Each month we ask a London expert to give us their Top 5 for the best in the capital's shopping, dining, nightlife and more. Here the elusive BarChick brings you the most iconic cocktail bars in London.
The world’s most famous hotel bar
What's it like? Moonshine makers swapped Prohibition America for London cocktails – the rest is history. With a chic Art Deco vibe, beautiful grand piano and perfectly polished bar and vintage glassware, many classic cocktails originated here. Like Harry Craddock’s signature White Lady (purportedly named after F. Scott Fitzgerald’s wife, Zelda). And you’re in good hands today with World’s Best Bartender winner, smoothie Erik Lorincz.
Who goes there? Legends from Hemingway to Sinatra – these days it’s anyone who’s serious about cocktails. Expect queues (and fussy dress codes).
Why I love it: London’s gone gaga for Gatsby recently, and The American Bar is the real deal; it’s BarChick’s kind of London landmark.
How to find it: The American Bar The Savoy Hotel, Strand, London, WC2R 0EU. 020 7836 4343.
Where cocktails come in golden pineapples
What's it like? Regularly topping world’s best bar lists, it’s the perfect combination of decor, impeccable service and creative cocktails. New seasons bring unique collections (try vegetable vibes with ingredients like mushroom and frankincense), and there’s always a sense of theatre (no boring glasses – instead, unusual containers bring out the flavours). Then there’s the extravagant décor, from floor to ceiling windows and chandeliers aplenty…
Who goes there? No stuffiness here: bartender Alex Kratena is all about fun, guaranteeing an experience for cocktail lovers and newbies alike.
Why I love it: International Bartender of the Year. Bar of the Year. Drinks served in golden pineapples. You can’t go wrong.
How to find it: The Langham, Portland Place, London W1B 1JA. 020 7636 1000,
If it’s good enough for 007...
What's it like? Seeking a perfect Martini? Look no further than Duke’s. Their Martinis are so perfect they inspired Duke’s regular, Ian Fleming to choose the signature drink for James Bond. Décor features old school glamour, with plush velvet booths – and vintage Martini trolleys which come to you. Sure, you’ll find classic gin with a twist, but also unusual truffle-infused cocktails too. Drink the experience in.
Who goes there? Tucked away in St James, regulars are the Saville Row types who work nearby. Don’t rock up in your distressed skinny jeans.
Why I love it: A quick sip at the Martini trolley, or kicking back in Duke’s all night; each visit feels like a true occasion.
How to find it: 5 Saint James's Place, London, SW1A 1NY, 020 7491 4840,
Take your seats for toe-tappin’ action
What's it like? This hidden den of decadence has the Prohibition look on lock down. Nightjar is all brass and dark polished wood – while live old school jazz completes the vibe. Head bartender Marian Beke, gets inspiration from travel – from Balinese coffee infusions, to the iconic Deep Sea cocktail made from ‘deep ocean water’ and squid ink. Just remember that strict no-standing policy…
Who goes there? Not just for local Shoreditch hipsters, people come from all over London, so book or you will end up disappointed.
Why I love it: This is how BarChick does date night: tap your toes to the jazz while the candlelight keeps you looking smoking.
How to find it: 129 City Road, London, EC1V 1JB. 020 7253 4101.
The bar with no name
What's it like? This Italian café-meets-Film-Noir-bar is the playground of Tony Conigliaro – aka Tony C. And his ‘laboratory’ produces every ingredient, from the vermouths and bitters to the horseradish vodka. Try everything from the Death in Venice palate cleanser, to the masterpiece Prairie Oyster, served in a ceramic oyster shell. Book first, then pull up a barstool to watch the magic happen.
Who goes there? Cocktail lovers from all over to experience Tony C’s original creations – then there’s the jazz lovers…
Why I love it: Established as an icon in just a few years, the menu respects the classics – but all have their own original twist.
How to find it: 69 Colebrooke Row, London, N1 8AA. 07540 528 593.
Visit www.BarChick.com for more of the best cocktails and bars that London has to offer.
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