaret and bar next door, another life-affirming space worthy of a 1930s Busby Berkeley extravaganza.
Bar Américain at Brasserie Zédel
This hotel-based London outpost of the internationally acclaimed Dry Martini bar group is dazzlingly decked out with a rather random mix of jewel-coloured sofas, patterns and neon, offset by chequered floors and eclectic modern art. You may need a drink to deal with the decor, but you’ve come to the right place as the list comes courtesy of world-class mixologist Javier de las Muelas. The signature dry Martinis are generously served and made to order (choose from an impressive collection of 101 gins), but more original creations are also well worth a punt. Try the spicy Moonwalk (Glenlivet 12-year-old, pineapple, lemon, fig syrup and hot chilli pepper droplets) or the sage- and rosemary-infused Spanish 43 made with 43 Liquor and topped with Freixenet Cordon Negro cava. To eat, Dry Martini serves tapas (of course), and you can also come here for a Mar-Tea-Ni afternoon tea.
Dry Martini by Javier De Las Muelas