Whether it be for a pre-theatre cocktail or a post-dinner nightcap, London boasts some of the most impressive bars in the world. Our lifestyle editor shares her top picks of the best bars in London.
Best For A Martini – The Connaught Bar
Named ‘World’s Best Bar’ in The World’s 50 Best Bars 2021, The Connaught Bar is the ultimate destination for a martini. Watching your drink come to life from the legendary martini trolley is like watching a ballet unfold. Spirits glide into glasses whilst your mixologist moves with the utmost grace to create the perfect drink. Tailored to your liking with hand-made bitters designed by expert master mixologist Ago Perone, this is cocktail making at its finest. With stylish 1920’s décor, designed by David Collins studio, and flawless service, a martini at The Connaught Bar is a truly unique experience.
TWE recommends: The Connaught martini, the classic aperitif, served with a unique twist from The Connaught Bar’s famous trolley, tailored to your taste with handmade bitters.
Best For Pre-Post Theatre – SOMA
A modern approach to a basement speakeasy, SOMA serves a succinct list of cocktails influenced by the diverse flavours found across the Indian subcontinent and neighboring countries. A less is more approach is favoured here, with head of beverage, Will Rogers, and SOMA Bar Manager, Angelos Bafas (previously of Aqua Shard and ranking in the Top 5 Bartenders in the world) allowing seasonal ingredients and high-quality spirits to do the talking. Cocktails include the gimlet-inspired Leaf, made with curry leaf, Ophire gin, kaffir lime and pink peppercorn, as well as the negroni-inspired Oak, made with cardamom, Martini Millers aged gin, and Amontillado sherry. Echoing the paired back approach is a simple and clean interior, with an impressive nine-metre long stainless steel bar taking pride of place. Applauding its neighboring theatres, SOMA celebrates walk-ins, making it one of the best bars in London for after the show.
TWE recommends: Mooli, inspired by the martini, made with pickled Mooli, Haku vodka, and curry leaf vermouth
Best For Art Lovers – The Red Room At The Connaught
An elegant hideaway tucked behind a heavy velvet curtain, just off the hotel’s champagne room, The Red Room is an ode to fine wine and some of the world’s most visionary female artists. Above the marble fireplace sits Louise bourgeois’ magnificent ‘I Am Rouge’. Accompanying this central artwork are crimson pieces from Jenny Holzer, Ti-a Thuy Nguyen, and Trina McKillen. Bryan O’Sulivan is responsible for the stunning interior of curved edges and soft hues that guide the viewer’s eye. The Red Room is one of London’s best bars for wine and boasts an extensive list of some of the world’s finest wines by the glass. Expect rare vintages and tastes of the early harvests, as well as a capsule collection of six cocktails that change with the seasons.
TWE recommends: Perlage rosé, made with a fig and champagne shrub, infused Tapatio Blanco, Amontillado sherry, and Gamay sparkling
Best For Creative Cocktails – LPM London
One of London’s chicest hideaways, LPM is renowned for its Riviera-inspired cuisine but its cocktails are swiftly gaining notability as some of the best in London. Inspired by the life of legendary French artist Jean Cocteau, the eclectic cocktail menu celebrates the era of “La Belle Epoque”. Each drink draws on the history, friendships, and adventures of Cocteau and the artist’s enthusiasm for love and for life. Lettre à Coco, a stunning vodka-based cocktail representing the special friendship between Jean and Coco Chanel combines Ketel One, champagne cordial, jasmine, bergamot, and rose and is delivered with a personal note spritzed with the most famous perfume in the world to reflect the notes of the drink. A multi-sensory experience, a cocktail here transports you to a world of art and allure.
TWE recommends: Beauty and the Beast, made with Grey Goose, Saint Germain, yellow chartreuse, and strawberry fennel cordial.
Best For After Dinner – The Fumoir Bar At Claridges
Discreetly blended into Claridge’s stunning art deco foyer, the Fumoir bar is where those in the know have sipped on cocktails since the late 1920s. With plush velvety furnishings and a cocktail list that covers the classics and the innovative, it is the perfect place to settle into a nightcap or two. Inspired by the generation of Bright Young Things as well as the artists, writers, and socialites for whom The Fumoir Bar became a second home, the cocktail menu is an eccentric and decadent mix of original recipes with a Fumoir twist. With flawless service and lavish interiors, The Fumoir Bar is one of the best bars in London.
