Hare & Hounds

Hare and Hounds Birmingham diningThe Hare & Hounds is a neighbourhood boozer with international musical reach and some of the most forward-thinking club nights in the region. Two upstairs venues cover off everything from jazz to to comedy to D’n’B, while pub quizzes, home-cooked grub and weekend DJs keep both the old and new sides of the bar downstairs busy every night of the week.

We like the regularly changing guest ales and reassuringly sizeable selection of ciders for sunny afternoons which turn in to all-nighters. For a more conversational start to your visit, try the newly-renovated side of the bar where classic cocktails are now being dispensed.

Not a venue where punters generally stop in for just one — we’ve lost whole weekends to this Birmingham giant.

Best Bars tip: Sign up to the e-newsletter to avoid missing out on the next big musical thing. UB40 started here.

– Katy Drohan, ICHOOSEBirmingham.com

Hare and Hounds Birmingham

The 14 Best New London Bars of 2014

Peg and Patriot Bethnal Green Road1. Peg + Patriot

Nestled in Bethnal Green’s classically beautiful Town Hall Hotel, there’s a hot spot that will tempt you further eastward — just beyond the boundaries of Shoreditch. Peg + Patriot is the latest haunt from talented drinksman Matt Whiley (of Talented Mr Fox), and he’s brought his unique style of cocktail-making to the East End.

Mission Bethnal Green Addie Chinn
© Addie Chinn

2. Mission

Sitting within the naturally atmospheric railway arches on Bethnal Green’s Paradise Row, Mission’s copper-topped bar, ceiling-high palm tree, and alit wine-filled backbar all seamlessly come together to bring you that quintessential modern wine experience. Plus the food is extraordinary too.

The Sun Tavern bar high res3. The Sun Tavern

Taking a casual approach in setting, this unassuming pub on Bethnal Green Road is pure magic inside. The dim, narrow, candelit space is equal parts cool and sexy with an L-shaped bar that’s lit up with some of the snazziest lanterns we’ve seen around. This is another page ripped straight off the New York City playbook, striking that perfect balance of Irish dive bar-meets-cocktail den.

Dandelyan Mondrian London interior4. Dandelyan

This is one seriously talented team and they’ve brought their magic touch to South Bank’s hot hotel, Mondrian London, manning the Dandelyan bar as well as creating drinks for the entire hotel (from the Sea Containers restaurant to bottled cocktails in the mini fridges). The design is sleek and sexy, with deep purples and shades of green … oh, and the view of the Thames and St Paul’s is rather impressive too.

City Social London5. City Social

Socialising just got slightly darker, a bit sexier and a whole lot higher. Sitting pretty on the 24th floor of Tower 42, Jason Atherton’s skyrise outpost City Social is more art deco than the rest. We wouldn’t blame you for feeling like you are in one of New York City’s mainstay, high-rise haunts.

El Nivel Day of the Dead6. El Nivel

Tucked just above the long-loved La Perla is agaveria El Nivel — courtesy of industry legend Tomas Estes and his son Jesse. A departure from the 17 other Estes venues, this is a slightly more upscale venture with draped curtains, colourful Mexican artwork and Latin retro vibes. The bright and sunny room may be small, but the bar is big on service – and will bring you an intimate and elegant drinking experience every time.

Shrub and Shutter Brixton food and drink7. Shrub and Shutter

This one’s a little out of the way, but so worth a visit. Stepping into The Shrub and Shutterfeels like being in a giant terrarium – there are plants, the flicker of candles, slates on the walls and metal cans decorating the shelves and ceiling. The menus are on the wall, and they’ll catch your attention real quick: what’s growing in this bar is one helluva cocktail list.

High Water Stoke Newington Road interior8. High Water

Come hell or High Water, Dalston has a new chilled out cocktail haven. This treasure of a bar is the product of one seriously talented team, so whatever your tipple of choice, it will be perfectly executed and utterly delicious. Classics are bang on, and so are all their twists.

POND Dalston
©2014 Tom Mannion

9. POND Dalston

Always wanted to take that dream holiday to Hawaii? Well, we can’t help you there. Or maybe we can … welcome to London’s little slice of island paradise: POND Dalston. This happy haunt comes courtesy of Byron Knight, who has put his magic touch on places like Duke’s Brew & Que as well as Off Broadway (if you haven’t been to either of those, get them in the diary). The kitchen is manned by talented chef Frog Wong while the bar is pumping out elegant tropical cocktails by Megs DeMeulenare.

Original Sin Stoke Newington Road
© Addie Chinn

10. Original Sin

The guys from Happiness Forgets have spread their magic touch, and this time it’s a slightly bigger (but definitely as beautiful) operation on Stoke Newington Road. Welcome toOriginal Sin. This basement bar is all dim lighting, cosy booths, free pool and there’s one seriously long bar that begs for you to come perch on.

Bar Termini Soho window11. Bar Termini

Italian-styled cocktail spot Bar Termini is bringing glamour back to train station drinking. The design is pared back with nods to railways (like the overhead shelving) and the dark nighttime setting makes it rather intimate indeed. Cocktails are premixed in Tony C’s lab, so you can expect precision, consistency and most importantly, perfection. One of our favourite 69 Colebrooke Row drinks has made it over to this site: the simple-looking yet complex-tasting Terroir.

