The Bridge

The Bridge Shoreditch

Just under the bridge that marks the end of Shoreditch High Street and the beginning of Kingsland Road sits, you guessed it, The Bridge. From the outside, the dark facade and gloomy entrance give the impression of a place that time forgot, but head inside and you’ll be talking about this treasure trove until the cows come home.

Boxing gloves, a vintage Coca Cola fridge full of beers and an old fashioned till are only a few of the mismatched memorabilia that make this coffee house/bar so enchanting. A small television above the bar even shows black and white boxing matches throughout the day and night – we hear the owner’s a huge fan and we challenge you not to be after an hour in this place.

It’s what’s upstairs that makes this treasure trove so special, though. Fringed and art deco lamps light the throne-like armchairs and sofas that festoon this space. Got a penchant for velvet? You’re in luck – the windows and ceiling are draped with the stuff, making it the perfect getaway for afternoon tea drinking or early evening beers. Cake lovers will be happy to hear that the downstairs display fridge is chock full of french cakes and fancies, while savoury pastries keep those with a savoury tooth sweet.
Best Bars tip: Get there early on a Friday night and enjoy the opulence of the upstairs parlour before you embark on an inevitable evening of drinking on foot on the east London scene below.
— Millie Milliken, @milliemilliken
The Bridge Shoreditch upstairs

Cloud 23

Cloud 23 manchesterFor some of the best views Manchester has to offer, make your way up to Cloud 23. This slick and stylish cocktail spot has floor-to-ceiling windows (and boy are they high), so grab a spot next to one and sit back to enjoy the skyline. Come rain or shine, you’ll be happy sipping away in the clouds.

Prices may be as steep as the height of this bar, but with supremely friendly and attentive service you’ll feel alright about shelling out those extra shekels. For a fun and festive cocktail, try The Industrialist with a pre-batched frozen mix of Bulleit Bourbon, vermouth, mezcal bitters and maple syrup with is then poured over a big tuft of candy floss. Give a nod to ol’ Becks with the 7’s Club – a tasty mix of Haig Club whisky, Dubbonet, rosemary & demerara syrup, walnut and it’s served on a football pitch (of course).

Expect to see a mix of glitterati and polished out of towners all chirpily chatting away. You won’t spot too many sufferers of vertigo here though …

Best Bars tip: If you’re looking to impress, whether it’s a client or a date, this is the spot for you.

— Sasha Filimonov, @SashaSips

Cloud 23 manchester

The Ivy Market Grill

The Ivy Market Grill bar Mark NicholsonSo there was the Ivy, with its art deco interior and its celebs eating shepherd’s pie and chocolate bombs. Enters The Ivy Market Grill, a more laid-back little sibling in the heart of Covent Garden that’s all about approachable dining and drinking. The shepherd’s pie is still here but it comes with a list of well thought-out cocktails and even some bespoke bottles. Go on then, tuck in.

Head bartender Jeremy Evans found inspiration for the list in Covent Garden’s history. Most drinks are fruity and floral, a reminder of the area’s past as a fruit market and an orchard, and are great pre-dinner serves – you won’t leave this place without a trip via the à la carte.  Start with a light and sour My Fair Lady, with the restaurant’s bespoke Ivy Gin – a spicy spirit that gives a little depth to the serves it’s used in. The Betty Careless is full of surprises: its smoky nose of Ardberg reveals sweetness and citrus, with warmth from Chivas Regal, and agave combining it all together. With a plate of spiced olives on the side, and followed by a crispy duck salad, we predict a very good evening.

It’s not just the plates that are inviting though: the terrace will call your name on warmer days, and in the winter you’ll want to cosy up inside, surrounded by deep green leather and warm dark wood. Expect to find a mixed crowd – theatre goers, tourists speaking barely a word of English and Ivy loyals broadening their perspectives. And you, no doubt.

Best Bars tip: Make the trip down for an afternoon tea, but swap the regular loose leaf for an Earl of Bedford, with Beefeater gin, crème de bergamote, chamomile liqueur, orange marmalade, and naturally, tea.

