The Drawing Room

The Drawing Room BFI SouthbankThe BFI is a bit of a maze, with things to discover on all floors – cinemas, exhibitions, but bars too. Entering from the riverside, you’ll have to adventure yourself deep inside the building to find yourself in The Drawing Room, a small and cosy cocktail bar attached to Benugo, where the library décor sees conversation and drinks flowing.

It’s got a bit of that classic London vibe to it, so the menu’s got a welcome focus on bubbles and Martinis, with well-executed drinks with just a touch of inventiveness to surprise Southbank tourists and entice boozers. The Quince and Vanilla Bean Margarita combines powerful and tangy flavours for something very moreish, while the Elderflower and Violet Blossom is a simple and delicate pleaser. There’s a few draughts and plenty of wine to pick from too.

It’s really the atmosphere that makes this worth the visit though. Set a bit away from the BFI, it’s calmer and quieter, and the ceiling-high bookshelves filled with quirky old books and old-school posters on the walls make this perfect for a date night, or a long conversation about noir films with your dad over a whisky. You get the picture…

Best Bars tip: There are a few nibbles to try too – try the empanadas platter!

— Gaëlle Laforest, @gaellelaforest

The Drawing Room BFI Southbank

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

The Kenton

The Kenton Mile End beer gardenNothing beats a neighbourhood boozer, and the people of Hackney have a fair few to choose from. Mile End-ers are lucky that The Kenton manages east London cool while bypassing the pretension that often comes along with it. Mixing antiques with modern curiosities, the Norwegian-run pub offers what you’d expect from a local watering hole, along with a couple of surprises along the way. American pale ales are, obviously, on the menu – Dogfish Head DNA most notably – as is Jeremiah Weed and a crowd-pleasing roster of cocktails … Viking Blood, anyone?

Lancashire-based Northern Soul Food provide the grub. Burgers start at £6.50 – amazing – and range from classic cheeseburgers to the likes of The Bambino, containing 100% wild venison with spiced red cabbage, Dijon mustard and cheese. Sunday roasts are provided in-house, too. Well, it wouldn’t be a neighbourhood pub if they didn’t.

The huge range of extra-curricular (the curricular being drinking) activities is impressive. Pop along for a film night, take part in quizzes or try your hand at the Rock N Roll bingo. You can even take advantage of the beer garden which, in the colder months, has blankets to keep punters cosy.

Best Bars tip: Go midweek for Wine Wednesdays, or get out of work quick on Fridays to take part in Rock, Paper, Scissors against the barmen. If you beat them, your drink is half-price. Winner.

— Millie Milliken, @milliemilliken

The Kenton pub Mile End food

The Junction

The Junction Birmingham foodSet in a commanding Victorian building at the top of Harborne High Street, open fireplaces, chequerboard tiles and sink-in-to-me-and-never-leave booth seating places The Junction squarely into must-have weekend territory.

With six regularly changing real ales and a stellar reputation for world beers – and that’s before world beers were a thing – The Junction just gets us. And if the bubbly brown stuff isn’t your thing, the rich yet revitalising Bloody Mary alongside Saturday brunch or The Junction’s epic Sunday lunch is our drink of choice.

Get your hands on a paper, some pals and settle in for the long haul – The Junction has everything you could possibly need. It even does boardgames.

Best Bars tip: Sunny day? The secluded beer garden, which isn’t visible from the front of the pub, is sometimes overlooked.

– Katy Drohan, ICHOOSEBirmingham.com

The Junction Birmingham interior

London Beer Week 2015 Guide

London beer week high resIt has begun: London Beer Week is officially on so you better HOP into the festivities (sorry, we couldn’t resist). To make things easier, we’ve rounded up the BEST activities and bars so you don’t miss one frothy bit. From 16-22 February, you will have a huge array of tastings, tours and tipples around Londontown to keep you busy (and all you need to do is get a £10 wristband).

MONDAY

London beer week barrel aged ihlBarrel Aged IHL Launch Party

For one night only, you’ll discover a brand new beer that’s be aged for six months in one tequila and six bourbon barrels. Plus you’ll get to check out the all-too-lovely The Kings Arms in Bethnal Green.
Free, 6pm, The Kings Arms Pub, 11A Buckfast Street, Bethnal Green, E2 6EY.

TUESDAY

London beer week brewhouse islington

The Big Flavour Beer Dinner

Enjoy a tasting with head brewer Pete Hughes of original house-brewed Brewhouse & Kitchen beers plus adventurous international guest beers from the experts at Boutique Bar Brands. They will be matched with chef’s seven-course taster dinner.
£25, 7.30pm, Brewhouse and Kitchen Islington, Torrens Street, EC1V 1NQ.

WEDNESDAY

London beer week crate brewery

Meet The Brewer with CRATE Brewery

Whether you’re an experienced home brewer or simply an enthusiastic craft beer drinker you’ll love the in-depth knowledge and comedy stylings of CRATE brewers Calum Bennet and Mark Peather at this special event. CRATE will also be taking over the taps at the Windsor Castle with their wide range of cask and kegged beers for your pleasure. And if you’ve never been to CRATE, you better believe you’ll want to go now.
Free, 7pm, The Windsor Castle, 135 Lower Clapton Road, E5 8EQ.

