Experimental Cocktail Club

experimental cocktail club londonIf you’re lucky enough to find the unmarked door to the multi-storey Experimental Cocktail Club, you’re off to a good start. The doorman might tip you off to its location, but don’t feel intimidated – the key here is to play by the rules. Show up early if you don’t have a reservation and look reasonably put together (you needn’t dress like a disco ball, but a step up from pyjamas is a reasonable ask).

That said, the cocktails here are superb, robust and worth the wait on busier nights. While the drinks aren’t quite molecular, they’re perfectly executed. Try La Medicacion, a short tequila cocktail with a mezcal mist which is perfect year-round: refreshing and zesty for the summer yet smoky enough for the winter. If you have a chance, chat with the immaculately dressed bartenders and let them tailor a drink to your personal tastes. Or if you feel like splashing the cash, then test drive their vintage cocktails – the 1950s variation on the Manhattan will set you back a cool £200.

The dimly lit setting oozes Parisian laid-back chic, with ornate ceilings, soft furnishings and exposed brick walls. So just keep that Parisian cool in mind when the service gets a bit spotty.

Best Bars tip: Keep an eye out for any table that crops up, because if you play nice then the hostess might just let you keep it – until the booking arrives.

— Sasha Filimonov, @SashaSips

Experimental Cocktail Club punch bowl

Slim Jim’s Liquor Store

Slim Jim's Liquor Store AngelYou know you’re in for some good ol’ fashioned trouble when you step into a bar and immediately need to peel your shoes off the floor. Slim Jim’s Liquor Store takes you straight into downtown LA, and feels like a 100% authentic brick-walled dive.

Don’t worry too much about the leather jacket-clad gentleman at the door, he’s just a regular. One rule about getting in though: no suits, absolutely NO suits. So throw on your best rock and roll tatters and be ready to whip off your bra for a free drink – check out the impressive lingerie collection hanging from the ceiling.

This is party-time Americana at its best and grungiest. It’s open seven days, always late, with a (sometimes) free jukebox cranking out classic tunes – from BRUUUUUUCE to Joy Division. So let’s get turbo-sh*tfaced on the bountiful bourbons.

Best Bars tip: Happy hour is a rather impressive affair here – between 5-8pm every day (except Saturday) you can get 2-for-1 cocktails, draught beers for £3 and cut-price house spirits. Oh yeah, Pickleback Tuesdays are a must since you can throw back four of those suckers for a tenner.

— Sasha Filimonov, @SashaSips

Slim Jim's Liquor Store Angel

Hawksmoor Spitalfields Bar

hawksmoor spitalfields bar london

This Spitalfields drinking den feels of a different class than some of its flannel-donning brethren in neighbouring Shoreditch, and it’s got your whole night wrapped up in one burnished brass-covered package.

The cocktails are the stars of this underground Hawksmoor show, so don’t expect the famous steaks down here – that’s strictly upstairs business. For those looking to satisfy their sweet urge, try the Nuclear Banana Daiquiri … it’s guilty pleasure defined. Careful though, that overproof rum can knock you sideways. If you’re of the classics persuasion, test drive the Full Fat Old Fashioned – think Don Draper, with a bigger waistline.

You won’t struggle to line your stomach here, with menu highlights like the Pig’s Head Poutine (a Canadian delicacy … or cheese fries, as some may call them), the Ox Cheek French Dip, and the finger-licking Seoul Ribs for a fiver, which are a must.

Best Bars tip: Desert Island Drinks launch the first Tuesday of every month, and you can get any one of them with a sandwich for £15.

— Sasha Filimonov, @SashaSips

Hawksmoor Spitalfields Bar London