– Gaëlle Laforest, @gaellelaforest

The Ivy Market Grill Bar dining room

London’s 8 Best Bars with a View

Guy Fawkes Fireworks over Palace of WestminsterNew Year’s Eve in London is a beautiful (but sometimes stressful) affair, so we’ve tried to make it a little easier for you by picking some of the BEST bars for fireworks spotting as the clock strikes 12. Be warned though: these places are throwing their own parties, so be sure to book your tickets or table in advance.

Duck & Waffle bar 20131. Duck & Waffle
Worth a visit just for a ride in the lift, this 40th floor haunt is surrounded by windows giving you a pretty good look over London’s skyline. And with bang-on food, kooky cocktails (that also taste great), as well as a 24-hour license — there’s nothing stopping you from swinging by.

Galvin at Windows bar london2. Galvin at Windows
Ever had a panoramic experience of London? Perched up on the 28th floor of the Park Lane Hilton, this is one of the ultimate spots to slink into a soft sofa and overlook the city’s glittering skyline.

OXO Tower London Southbank afternoon tea3. OXO Tower
South Bank’s iconic OXO Towers offers cocktails to suit the stunning Thames-side views. So nab yourself one of their originals, like the After Hours Cosmo, and toast your drinking buddies while you take in the fireworks in style.

City Social London4. City Social
Socialising is darker, sexier and a whole lot higher here. Sitting pretty on the 24th floor of Tower 42, Jason Atherton’s skryise outpost is more art deco than the rest. You’ll feel like you’re in 1980s New York City — fireworks here we go!

radio rooftop bar terrace5. Radio Rooftop Bar and Restaurant
The wraparound terrace on the 10th floor of the ME Hotel is panoramic penthouse perfection. Order yourself some fancy shmancy cocktails while you take in some of London’s greatest views — could be worse, right?

shanghai bar the shard6. Shanghai Bar at The Shard
The Shard’s 33rd floor is given over to Northern Chinese restaurant Hutong, which has its own bird’s nest of a bar. At Shanghai Bar, drinks take abstract inspiration from ancient Chinese medicinal practices.

Skylounge Viking Bar Pop Up7. Winter Viking Bar (Valhalla Vodka Bar) at Skylounge
With fireworks setting off in the city, rooftop space is prime real estate — and Skylounge has a good swathe of it. With two long terraces jutting out like parallel catwalks, their two rooftop bars will be perfect for catching a glimpse of the sparkling night sky (just shimmy next to a heater). Plus it’s Viking themed … yes, Viking.

The Boundary rooftop 28. The Boundary Rooftop Bar
Set on a lower floor than some of the others on this list, you’re in with a chance for fireworks spotting as east London buildings still sit a bit lower than the City’s.

— Sasha Filimonov, @SashaSips

Salvatore’s Bar at Playboy Club

Salvatores Bar at Playboy Club LondonOne of the very best in the business at what he does, Salvatore Calabrese always delivers. As expected, the drinks are exceptional, but at Salvatore’s Bar, you can really feel the magic of the Maestro as you are welcomed into his world for an amazing evening of dazzling indulgence.

You are graciously greeted upon entering and then escorted through to the main bar, walking past a honeycomb-style display cabinet filled with Salvatore’s private collection of liquid history which is in itself an astonishing sight to behold. Then you’ll head on into the softly candlelit piano bar where you see the glittering honeycomb backbar. Amidst the glitz and glamour of the “live the dream” Playboy brand is a space that manages to deliver exactly what a world-class cocktail bar should. The ridiculously cool Liquid History list is the other star of the show here and if your pockets run deep enough, you can sip away on a glass of 1788  Clos de Griffier Vieux Cognac at £5,000 a glass!

The Sherry Cobbler is a killer cocktail made with elderberry sugar, sherry and sour cherry wine served in an ice-encrusted julep tin that is in a word, delicious. For something with a bit more kick try the super-tasty Marked Man; made with Maker’s Mark bourbon, Campari, freshly pressed orange juice, mint and ginger.

Best Bars tip: Try and get in a little early to grab a Breakfast Martini at the bar with Salvatore and you’ll see for yourself why he holds court in the drinks world as the host with the most.

— Matthew Bray-Heather

Salvatores Bar at Playboy Club London cocktails

The 7 Best Bars for Winter Alfresco Sipping

Just because “winter is coming”, doesn’t mean Londoners are ready to call it quits on sipping outside. It just means we have to get a bit more creative in how we do alfresco. And turns out, we do it very well.

