Bar Opus

Bar Opus Birmingham exteriorThe Opus dynasty has launched the third member of its stripped-back, airy and oh-so convivial family. Introducing: Bar Opus. A bedazzling selection of food and drink is served from 7am-11pm at this ideal spot for people watching, whether you opt for a seat on the piazza or behind the floor-to-ceiling glass frontage.

With a bar stocked to impress the most discerning of imbibers, for the sweeter pallet, we like the Autumn Bellini (bumbleberry or pear, prosecco), while the Opus Lager is bound to become the go-to drink for the “suits” that aren’t in the mood for the stonkingly well-crafted wine list.

Try the Brixham Bay bouillabaisse for a client lunch or wait until 5pm for a livelier after-work scene.

Best Bars tip: Secure an evening spot alongside the open kitchen for first dibs on the glazed baby chorizo sharing plate.

— Katy Drohan, ICHOOSEBirmingham.com

Bar Opus Birmingham

L’Escargot

L'Escargot

L’Escargot: a Soho institution that exudes French flavours and old-world panache. For one of the most classic (and classy) dinners in town, book yourself into the restaurant. But if you want a members’ club experience that’s intimate, quirky and high brow – then get yourself upstairs. With a few fresh licks of paint and an insane art collection, this 280-year-old townhouse is perfect for sophisticated yet laid-back, grown-up sipping.

Coco Chanel used to imbibe here, so we say go for classic cocktails and head to the Salon Grande Siècle for a big, bright experience. We’re particularly fond of the bubbly French 75 made with gin, champagne and a whack of lemon for a zesty kick.

If you’re hungry, then tuck into staple fare such as lobster salad or a steak sandwich (done well). And if you’re here, then you know you best be ordering some snails. It’s a sin if you don’t.

Best Bars tip: This labrinthine space is perfect for private parties – no matter the size. Either get your closest pals together for debaucherous drinks in one of the small lounging rooms or throw a massively lavish dinner party for your fanciest friends in the Bureau.

— Sasha Filimonov, @SashaSips

L'Escargot Soho

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

GŎNG at The Shard

GONG at The Shard interiorNot many bars require a bag scanner, two lifts and some serious ear-popping to get into them; but GŎNG was never going to be understated. Sitting perilously on Level 52 of The Shard, the Shangri-La bar is the highest in London. The vertigo sufferers among you will certainly need a stiff drink to deal with the  view from the floor-to-ceiling windows, but those more in sync with their equilibrium will want one to celebrate it. Modern Asian design is the feel with the interiors paying homage to an upmarket Chinese drinking den, with purple furnishings, marble-top tables and a wall made of oriental-style cabinet drawers. Whether you sit in the cocktail or champagne bar, the atmosphere is as you’d expect: quiet and understated.

The menu, however, is anything but. Alongside the obligatory Bollinger and vintage wines, the signature cocktails are a mix of classics and clever twists. The dramatic Big Smoke (a libation consisting of Dodd’s gin, dry sherry and Mancino Rosso Amaranto) comes with a smoking bowl of herbs and spices, and the award-winning Black & Blue Swizzle mixes Talisker, honey, lime, PX sherry and blue cheese. Punchy, to say the least (we’d hope so, at £17 a pop). If you’re looking to mop up your spoils, and you don’t want to venture downstairs to the restaurants, the bar snack menu ranges from tapas to foie gras and Beluga caviar.

If you’re wanting to impress out of towners, then GŎNG is a winner. A couple of sophisticated drinks for a special occasion would go down well here too, and it’s a good excuse to put on a splash of finery while you’re at it. Just make sure you take plenty of dosh to play with – trust us, you’ll need it.

Best Bars tip: After 9pm, the infinity pool opens to imbibers who fancy poolside evening drinks. You can’t say that about a London bar often, can you?

— Millie Milliken, @milliemilliken

GONG at The Shard cocktail

Rumpus Room

Rumpus Room Mondrian LondonThe battle for “bar with the greatest view of London” is a hard-fought one and Rumpus Room is the most recent contender. Facing the river from the top of Mondrian London at Sea Containers, a drink there will definitely give you that Londoner pride feeling – and not least so because the bar’s part of Mr Lyan’s portfolio.

The space really is the star player here. Visit at night, when the room is dark and lit by dandelion-like pendant lamps, the backbar and the city’s windows and streetlights. The deep red sofas are super comfortable, but if the weather’s right, nip out on the terrace to really take in the view.

Drinks wise, the menu’s split between ten classics and ten Rumpus serves – don’t expect the same as downstairs in Dandelyan. Here the drinks are a bit more approachable; twists on well-known names mostly. We liked the fresh and easy-drinking Pineapple Dark’n’Stormy, and the note of hops in the cistrusy Lemon Balm Margarita. There are also a few bites available – if you’ve managed to avoid London’s lobster frenzy, now is really time to give a lobster roll a try.