TWE recommends: The Fumoir Negroni, made with Heppel gin, Campari, Carpano Antica, chamomile, and coffee.
Best For First Dates – Isabel
One of the sexiest restaurants in Mayfair, Isabel is a perfect spot for that first-date cocktail. Using only the utmost premium spirits and wines, the menu is inspired by the seasons. Cocktails range from The Winter Scarf, a bold and luxurious cocktail made with Seven Tails brandy, Pedro Ximénez Grand Marnier, and chocolate bitters, to the light and fruity Juniper Spark, made with Tanqueray Ten gin, pomegranate liqueur, and Charles Heidsieck brut champagne. It’s worth noting that they have an extensive portfolio of tequila too, perfect for when drinks turn into dancing. With a sensual décor featuring a central mirrored bar and fantastic ebony-gold ceiling that is sure to impress, Isabel is one of the best bars in London.
TWE recommends: Cilantro Margarita Sour, made with chilly infused Casamigos Blanco, coriander, lime, and agave.
Best For Classic Glamour – Claridge’s Bar
It is a rarity to find a place that one simply cannot fault, but Claridge’s Bar manages to deliver with consistent perfection. Designed by David Collins studio in signature art deco style, the interior radiates sophisticated elegance. The wine list and cocktail menu are overseen by the talented Claridge’s Bar manager Denis Broci, whose team is on hand to recommend a cocktail made to your taste preferences or pour champagne into a perfectly ice-chilled glass. The canapés are unquestionably the best you will find in London. Tempura prawns with chilli, carrot and soy dip, and smoked salmon Moscovite cornets with horseradish cream and Oscietra caviar arrive elevated in custom-designed trays, and oysters come fresh from the sea with a choice of shallot vinegar, tabasco, and fresh lemon. For a taste of classic glamour and hospitality at its finest, Claridge’s bar is one of the best bars in London.
TWE recommends: A bottle of Laurent Perrier champagne alongside the prawn tempura and smoked salmon Moscovite cornets.
Best For Botanical – La Goccia Bar
Opening February 2022, Petersham Nurseries’ Italian restaurant La Goccia, opens a stunning new cocktail bar that will serve botanical-inspired drinks until the clock strikes midnight. Decorated with contemporary art from Petersham Nurseries founder Francesco Boglione’s personal collection, including works by Alex Katz, Jorge Galindo and Sarah Graham, the roots of the design and drinks of La Goccia Bar are in flora and foliage. Launching with a ‘Winter in the Woods’ cocktail list, the current menu focuses on warming spices and seasonal fruits. The gin-based Applestar showcases this year’s autumn and winter apple crop with just a hint of citrus, star anise, and almond, while the Smoked Orange features invigorating herbal notes from Aperol and amaro, paired with smoky Mexican mezcal. An elegant yet eclectic setting, with velvet sofas, Art Deco chairs, and Middle Eastern patterned rugs, La Goccia Bar is set to be a destination for cocktail connoisseurs and art lovers alike.
TWE recommends: The Pear Tree, made with pear juice, rum, tonka bean, and cloves.
Best For Pre-Getaway – Booking Office
Set within a reimagined 19th-century station ticket hall designed by celebrated French designer Hugo Toro, a cocktail at Booking Office feels as though you are stepping back in time to a world of baroque glamour. A breath away from Kings Cross and St Pancras International, it is the perfect spot for a cocktail before heading off on a romantic escape. With a menu that celebrates the classics, including the house martini and 1869 punch, a cocktail at the Booking Office bar is a truly luxurious way to start your trip before hopping on board.
TWE recommends: the house martini, made with Hepple gin or Sapling vodka, dry vermouth, organic beeswax, and a black olive
Best for Rosé – Rosé Lumière at Selfridges
Housed in the iconic Selfridges London, Rosé Lumière is a blushing new bar dedicated entirely to rosé. From February till June, guests can step inside a traditional romantic French cinema house to enjoy a selection of luxurious rose wines. A unique opportunity to sample some of the world’s most iconic vintages, their ‘Truly Iconic Champagne Flight’ includes Moët & Chandon Grand Vintage Rosé 2013, Veuve Clicquot Vintage Rosé 2012, and Dom Pérignon Rosé. For rosé lovers, Rosé Lumiere is unquestionably one of the best bars in London.
TWE recommends: The Truly Iconic Champagne Flight
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