The Boundary Rooftop pegoda1. The Boundary Rooftop Bar

An alfresco leafy haven in the heart of Shoreditch with some of the comfiest seats in town. And since there is an atmospheric, weatherproofed pergola — come rain or shine, you can still sit up on the roof and overlook east London’s skyline.

 

Wigwambam woodlandia queen of hoxton2. Wigwambam at the Queen of Hoxton

This toasty little pop-up bar is an east London treasure in the colder months, situated atop the Queen of Hoxton. Can’t find it? Look up and you’ll spot this rooftop teepee from around the block. It’s wonderful, unusual, and most importantly, it’s a welcome respite from the winter chill.

B and H Buildings greenhouse

3. B & H Buildings

For a pseudo-alfresco experience, head in and straight back to the greenhouse room. With a glass ceiling, floral prints and lots of foliage … you’ll feel like you’re right out in the countryside — no matter the weather.

Le Chalet at Selfridges4. Le Chalet at Selfridges

Can’t afford a ski holiday? Not a problem. Selfridges has its own candlelit alpine chalet right in the heart of London, where you can nip in for some après-shop nosh and drinks. From rotisserie meats to mulled wine, this place has the winter classics covered.

The Glasshouse at Carom Soho

5. Carom Soho

When London chucks down its less than desirable weather (as it so often does), instead of feeling miserable – get yourself down here. With a sunny glass-covered terrace, you can kick back in a swinging chair and laugh off the rain while throwing back a few drinks. Plus the south Indian fare is flavourful, filling, well executed and well priced.

6. Forza Win(ter)

Because winter dining outside can be fun. Expect communal tables, winter warmers, live music and seriously indulgent fonduta. Think fondue, but Italian — with heaps of meat and veg to dip into it. For a glimpse of last year’s event, check out the video above. Warning: it will make you hungry AND happy.
Thurs-Sat, 30 Oct — 20 December. Tickets are £30 and include a hot aperitivo.

Vivo Islington roof terrace7. Vivo Winter Rooftop

Vivo was racking up punters during London’s lengthy summer season, but just in time for the winter weather — the bar will be transformed into a fully-heated, marquee sheltering during the colder months. Perfect for work parties or afternoon catch-ups, you can feast down on hearty Italian food outside in the height of winter.

— Sasha Filimonov, @SashaSips

Beaufort Bar at The Savoy

Beaufort Bar at The SavoyThe Beaufort Bar at The Savoy is an art deco masterpiece and one of the singularly most decadent drinking holes in London. And by hole, we mean hotel extraordinaire. Walking in, you’ll feel every ounce special occasion — even if it’s just a Monday after-work tipple. Even though the Beaufort is a new addition following the 2011 multi-million refurb, the bar is set up on the hotel’s former cabaret stage where legendary performers used to entertain. From Frank Sinatra to Marilyn Monroe, the world’s greatest have whiled away the hours here … and you should too.

Since the bar’s a stage, it’s only appropriate that the drinks be theatrical. And boy, are they. The menu itself is a work of art — a pop-up book that you’ll want to take home — and you can for a cool 50 squids. To start, try the fresh yet insanely balanced Embankment Gardens. This is a straight-up citrus number that is just sharp enough with a beautiful earthiness from the fig syrup. The bartenders even collect the figs themselves from the neighbouring gardens. If you’re finishing off your evening, then order The Ratification — a drink that takes inspiration from Italian and Mexican flavours. Made with Rattafia, Martini Rosato that’s pressure infused with fresh strawberries, mezcal, tequila blanco, a bit of Kahlua and is garnished with an edible shot of freeze-dried raspberries and chocolate coffee beans which coats your mouth and as you drink through the drink, it enhances the flavour.

Every night you’ll be treated to live music, so it’s perfect for really impressing a date. Lush, luxurious and incredibly special.

Best Bars tip: You’ll be hard pressed to find a better setting than this to watch cabaret. And over 80 years after they first started at The Savoy, Cabaret Evenings are back at the Beaufort — taking place on the first Sunday of every month. Top talent from around the world come in to give you a show filled with acrobatics, hula hoops, magic, juggling and more.

— Sasha Filimonov, @SashaSips

Beaufort Bar at The Savoy Hemingway book Budi Photography
Budi Photography