Best Bars tip: Rumpus Room is often closed for private events, so check before visiting.

–Gaëlle Laforest, @gaellelaforest

Rumpus Room Mondrian London

London Pisco Sour Week: The 7 Best Bars to Celebrate

LONDON PISCO SOUR WEEKLondon is about to feel a whole lot sunnier, as the city’s first Pisco Sour Week is about to kick off. From 1-8 February, seven of the best Peruvian hot spots will be dishing out delicious Pisco Sours (and a few other tasty treats too). So if you don’t spend this week washing down zesty ceviche dishes with frothy sours, then you’re just not doing it right.

All you need to do, is swing by one of these spots to collect your official #LPSW wristband and you can enjoy £5 Pisco Sours ALL. WEEK. LONG. So get registered ASAP! And grab your handy dandy map here.

Pisco Sour Week chotto matte
1. Chotto Matte

Head to Soho’s Chotto Matte – a staple for the fashion set, this is heavy on styling and is one of those places where you come to see and be seen. So go and indulge in the ultimate holiday beverage – a Piscolada – made with 1615 Quebranta, lime, pineapple and Coco Lopez.

LIMA Floral Pisco Bar

2. Lima Floral

When you arrive here, it’ll feel like you’ve died and gone to Peruvian heaven. The food is simply exquisite, and the basement Pisco Bar is too cool for school (or just cool enough). Nab yourself a £5 classic Pisco Sour, or get a tasting of three Piscos for £10 – we’d probably opt for the latter.

Coya Pisco Sour3. Coya

Serving up a slice of Peruvian paradise is the chic and glossy Coya. Downstairs you’ll find the artfully Latin-twinged restaurant and bar, with Peruvian masks, metallic bartops, and brightly coloured furnishings. Swing down for a Pisco Sour FLIGHT! You get to try three of their house-infused varieties for £15: raspberry and thyme, rhubarb, and Williams pear – basically, it’s a triple hitter. Or maybe try the barrel-aged Pisco, which is used in their Negroni in Lima – a Pisco-based aged Negroni. Yum.

Senor Ceviche4. Señor Ceviche

One of Kingly Court’s most recent additions, this bright and buzzy little space will put a pep in your step when the weather’s looking dour. Chow down on fiery chillies and cool off with Pisco Passion Sours – made with, you guessed it, passionfruit.

Pachamama Marylebone5. Pachamama

Head to this Marylebone small plates haven and try their Spiced Chamomile Pisco Sour with Barsol Quebrenta, lime, chamomile syrup, Becherovka, white chardonnay, orinoco bitter and egg white. Floral, fresh and utterly delicious.

Tierra Peru6. Tierra Perú

This place started out as a Camden Market stall, and having graduated to a permanent site in Islington – you can now rest your rump whilst you tuck in to their lengthy menu. To drink, go off piste (and extra zesty) and try the Lucuma & Mandarin Sour with 1615 Torontel Pisco, lucuma pulp, mandarin liqueur, egg white and opi cherry. Don’t know most of those ingredients? Well get adventurous and just dive in!

Tito's Peru7. Titos

A long-standing Peruvian eatery, this is a no-frills affair with hearty feasts and Pisco treats. Go for the Mango Pisco Sour because why not?

— Sasha Filimonov, @SashaSips

Bond No 9

Bond No 9 EdinburghBond No 9 in name refers to its location on Leith’s Commercial Street, in a large building once a whisky bond, shared by a Michelin-starred restaurant, offices and a furniture store among the residents. A lot of the original stone has been revealed in the main area with a good sized bright conservatory out to the rear which can be booked out for events. During the summer months it’s also a great place to park up and enjoy the weather in their outside area.

We made our way there for some decent sustenance after a cycle around Edinburgh’s coastal paths and arrived just in time to grab one of the last tables in the conservatory area. Brunch is served every weekend and the offer of their “bigger breakfast” was too good to skip: pork and herb sausages, smoked bacon, and Stornoway black pudding were the main stars of an ample dish backed up with the usual brunch features. Although the cocktail list is ample and well executed it was a strong cuppa and a virgin Bloody Mary with their house blend of spices for us, this time.

Leith is an area which due to a lot of redevelopment in recent years attracts a diverse crowd and Bond No 9 is no exception. Weekdays the main draw is relaxed food and great coffee, weekends a more restaurant feel is there with patrons enjoying top notch grub served by candlelight. Check their social media too as they’ll often have local DJ talent playing later in the evenings at the weekends.

Best Bars tip: The gantry holding all the spirits at Bond is one of the biggest and most diverse in Edinburgh. This means that they can rustle up not just the drinks from the award winning menu but pretty much anything your heart desires – Pisco Sour anyone?

— Martin Duffy, @DuffyDrinks

Bond No 9 Edinburgh brunch