Living in the capital city of England (if not the world), you’d be forgiven for struggling to keep on top of new bars bursting onto the scene on a daily basis. Fortunately, we’re here to make sure you lot are always in the know, and lounge lizard Keith Barker-Main is your man. So don’t waste your precious evenings in a desiccated watering hole, here’s a round-up of bars that have recently rocked Keith’s boat so you can avoid those likely to sink without a trace… We’ve got all areas, wallets and occasions covered, so there’s absolutely no excuse for traipsing to your local boozer (again) this week.
Black Dice, Piccadilly (above)
'The styling is all 1960s rock peacock: a blend of Jimi Hendrix trippy, Marianne Faithfull cool and Mick Jagger swagger. Roost at the bar’s copper top or loll on leather sofas and sip lip-pucker Sours, and signature drinks such as Inked Daiquiris (with Demerara charcoal) [until it] morphs into a sexy late-late party…'
Blind Spot, Covent Garden (below)
'If you’ve got it, The St Martin’s Lane Hotel’s bar is where to flaunt it. This sister to The Mondrian and The Sanderson has a ‘secret’ door behind its lobby’s tea counter, which swings open to reveal a gilded closet with oddly lumpen furniture. Effervescent with bling bubbles, Blind Spot is where to bender it like The Beckhams.'
The Canonbury Tavern, Islington
'What The Canonbury’s one-time regular, Evelyn Waugh, would have made of its 2015 makeover is debatable, but locals seem cock-a-hoop about Harrison Design’s 21st-century retro-chic treatment of this imposing Grade II-listed 1840s tavern...'
Clerkenwell & Social, Clerkenwell (above)
'Printing, a common Clerkenwell trade in Victorian times, inspires the bookish, if not novel, theme at this new duplex DJ bar from the owners of nearby Barsmith. Dickens had his Artful Dodger meet Oliver Twist on Clerkenwell Green adjacent, but the robbing rascal would need to pick more than a pocket or two to raise the £8.95 for a cocktail here…'
Fu Manchu, Clapham
'Fictional criminal mastermind Dr Fu Manchu, the inspiration behind this hangar-like venue, ascribed his longevity to the secret elixir he consumed. His namesake bar – which combines the roles of cocktail joint, dim sum parlour, nightclub and live music lounge – also deals in bracing pick-me-ups.'
Kansas Smitty’s, Hackney (above)
'Kansas Smitty’s is a 1950s-style beatnik bunker where there’s barely room to swing a cat. It’s an intimate space: dark, steamy, raw, and hitting all the right notes, especially on Wednesdays when the eponymous owners showcase their musical talents…'
The Lucky Pig, Fulham (below)
'Was a 1930s Louisiana bordello considered too steamy a theme for Fulham’s genteel folk? Lucky Pig’s cocktail lounge – all pristine white, washed brick and jewel-bright velvets – is a far less louche (or atmospheric) proposition than its big sister in Fitzrovia.'
Pamela, Dalston (below)
'Pam’s pared-down decor relies on style-conscious locals to provide the colour. Squeeze on to a mushroom leather banquette and watch Dalston’s ‘Dazed & Confused’ strut the catwalk from pavement to bijou bar.'
Upstairs at The Ten Bells, Shoreditch
'Changes have been rung at this renowned Spitalfields pub, though its history, both ancient and modern, is hard to escape. The first-floor dining room – a peeling, Dickensian space with louche appeal – once played host Annie Chapman and Mary Jane Kelly before their…demise at the hands of Jack The Ripper.'
West Thirty-Six, Notting Hill (below)
'Beach Blanket Babylon’s Rob Newmark again nails the new Notting Hill look at this rebooted boozer on increasingly chichi Golborne Road. West Thirty-Six’s cocktail bar and disco room consists of a series of first-floor salons. The pose is Made In Chelsea’s Mark-Francis meets Marc Bolan…the stuff of Tatler’s party pages.'
This article was published 23 June 2015