London isn’t short on secret bars these days, but Barts is the self-professed city’s “worst kept secret”. Yet despite people knowing of this tiny quirky charmer on Sloane Avenue, we believe you’ll still struggle immensely to find the front door. So here’s some help: it’s inside the Chelsea Cloisters building and you’ll have to walk past the porter then down the hall and up a small flight of stairs to get there. The comic-style wallpapered entryway will tip you off and once you ring the bell and they open the sliding peephole to assess you, you better hope you look the part to get in.
The small dark space is kitted out with antique trinkets, dark wood furnishings and a vandalised Mona Lisa painting. For warmer days they have a small garden out back, but in the winter you’ll feel plenty cosy inside. The music stays true to speakeasy vibes, with jazz and the like playing over the noise of shaking cocktails. On Sundays, a live band comes in for a jovial night of swinging tunes and then sometimes there’s a piano so anyone can join in the musical fun.
If you’re looking for an intimate setting with pricey yet tasty cocktails, best to head here during the week. On the weekends it’s a happy and rowdy place, with most punters digging through the fancy dress box for a laugh – and why wouldn’t you? For stinky cheese fans, try one of the more unusual offerings, the Pickled Ploughman: a Sipsmith and Chambord cocktail shaken with blue Stilton and served alongside blue cheese, honey and grapes. And for those of the smoky persuasion, try one of their tobacco cocktails – we favoured the Holy Smoke with Perique tobacco liqueur, Hennessy cognac, Havana Club 8 y/o and vanilla, served short and on the rocks.
Best Bars tip: Look out for the fancy dress box … then dive straight in. You’ll arrive as one person, then leave as another. *Shhh….
— Sasha Filimonov, @SashaSips