There’s something about the sparkle of Christmas that makes it the most wonderful time of the year to enjoy Champagne. But don’t wait until the festivities of the big day itself: here are the best places in London to pop open a bottle – and the Champagnes to drink in them
Texture Restaurant and Champagne bar, Marylebone
What to drink: Piper-Heidsieck Rare 2002
Champagne is the main draw at Texture’s sleek and comfortable bar, with a 100-strong list including five pourers alongside many satisfyingly obscure marques and a neat assortment of swish cocktails. Offbeat bar snacks include bacon popcorn and crisp wafers of cod skin.
(£20 a glass, £119 a bottle)
Prestige fizz from the top vintage of the past decade, near its peak of complexity. It’s two-thirds Chardonnay from top crus like Villers-Marmery, Oger and Trépail, which brings richness, power and vivid acidity to the blend. Initial toasty aromas lead to a silken mid-palate, with exotic notes of pineapple and ginger spice, before a long finish.
The Goring, Victoria
The Goring is a townhouse hotel that feels more like a country house, complete with cosy drawing room, terraces for balmier weather and a garden with ducks waddling across the lawn. The bar’s line-up of Champagne is astounding and the barmen are adept at mixing and shaking anything that takes your fancy.
What to drink: Henriot Blanc de Blancs Brut NV (£95)
The all-Chardonnay signature Henriot cuvée uses other hotspots for this grape – Montgueux, Trépail and Vitry – to complement Côte des Blancs grands crus fruit. It’s aged significantly longer to bring out the different elements of steely citrus freshness, stone-fruit richness and evolving palate texture. A delight.
Archer Street, Soho
Aimed at Soho’s aperitivo market (6-7.30pm), Archer Street also offers a full quota of upmarket drinking possibilities from mid-afternoon onwards, while staff are liable to burst into synchronised singing/dancing by way of a camp floor-show. For winter, the Piste pop-up in the basement is tricked out like a luxury ski lodge.
What to drink: Billecart-Salmon Brut Rosé NV (£19.90 a glass, £99 a bottle, £198 a magnum)
The epitome of classy pink fizz with its pale colour, lovely raspberry fruit aromas and creamy soft palate, balanced against a fresh clean, fruit acidity. Enticingly moreish and a great aperitif.
Dukes Bar, St James’s
It might be best known as the home of London’s most expertly made Martinis but this hideaway hotel bar is also an in-the-know rendezvous for Champagne. White-jacketed staff deliver silky-smooth table service in the cosy lounge – and unlike a martini, they’ll let you have more than two glasses of fizz.
What to drink: Pommery Grand Cru 2006 (£120)
Made from the ripe 2006 harvest, this is a harmonious 50/50 blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir sourced entirely from seven grand cru sites. Mature notes of brioche and fresh pastry lead to a generous, fruit-rich mid-palate and elegant finish.
Bob Bob Ricard, Soho
Where else to drink Champagne but a restaurant and bar famous for its ‘Press for Champagne buttons’? Ostentation is blingy BBR’s primary selling point, but a palpable sense of enjoyment lends warmth to the glitz and gold, which is everywhere you look.
What to drink: Moët & Chandon Grand Vintage 2008 (£135)
This 2008 majors on a bright, grapefruit-lifted zestiness, more linear than either the 2006 or 2004 that preceded it. But with time in the glass a distinctive – almost exotic – cinnamon spiciness appears. While the tang of refreshing acidity is immediately appealing, it will improve with age.
Searcys St Pancras Grand, King's Cross
Home to the longest Champagne bar in Europe, this Searcys outpost under the vast arched roof of St Pancras restores the glamour to train travel. Imbibe some continental sparkle sipping a glass of fizz while you watch the Eurostar departing to Paris, Brussels and the French Alps.
What to drink: Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label Brut NV (£92)
A structured, full-bodied Pinot Noir-based blend, tweaked with a small oak-fermented element added, to bring some textural richness and complexity to the mid-palate, while retaining the keynote freshness that north-facing crus like Verzy and Verzenay bring to the blending table.
Novikov Lounge, Mayfair
It might best known for its contemporary-looking Asian restaurant on the ground floor but head downstairs and you’ll find Novikov’s Lounge: a sumptuously furnished space where the OTT glamour suits the high-rolling clientele of this Mayfair hotspot.
What to drink: Armand de Brignac Ace of Spades Brut Gold (£620)
This three-vintage blend (currently 2012, 2010 and 2009) is showing very attractively, with a hint of toastiness. The generosity imparted by the ripe ‘09 vintage element is evident in the creamy rich mid-palate, while the top class 2012 harvest brings a lovely balance. Impressive.
Amuse Bouche, Fulham
With its stripped-back walls and low-hanging lights, Amuse Bouche cuts it as an informal and upbeat spot to quaff high-class bubbly. A handful of rosés offer something different, as does a selection of classic Champagne cocktails. Nibble on oyster nuggets.
What to drink: Lanson Père et Fils (£54)
Extra lees ageing, for at least 40 months, helps bring out the stone-fruit character – think peaches and apricots – of this three-way blend, while the trademark Lanson freshness and zip is helped by eschewing malolactic fermentation. There’s an attractive honeyed note on the finish too.