Why: Owned by the blokes behind the Berlusconi-themed Bunga Bunga bar and the Thatcher-themed club Maggie’s, Fogg’s is named after the intrepid explorer in Jules Verne’s novel Around the World in Eighty Days. Accordingly, it’s packed with Victorian curiosities, from penny farthing bicycles and bird cages suspended from the ceiling to entomology displays, pith helmets, taxidermy foxes and a hot-air balloon. If you manage to find somewhere to wedge yourself between all that stuff, grab a tipple off one of the cavalry-coated bartenders. Far from Victorian, the drinks are strong and sophisticated, served in heavy cut glass tumblers. Whacky and wonderful, it’s a spot of madness in the heart of Mayfair…
Where: 15 Bruton Lane, Mayfair, London W1J 6JD
Evans & Peel Detective's Agency
Why: Okay, so it’s not new but as the Queen of Speakeasies it’s got to be on the list. Taking the concept of ‘secret’ to another level, if you want to get into Evans & Peel you have to make an ‘appointment’ a week in advance and present your ‘case’ to the ‘Detective’ on the door. The drama continues inside as you emerge into a real 1920s prohibition drinking den, complete with orange-filamented bulbs and dark corners. The drinks list is excellent (think whisky cocktails and beer in brown paper bags) and there’s smokehouse-style food if all the role play has left you hungry. It’s not going to become your weekly haunt, but the pantomime and pretence make it an excellent date spot.
Where: 310c Earls Court Road, London SW5 9BA
Bourne and Hollingsworth
Why: ‘A small and perfectly formed cocktail bar situated in the heart of Fitzrovia.’
Thus Bourne and Hollingsworth is described by its owner. Easily missed as it lurks beneath a newsagent, this quirky little cocktail bar will remind you of your granny’s house (minus the muskiness). All floral wallpaper, mismatched chairs, chintzy lamps and cocktails served in china teacups and jam jars. Indeed, shelves of dusty books by the men’s loos mean you really could settle in and pretend to be at your granny’s.
But don’t be fooled by the innocent décor…
The cocktail menu is daring and imaginative, with drinks such as the Apricot Smash and Ginger Daisy packing a punch yet retaining a wonderfully quaint, British feel. If you’re feeling peckish, finger sandwiches and other homemade treats are on hand to quash the pangs.
Where: 28 Rathbone Place, Fitzrovia, London w1T 1JF
The King of Ladies Man
Why: From the guys behind The Breakfast Club and Mayor of Scaredy Cat Town, we give you The King of Ladies Man. Enter the concealed bar through a secret sliding door in a launderette (as you do) and find yourself in a badass bachelor pad cum kitsch disco haven, complete with pink plastic flamingos and ‘handsome Hawaiian-shirted bartenders’. The drinks, or ‘disco drinks’ as The King prefers them to be known, are kitsch Tequila Sunrises, Pina Coladas and Mai Tais, while the food is hearty cheese toasties, deep fried haddock fritters and corn on the cob. Flamboyant and fun, it’s a great place to go with a group of mates, with whom you can play a game of spot the stained glass penis window…
Where: 5-9 Battersea Rise, London SW11 1HG
The Cocktail Trading Co.
Why: A new contender in the quirky bar scene Cocktail Trading Co. is already rubbing shoulders with the very best of them. The focus here is on the drinks, which are chopped and changed as often as mint in a mojito as they experiment with cutting edge mixology. Beyond the expertly mixed clover clubs, mint julips and so on, the list gets extremely weird and even more wonderful. From the #FestivalChic served up in a wellington boot to the Scout’s Honour garnished with sweets and party poppers, there’s also one with a Chinese name we don’t know how to say; what we do know is that it comes in noodle box complete with chopsticks… Mark our words, this place is destined for great things. Get there before everyone else does.
Where: 22 Great Marlborough Street, London W1F 7HU