Emma from Gin Monkey, a guide to London’s bar scene, gives Bon Vivant her thoughts on the best cocktail bars to open in London during 2011.
London is one of the world’s cocktail capitals with a wide range of cocktail bars to choose from. New bars appear on a monthly basis, almost all bringing something unique and exciting to the scene, attracting some of the best bartenders in the world. 2011 has been a great year for new cocktail bars in London, and some of the best are below:
The Zetter Townhouse
The Zetter Townhouse bar is the second opening by Tony Conigliaro and Camille Hobby-Limon . Their first bar, 69 Colebrooke Row, has received high acclaim in the time that it has been open, and I have no doubt that the ZTH will do the same.
The venue is designed around ‘Aunt Wilhelmina’, a crazy old aunt whose trinkets and artefacts from her global travels make the Zetter the most unusual venue I’ve been to in a long time. The cocktail menu is short but perfectly formed. Each cocktail is the result of a specific concept, and is the product of multiple experiments in Tony’s Islington based lab to get the final libation just right. Expect unusual ingredients, and the influence of many different techniques and fields.
Address: 49 Saint John’s Square, 86 – 88 Clerkenwell Road, London, EC1M 5RJ
Phone: 020 7324 4545
Worship Street Whistling Shop
The Worship Street Whistling Shop is also a new venture from a group who have enjoyed previous success on the London bar scene - Fluid Movement. The Whistling Shop is quite different from their first venture (Purl in Marylebone), think less ‘whiz bang pop’ and more cocktails that are designed to play with your senses in the most intriguing way.
The concept is a Victorian Gin Palace for the 21st Century, putting a modern twist on classic cocktails. Their barrel aged cocktails behind the bar are a real treat, along with some true gems from the main menu. Book into the Emporium for a truly unique experience unlike anything you’ve ever seen/heard/smelt before!
Address: 63 Worship Street, London, EC2A 2DU
Phone: 020 7247 0015
Nightjar is a beautiful bar hidden away in a basement in Old Street – the perfect place to escape the hustle and bustle of London.
The bartenders at Nightjar take a lot of care and attention when it comes to making their cocktails. They’re executed with flair and are garnished with some of the most insane but beautiful garnishes I’ve ever come across. Nightjar is a great place to relax with a drink alongside laid back jazz and brilliant live music on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.
Address: 129 City Road, London, EC1V 1JB
Phone: 020 7253 4101
London Cocktail Club
LCC is a wonderful, fun bar with great cocktails and some of the most friendly and welcoming staff you’ll find in London. They’ve got great quality bar snacks, but then you’d expect that given the fact that Raymond Blanc was involved in establishing the venue.
It’s a classic good time bar with all the usual suspects on the cocktail menu. The ‘from the pantry’ section mixes ingredients from the kitchen with the spirits behind the bar to great effect, especially the bacon and egg Martini. London Cocktail Club is the kind of bar where you loose track of time and end up leaving far later than you intended, with a wobble in your step and a huge smile on your face!
Address: 61 Goodge Street, London, W1T 1TL
Phone: 020 7580 1960
Mayor of Scaredy Cat Town
The Mayor of Scaredy Cat Town combines great music and atmosphere with good quality cocktails. Taking inspiration from some of the speakeasies of New York, the entrance is hidden through a Smeg fridge in the new Breakfast Club venue just off Bishopsgate.
Thankfully they’ve managed to create a fun and quirky bar with great original cocktails on the menu alongside some of the usual suspects. Their bloody Mary station on a weekend is perfect to compliment the brunch on offer upstairs too.
Address: 12-16 Artillery Lane (in the basement of the Breakfast Club), London, E1 7LS
Phone: 020 7078 9639
Experimental Cocktail Club
The Experimental Cocktail Club brings the concept of the original Paris bar over to London, which opened earlier this year to a lot of excitement. The ECC is a beautiful bar with ornate wallpapers, mirrored tables and long, dark comfortable seats. The cocktails are fantastic, however not quite as experimental as you’d expect. They also have an impressive range of vintage spirits behind the bar which, if you’re feeling flush, they can whip up into a vintage cocktail for you.
A bar where you definitely need to book and use a fair amount of charm and skill to navigate the doorman!
Address: 3A Gerrard Street, W1D 5PS
Phone: 020 7434 3559
Another very new addition to London which is well worth keeping an eye on is:
Shaker & Company
Shaker & Company has just opened on the cusp of Camden & W1. The bartenders are all trained by the world renowned Shaker Bar School, so they certainly know their stuff. The venue has a relaxed, easy-going ambience where everyone will feel welcome whether you’re looking for a cocktail or a pint.
Downstairs sees monthly residences by spirit brands who can transform the space into whatever wonderful hideaway they choose. This bar may be a little bit off the beaten track but it’s well worth a visit!
Address: 119 Hampstead Road, Euston, London, NW1 3EE
Phone: 0207 0606 877
London has witnessed the addition of two new upscale hotel bars over recent months. Bar 45 at the Dorchester Collection’s new hotel in Mayfair, 45 Park Lane, and Bassoon Bar at The Corinthia Hotel, both of which are great additions to London’s hotel bar scene.
New openings to keep an eye out for in 2012:
A new venture from London Cocktail Club with a distinctly naval twist and hopefully another bar from Fluid Moves (they’re looking for venues at the moment)…
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