THURSDAY

london beer week the hops and glory

Brewery Launch at The Hops & Glory

One of the best pubs London has to offer has decided to launch its very own ON-SITE brewery. You’ll get to taste the beginning of their upcoming range of beers ranging from crisp, clean Pale Ales to Belgian Tripels.
Free, 8pm, The Hops & Glory, 382 Essex Road, Islington.

FRIDAY

London beer week beekeeper#BeeFactFriday Meet The Beekeeper and Hiver Tasting

Beers + bees = one hell of a buzz. Hiver Beers Founder, Hannah Rhodes, will be introducing Barnaby Shaw of Bee Urban London, who will offer an insight into the life of urban beekeeping and answering any questions you might have. There’ll be bee suits to try on, honeys to sample, a beehive to peer into and of course samples of award-winning Hiver for LBW wristband holders to enjoy.
Free, 7.30pm, Translate, 12-14 Kingsland Road, E2 8DA.

SATURDAY & SUNDAY

london beer week craft beer rising

Craft Beer Rising

Now this list wouldn’t be complete if we didn’t include Craft Beer Rising. 70 breweries, 450 different beers, and an onslaught of adventurous innovations and bold new flavours. Expect more craft beer than you could ever imagine (duh), lots of smoky street food, and a party pumping with DJs spinning tunes all weekend long.
Tickets £18.70-£22. Old Truman Brewery, 91 Brick Lane, E1 6QL.

BEST BEER WEEK BARS

The Sun Tavern London Beer Week

The Sun Tavern

go and check out one of our favourite east London haunts and sip down on Camden Town Brewery’s Pale Ale for £3 … until its gone. Or have a boilermaker and try poitin (it’s like Irish moonshine) with half a beer for just a fiver.

big easy covent gardenBig Easy Covent Garden

Big, bold and beautiful — this Americana-styled hot spot has won the hearts of Covent Garden dwellers with its saucy ribs and frosty beers. Come by for £3 Meantime Brewery Fresh London Lager.

The Blues Kitchen ShoreditchThe Blues Kitchen — Shoreditch

A temple to the coolest B’s in the book: blues, BBQ and booze. Drop in for a taste of Innis and Gunn Original. And if we were you, we’d DEFINITELY upgrade to the £5 Woodford Reserve boilermaker.

Hawksmoor Spitalfields Bar Hawksmoor Spitalfields

An underground haven for all things meat and booze. This is a sophisticated Spitalfields spot that’s just the right amount of trendy — with bang on burgers and BBQ too. Order yourself a bottle of Hibernation White IPA to go with those meaty eats.

Oskar's Bar in Dabbous interiorOskar’s Bar in Dabbous

A cocktail master, Oskar knows how to churn out some of the tastiest hoptails in town. Keep it simple and order the Pale Ale OR upgrade to The Drink With No Name, made with Woodford Reserve bourbon, greengage, ginger ale, lemon and Einstök pale ale.

The Cocktail Trading Company interior

 

The Cocktail Trading Company

Cosy pub vibes, party drinks and an intimate atmosphere tucked underneath Central & Co. This tiny basement bar is an incredible addition to the Soho drinking scene, and you need to swing by for their hoptail Boiler Baker (only a bang for your buck fiver!).

— 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

Belgrave Music Hall

Belgrave Music hall LeedsLeeds’ north quarter channels east London vibes with this trendy, bustling venue. Across Belgrave Music Hall’s three floors you’ll find food, live music, an art market, film screenings, a token french bulldog or two (of course) and the city’s most impressive roof terrace.

Serving a wide selection of cask ales, premium lagers and craft brews (including the venue’s own craft beer made with Northern Monk Brew Company), this is the ideal drinking spot for beer lovers. If you’re not into hops you can choose from straight up mixers, no-fuss slushy cocktails, a short wine list or get a caffeine fix with fresh coffee courtesy of Laynes Espresso. Canteen-style street food is served up by Dough Boys, the in-house “pizza pilgrims” who deliver a constantly changing menu of locally sourced products and vegan and gluten-free options. If you’re a foodie, you’ll love Belgrave Feast which takes over the venue every second Saturday of the month to showcase independent food vendors from all around the country.

It’s easy to see Belgrave Music Hall as one of the most exciting spaces on the Leeds scene. Its east London-inspired décor with industrial touches and minimalist bold designs make the perfect backdrop for the eclectic roster of music, arts and film performances. The large roof terrace itself is enough to draw a crowd, decked out with fake grass, quirky heated huts, deck chairs and its own mini bar. Whether you’re up for food, booze or art, this is the ultimate year-round hangout for any culture vultures, foodies and beer enthusiasts.

Best Bars tip: Love dough? Pizza slices are half price until 7pm, Sunday – Thursday and 5pm Friday and Saturday.

— Mieke-Kyra Smith, @mieke_chu

Belgrave Music Hall Leeds beer garden