We’re halfway through 2018 and London’s bar and pub scene has seen plenty of new openings in just the first seven months. From lavish Champagne bars to basement speakeasies, here are our favourite new bar and pub launches of 2018 so far for you to have a drink, or two or three, in.
1 Hide Below, Mayfair (top)
Why go: This cool basement bar forms part of Ollie Dabbous’ Hide and is home to a glorious Gaudí-esque corkscrew staircase for discerning drinkers to glide down before taking a seat at the sweeping oak counter and ordering a drink, such as The Fallen Madonna (gin, pea shoots, aloe vera, lemon and tonic).
Must order: The Pisco, pink peppercorn and rhubarb high ball
85 Piccadilly, W1J 7NB
2 The American Bar at the Stafford, St James’s
Why go: This renowned establishment is one of the few survivors from the slew of luxe London hotel bars that opened in the 1930s to cater to high-society’s thirst for US-style cocktails, and sips such as The Moriarty, made with Tequila, mezcal and blood orange, prove why it has stuck around for so long.
Must order: The Godolphin
The Stafford Hotel, St James’s Place, SW1A 1NJ
3 Champagne Bar and Piano Bar at Kettner’s Townhouse, Soho (above)
Why go: Founded by Napoleon III’s chef Auguste Kettner, this Soho icon is home to a ravishing art deco horseshoe Champagne Bar and a brand-new, similarly romantic piano bar, which is perfect for a lavish drinking experience.
Must order: A cocktail made with Ruinart Sparkling Sazerac
29 Romilly Street, W1D 5HP
4 The Mulwray, Soho
Why go: Boasting fairly-priced drinks, this compact, mellowly lit cocktail lounge is reminiscent of a genteel 1930s study in powder blue and Champagne pink. Sip on the likes of a Lucky in Kentucky with bourbon, spiced syrup and aromatic bitters.
Must order: The Tequila and orange sherbet fizz
28 Rupert Street, W1D 6DJ
5 Nuala Bar, City
Why go: This darkly lit conspiratorial cellar is actually a modern Irish pub that is home to a cracking collection of whiskies, well-kept Guinness, satisfyingly strong cocktails and savoury bar snacks such as oysters and croquettes.
Must order: A Manhattan made from aged single malt Armagnac, Palo Cortado sherry, squash-seed oil and honey
70-74 City Road, EC1Y 2BJ
6 Bar Three, Spitalfields (above)
Why go: Occupying the basement of modern brasserie Blixen, this night-time-only den groups nine signature cocktails into three sections – ‘Light’, ‘Medium’, and ‘Full’ – hence the name. On our visit, we were particularly impressed by the ‘medium’ Tequila highball.
Must order: A ‘full’ Woodford Reserve bourbon with milk-washed Earl Grey and cedar
65a Brushfield Street E1 6AA
7 Prosecco House, London Bridge
Why go: Kristina Issa’s smart 1950s-style lounge satisfies Britain’s seemingly insatiable thirst for Italian bubbles with over-two dozen examples of top-grade Prosecco and spumante to order.
Must order: A glass of the elegant Valdobbiadene Superiore Extra Dry
1 Crown Square, One Tower Bridge, SE1 2SE
8 The Leopard Bar and Cigar Lounge, Bloomsbury
Why go: Resplendent in leopard-print fabric, this reassuringly old school, family-run hotel bar blends elements of both traditional Britain and colonial South Africa for an international cocktail experience, without having to leave the capital.
Must order: The signature Leopard Print cocktail
The Montague Hotel, 15 Montague Street, WC1B 5BJ
9 Fitz’s, Bloomsbury (above)
Why go: Designed by Russell Sage, the look of this bar is reminiscent of a 19th-century Romantic baronial with a repertoire of modern cocktails to order.
Must order: The Golden Echo
The Principal, Corner of Guilford Street and Russell Square, WC1B 5BE
10 Broadleaf, City
Why go: Owned by the masterminds behind other City spots Aviary and The Botanist Broadgate Circle, Broadleaf boasts botanical motifs and cosy booths to lounge in while enjoying craft ales and cocktails.
Must order: A spiced rum and passion-fruit Mule
Tower 42, 25 Old Broad Street, EC2N 1HN
11 George’s Bar, St Pancras
Why go: Set in Victorian-style chambers, this gothic revivalist lounge serves seasonal cocktails and a jaw-droppingly gorgeous atmosphere to enjoy while drinking.
Must order: A lavender-infused gin and sloe gin, elderflower and hibiscus stir
St Pancras Renaissance Hotel, Euston Road, NW1 2AR
12 The Prince Arthur, Hackney (above)
Why go: Owned by Andy Bird, co-owner of Happiness Forgets and saviour of The Chesham Arms, this belting backstreet boozer is home to a fine range of hoppy drinks that are worth a try.
Must order: A pint of local beer from The Five Points Brewing Co
95 Forest Road, E8 3BH
13 Petite Chambre, Fitzrovia
Why go: As the lounge bar for Michelin-starred Pied à Terre, Petite Chambre boasts a selection of fine cocktails and a wine list, while its 1950s-style décor gives the bar an added charm.
Must order: The Alfred
Upstairs at Pied à Terre, 34 Charlotte Street, W1T 2NH
14 Moonshine Minnie’s, Shoreditch
Why go: As the basement dive bar at The Blues Kitchen, Moonshine Minnie’s is a self-contained speakeasy boasting a menu filled with classic and twisted American cocktails, such as the Burnt Old Pear Fashioned which mixes bourbon, apple liqueur, Angostura bitters and burnt pear.
Must order: A banana Daiquiri
The Blues Kitchen Shoreditch, 134-146 Curtain Road
15 Vijay’s Speakeasy Bar, Fitzrovia (above)
Why go: As a namesake tribute to the whirlwind love affair between rogue gangster Vijay Kapur and his English high-society lover, Lady Charlotte, this speakeasy’s drinks are as enticing as the couple’s romance.
Must order: A Manhattan made with Monkey Shoulder whisky
93 Charlotte Street, W1T 4PY
In need of another drink? Check out our list of the best bars in London, conveniently categorised by style and location to meet all your drinking needs.