A strong contender for the most instagrammable London bar of 2019, the Martin Brudnizki designed Coral Room was always going to be a looker. The double-height space has bright coral walls and is adorned with inviting armchairs and scallop backed (a-la Sketch) sofas.
That’s not to say it’s just about the looks. Any bar that manages to lure head bartender Giovanni Spezziga to run the show, has something very special going for it. Under his watch, the British-inspired cocktail list has grown from strength to strength. The current menu features an attractive array of tall and handsome drinks, many including English sparkling wine alongside local ingredients ranging from Kentish cobnuts, rhubarb, rosehip and Bramley apples, which appear throughout the 14-strong drinks list.
Also worth highlighting is their emphasis on English Sparkling wine – the bar here promotes six small vineyards, whose wine is all served by the glass. We can’t think of a better place to sit back and think of England…
This is a tiny bar, hidden in Bethnal Green, which has made waves not only across the capital but internationally, too. Chris Moore, former head bartender at the Savoy’s Beaufort Bar decided to go it alone with the launch of this focused bar, which wouldn’t feel out of place in Soho or Mayfair. He has been handsomely rewarded – taking the No.18 spot in this year’s World’s 50 Best Bars. But it’s their great drinks, rather than glitzy accolades which keep us trekking across town to it.The French spirit Calvados is a key focus at Coupette, so expect to encounter it in many forms across their 20 strong list. Also not to be missed is their Champagne Pina Colada – a sparkling twist on the classic tiki drink.
The Donovan Bar
In the competitive world of hotel bars, it takes a truly great team and concept to stand out amongst the competition. The team at Brown’s Hotel in Mayfair were clearly aiming for the stars when they relaunched the Donovan bar last year, co-opting bar legend Salvatore Calabrese to oversee an all-new menu and refurbished space – designed as a homage to British photographer Terence Donovan.
If there’s one hotel bar which we would recommend that every Londoner (and of course visitors) should visit at least once, it’s Dukes. It’s a classic cocktail bar situated in the heart of St James which has built its reputation around a single drink, the martini. For over 35 years, Dukes has been known for its martini and its unique method of service, perfected by head bartender Alessandro Palazzi.
Two things to be aware of when visiting Dukes. Firstly, there’s neither shaking nor stirring to be seen. The experience begins with Alessandro wheeling over the Dukes Martini trolley, laden with frozen bottles of gin and vodka. Once you’ve chosen your spirit of choice, he adds a few drops of vermouth into a chilled glass and a twist of Amalfi lemon twist kisses the rim before being plunged into the drink. Secondly, The Martinis average around six ounces of spirit per drink – so Palazzi has instituted a two-drink maximum. Very wise.
Situated in the tranquil end of Bloomsbury, Fitz’s has quickly established itself as a destination worth visiting. The hotel bar for the Kimpton Fitzroy is an elegant Russell Sage-designed space which turns Jazz-Age glamour up to ten with opulent fabrics, ostrich plumes complete with a radiant disco ball.
The creation of Marian Beke who spent five years at the helm of nearby Nightjar, The Gibson is a consistent performer which found early success entering the World’s 50 Best Bars just weeks after opening in 2016. Since then this tiny bar has always been at front of mind when we’re visiting new restaurants around Clerkenwell or Old Street. As their name suggests you’ll be able to get a pretty decent Gibson Martini – theirs is created with a special edition Copperhead Gin, a savoury take which is packed with spices and 14 botanicals, distilled exclusively for the bar. There’s also an impressive list of 48 signature cocktails to work through – we’ve come to trust the bar team to suggest something exciting and delicious, a promise which they inevitably deliver on.
Hoxton’s original underground cocktail bar and one of our long-time favourite East London drinking spots, Happiness Forgets is actually, despite its name, a hard bar to forget. Headed up by Alastair Burgess (who first cut his teeth as head bartender of Pegu club in NYC) the team here are perfectly attuned to working their way through the ever-changing menu, executing old classics with new energy whilst also not afraid to throw in an inspired twist.
Shortly after guiding The American Bar at The Savoy to the number one spot of the World’s Best Bar list last year, Erik Lorincz announced his surprise departure. Immediately questions abounded as to what Lorincz would do next. The answer is Kwānt, his first solo venture, a 19th Century-style cocktail bar and lounge found beneath Momo on Heddon Street.Drawing upon Lorincz’s tenure at the top end of bartending, the design, décor and menu at Kwānt remain distinctly elegant. The interiors from designer Bambi Sloan are what we can only describe as an exotic drawing room and feature a hand-painted ceiling by French artist Alain Grandne.
Ryan Chetiyawardana simply cannot sit still. Shortly after securing the title of ’The World’s Best Bar’ at the 2018 World’s 50 Best Bars, he promptly announced that Dandelyan – the ground-floor cocktail bar at Sea Containers hotel on London’s South Bank – would be closing with (almost) immediate effect.
Rising from the ashes in January of this year, Lyaness took us entirely by surprise. An entirely new interior design, bar team and drinks menu was an incredible feat to orchestrate in such a short space of time.