London

The beagle picks the best bars in London - his hometown and the world's best cocktail city...

 


Apparently City of London bankers arm wrestle their Wall Street peers every year to determine which city is "the world's financial capital". Fortunately in the cocktail world we can just check the 50 Best Bars list...


Dandelyan - South Bank
A botany-themed bar on the banks of the Thames, sure. But what a bar. Ten minutes here will explain why Ryan Chetiyawardana is revered worldwide. The man is a magician, and this is his grand stage. Just voted Best Bar in the World, but set to close soon, so hurry down asap!


The American Bar - The Strand
The bar, the legend. Yes, it's formal, but yes, it's worth it. The staff will treat you like royalty and this really is all about the history of London's oldest 'American bar'. If you need to brush up, don't worry, the walls are adorned with the images of past guests and there's a museum next door.


Swift - Soho
Many will disagree, but for me, it's taken the team behind Nightjar and Oriole til their third offering to get it just right. Swift dispenses with the complicated drinks and excessive garnishes of its older siblings and just serves top-notch drinks in a simple style. There'll be standing room only here for your Friday night cocktail, but boy will it be worth it.


The Gibson - Old Street
These guys would pickle anything, and given the name you can be sure the cocktail onions are on point. It's a small space with tealights everywhere, so be careful where you put your limbs, but enjoy the majestically crafted drinks and live piano most nights.


The Bar with No Name - Angel
Ok, so the tables may scrape against your shins, and you may feel like a daddy long legs perched on a bar stool, but this bar, the original home of Tony Conigliaro's Drink Factory consultancy shows you how simple the scientific approach to drinking can be applied. No fancy froths, foams or smoke, just tasty drinks featuring moss, lichen and bone.


Happiness Forgets - Hoxton
A lively basement room with a lot of attitude. Simple twists on longstanding classics are the order of the day. The place is always packed. You do the maths.


Coupette - Bethnal Green
They say they're "inspired by France but proudly local," so what does that get you? You might come for the French breakfast, the Champagne or the Calvados, but you'll stay for the truffled white negroni or the Champagne Pina Colada (oh yes you will) and you'll leave mesmerised by the coin covered bar top.


Purl - Marylebone
You know how we said the scientific approach doesn't need fancy froths, foam or smoke? Well sometimes it does, and for those times there is Purl. Descend the steps and travel back in time. It may be a little cliched now, but it's still fun to have your lemon balloon garnish explode at the table.


Black Rock - The City
You're going to need to like whisky to get the most out of Black Rock, but if you do, you're in for a treat. This dark basement bar (with Sack and Devil's Darling both upstairs) does its best to demystify scotch by serving a range of simple but effective cocktails and a great selection of drams from their cabinets.


Bar Termini - Soho
A tiny space that does coffee and pastries by day and bitter Italian aperitivo by evening. Somehow it adds up to far more than the sum of its parts and has made itself at home near the top of many best bar lists.


Scout - Hackney
Just moved from Shoreditch to Hackney, Scout is a bar that puts its ingredients first, with a focus on fresh, seasonal and local produce. There will be things on the menu you won't have heard of, but don't worry - I'm yet to have a bad drink in any of Matt Whiley's bars.


Connaught Bar - Mayfair
Yes it's a hotel bar in Mayfair, but it's almost worth the bank loan. A firm fixture in the 50 Best Bars list - so much so that it got it's own 'Legend of the List' award this year. The martini trolley might have something to do with it.


Oriole - Smithfields
If there was an award for least inspiring location, Oriole would get my vote every time. Located underneath Smithfields Market (that's London's wholesale meat market) you are (fortunately) transported into another world when you descend the stairs. The walls are decorated with global artefacts and the venue has an enticing art deco feel, helped along by the regular live jazz acts. The drinks are less complicated than those served at Nightjar, but the menu is still complicated enough to include its own glossary.


Three Sheets - Dalston
Another bar with minute furniture that is not designed for comfort, but the drinks will soon let you forget. Brothers Max and Noel Venning have a simple approach - nine imaginative twists on classic cocktails from a menu that changes weekly.

 

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