There’s no rest for the wicked (drinkers) of London and nobody knows that better than Keith Barker-Main, our very own sip soldier and bar botherer extraordinaire. We’ve been keeping tabs on his movements across the capital this month, then when that became too exhausting (at his drinking pace, that did not take long) we asked him to email us updates instead. So here it is in all its vodka-splashed glory: our freshest batch of London drinkspiration to see you through to the weekend.
Balans Soho Society, Kensington (above)
“Rebranded and redecorated, this is the first of Balans’ five London branches to be rebooted. A cocktail session could commence with Captain Redleg’s Afternoon Tea (a spiced-rum fruit cooler) or Apple & Pears (King of Soho gin, pear liqueur and apple juice)…"
Brahms & Liszt, Clapton (below)
“Stylish, compact and fun, this is a postmodern British off-licence to end them all, containing everything you need to enjoy great liquor at home. Brahms & Liszt also has a dinky bar serving sampler-size high-end hooch and wines on tap.”
The Dolls House, Peckham
“This whimsical caper for kidults has quickly become a busy destination for dolled-up locals. ‘The Parlour’s’ bar-staff conjure up tart Mimosas (gin and pink grapefruit), Aviations and French Martinis from a list of (£8) classic cocktails.”
The Gipsy Queen, Belsize Park (above)
“The owners of the nearby Grafton have grabbed this previously scruffy boozer by the scruff of its neck, restoring the pub to its 1940s heyday. At the handsome stripped-wood Victorian bar, lovely London ales from Fourpure, Truman’s, Camden and Hackney breweries figure among the draught beers and ciders.”
The Gregorian, Bermondsey
“In 1559, Bermondsey’s burghers raised their tankards here to celebrate the coronation of Elizabeth I. This pub is actually a whippersnapper however, rebuilt soon after the Blitz and reopened under new ownership this summer.”
The Opium Den at Nam Long, Kensington (above)
“The Flaming Ferrari cocktail was named after a bunch of high-rolling investment bankers at this flamboyant Paris-Vietnam restaurant. Nam Long has been a haunt of royals, roués and racy women since the 1990s, but the inscrutable Opium Den – a basement late-late lounge – is still a haute Chelsea hangout worth knowing.”
The Piano Works, Clerkenwell (above)
“A sassy basement spot, with the feel of a 1950s Greenwich Village jazz cellar produced by leather upholstery, intimate banquette-lined vaulted booths and on-point barmen shaking out mean Martinis. Jot down your request on a paper napkin and the band will oblige.”
Toddy Shop at Chai Ki, Canary Wharf (below)
“In their native Kerala, toddy shops are routinely set in makeshift shacks, but you’ll find this one occupying a concrete shell amid the soaring canyons of Canary Wharf. Nevertheless, both drinks and street food here successfully evoke the subcontinent….”
Turntable, Covent Garden
“Rare groove, Motown and disco – all on vinyl – provide the funky soundtrack at this new bar-diner and club, ranging from Diana Ross to Soul II Soul, whose original member, DJ Jazzi Q, designs the bar’s playlist.”
“An engaging, smart, wee wine bar with a focus on artisan wine-producers, several of them specialising in often-overlooked appellations, sold at retail plus £10 corkage.”
If you need even more bars to choose from (no judgement, we understand), check out our lists of the best bars in Bloomsbury & Marylebone, Chelsea, Covent Garden, Mayfair, Shoreditch and Soho.
This article was published 29 July 2015