We all know that London is famous (or infamous depending on how bad your hangover was the morning after) for its gin and its beer. However, our glorious capital is less well known for being a champion of the cocktail and is, in fact, the birthplace of such classics as the white lady and the collins as well as more modern favourites like the espresso martini and the bramble. So, in the light of this and the fact it’s National Cocktail Week, we’ve compiled a list of six of London’s finest cocktail bars at which you can sample some of the most sumptuous alcoholic concoctions our city has to offer. Chin Chin!
Award winning bar at The Savoy
The American Bar at The Savoy ranks easily among the world’s most prestigious hotel bars. Its elegant, sophisticated décor – unchanged since the Queen Mother used to pop in for her morning gin and Dubonnet – is complimented by the pianist who serenades drinkers daily with American Jazz on a grand piano in the centre of the room. Over the years, the American Bar has racked up an impressive collection of awards for its drinks and service so should, quite frankly, be at the very top of your list if you’re contemplating a cocktail tour of London.
The Booking Office
Located inside the gorgeous former booking office of St Pancras station, this relatively new cocktail bar has become an instant favourite. Step over the threshold and you’re instantly blown away by Sir George Gilbert Scott’s stunning Gothic revival design. Lofty yet graceful, you have a perfect, ceiling-level view of bustling St Pancras International Station to take in while sipping a Tom Collins or a Cosmopolitan. With an extensive cocktail menu which includes classic drinks with a twist, such as the Eton Fizz (Sipsmith sloe gin, strawberries, lemon juice, sugar and cream topped with soda), St Pancras should be your next station stop.
Duke’s is almost unsurpassable in the quality of its cocktails. Hidden in a quiet corner of St. James’s Place, just off of St James’s Street, the bar features three small rooms which are magnificently decorated but don’t in any way feel pretentious because of the wonderfully warm welcome everyone receives by their incredibly courteous staff. Duke’s is adored by cocktail connoisseurs for the drama of its martini making – at the table, from a trolley, using only the finest vermouth. (Legend has it that Ian Fleming’s inspiration for the classic Bond line, ‘shaken, not stirred’, was Duke’s Bar!) Its entire cocktail menu is an absolute delight and with, consistently rave reviews, you’d be barking mad to miss out on Duke’s.
If you want a luxurious setting then look no further than the stunning Rosewood Hotel, imposing innocently in High Holborn with its grand presence. Inside you’ll find hotel rooms, venue space, a spa, a restaurant and mroe importantly a bar. The bar inspired by the atmosphere of a drawing room and the sophistication of a gentleman’s club offers innovative drinks like Bubble & Shrubs, a mix of Sipsmith Gin, St. Germain Elderflower, Berry Shrubs Orange Bitters and NV Nyetimber Demi Sec.
Where: Rosewood London, High Holborn, London, United Kingdom
Nearest station: Holborn (0.2 miles)
Continuing with the theme that London’s best cocktail bars are located in exclusive hotels, the Artesian Bar at the Langham should be on your list if, like us, you’re a cocktail fiend. Winner of the ‘World’s Best Bar’ for three years in a row by Drinks International, Artesian is the embodiment of sophisticated drinking. Its interior is minimalist yet stylish with silver and purple furnishings, warm lighting and dark wood tables that lend the bar a comforting, homely vibe. Using only the very finest selection of spirits, its classic cocktail menu isn’t cheap but is a very worthy indulgence. For the more adventurous out there, Artesian offers a ‘surrealist’ cocktail menu which subverts ‘the idea of the traditional “serve”’, include such wicked yet wonderful concoctions as the ‘Fast Money Comes at a Dangerous Price’ (Johnnie Walker Gold, Chamomile, Vetiver, Sandalwood and Kombuca) and the You’re so Gangster (Grey Goose, Yuzu, Lychee, Ginseng, Juniper and Rose).
Rivoli Bar at the Ritz
Going to the Ritz may seem like a middle-class cliché but the Rivoli Bar is a jewel in London’s crown of cocktail bars. Unlike the wider hotel, it doesn’t have a rigid dress code – jackets and ties are optional, jeans are perfectly acceptable. The bar’s cocktails mirror the opulence and grandeur of its décor – the manhattan is mixed with Rivoli’s own solera-aged whiskey and is served in an ice-filled treasure chest! What’s especially exciting about this particular establishment is that guests can spoil themselves with a vintage cocktail made using spirits dating back to the 1940s that were discovered in the depths of the Ritz cellar.