WC Wine and Charcuterie Clapham12. WC — Wine & Charcuterie

Drinking in the toilet just got classy. Think we’re mad? Think again. WC Wine and Charcuterie has opened in Clapham Common underground station’s toilets. Having lain derelict for years, the 100-year-old, listed cubicles have been given a bloody good once over and now house one of London’s most talked about bars.

East London Liquor Company bar13. East London Liquor Company

Sitting in the back of what at first looks like a car park, is one of east London’s finest and newest gems — the East London Liquor Company. An industrial-yet-airy bar with copper touches and it’s biggest treat: an in-house distillery where the staff are crafting their own gins, vodkas and whiskies. If you’ve ever seen a backbar more beautiful than this … well, you probably haven’t.

Dishoom King's Cross14. Dishoom King’s Cross

The third and largest outpost of Dishoom is another beautifully designed Bombay café, setting up shop in the foodie destination of Granary Square. The warehouse-like space manages to ooze charm with antique knick-knacks and brass touches throughout. The Permit Room bar downstairs fits 90 people and opens at 5pm every day, so swing by for spicy twists on ginny numbers or even some zesty and fruity mocktails. They also have a whole selection of pre-batched cocktails for your pleasure.

Honourable mentions:

Peony at Opium, Verden, B & H Buildings, Loves Company, Merchant House, 184 Hackney Road, Portside Parlour, and The Whip.

— Sasha Filimonov, @SashaSips

Best New Year’s Eve Parties in London

From fireworks spotting to late-night masquerade balls to no-bookings events, we’ve rounded up the BEST New Year’s Eve parties around. Let’s go into 2015 with a bang!

ALTERNATIVE NYE EVENTS

Earlham Street Clubhouse 90s Superhero Party90’s Super Hero Party at Earlham Street Clubhouse
Because this bar knows how to do 90s kitsch right. Come dressed in your finest superhero regalia and find your very own Superman (or woman) to save you at midnight.
Tickets are £15 including entry and complimentary superhero cocktails from 7:30pm-8pm.
7pm-3am. 35 Earlham Street, London, WC2H 9LD

All Star LanesNew Year’s Rockin’ Eve at All Star Lanes 
Retro rock ‘n roll tunes will be spun by the DJ into the wee hours. From funk and soul to DISCO — you’ll be swinging and shaking on AND off the lanes. Dress code is hip cats and dolls, and there’s a £100 bar tab up for grabs if you’ve come in the best fancy dress. Get stuck in to some bowling, boozy shakes, and drag *that* guy or gal into the kissing photo booth for some naughtier fun.
Free entry. New Year’s Eve package is £30 which includes two courses, a glass of prosecco and a game of bowling.
Open until 3am. Various locations.

Bounce Ping Pong HolbornUVNYE at Bounce
Because you might want to let out that competitive spirit to see out 2014. Bounce is a ping pong mecca and the whole place will be lit up by UV lights — so we reckon it’s best to don your whitest whites. There will be unlimited UV ping pong all night (with free play on ALL tables), UV face painters to make you glow, special cocktail prizes for the BEST UV outfits and DJs spinning retro party anthems.
Tickets are £10-£15.
8:30pm-3am. No entry after 11:30pm. 121 Holborn, London, EC1N 2TD.

LAB interiorThat 70’s NYE at LAB
If you fancy a bit of nostalgia, why not boogie on down to renowned cocktail bar LAB (London Academy of Bartenders), famous for being the birthplace of the original Pornstar Martini, for an inspiring 70’s themed party. Expect great cocktails, champagne and bartenders who really know their stuff all to the tune of 70’s classics all night long.
Tickets are £25 for earlybird, £30 for general admission, both including a complimentary cocktail and shooter on arrival.
8pm-3am. 12 Old Compton Street, W1d 4TQ.

CHEAP

The Sun Tavern cocktail high res

NYE at The Sun Tavern
With a host of DJs playing rock n’ roll from every era, new east London hot spot The Sun Tavern offers punch cocktails, classic mixed drinks and fine ales. If you fancy something a bit Irish, they have over 40 different spirits from the land, including whiskies and tasty poitins.
£5 per ticket for guaranteed entry before 9pm. Tickets on sale at the bar.
Open until 3am, 441 Bethnal Green Road, London E2 0AN.

Callooh Callay Shoreditch

New Year’s Eve at Callooh Callay
Head down to this quirky Shoreditch venue, entering a world through a wardrobe reminiscent of a certain C.S. Lewis novel, you will find a transformed dance floor with glitz, glamour and beautifully constructed cocktails within one of the coolest hotspots in the area. Dazzle your way into 2015 with some of the best and deliciously strong cocktails you’re likely to drink anywhere in east London.
Standard entry is £15, with a seat at the main bar costing £20 and upstairs bar seating costing £25.
7pm-2am. 65 Rivington St, London, EC2A 3AY.

The Cat and Mutton NYENew Year’s Eve 2015 at The Cat & Mutton
Party into the wee hours at one of the best East End boozers around. Resident DJs will be on hand to give you the greatest funk, soul and disco tunes all night long. *And tickets are hella cheap.*
Tickets are £5.
Open until 3am. 76 Broadway Market, London, E8 4QJ.

Looking Glass Cocktail Club ShoreditchTry Hard Party at Looking Glass Cocktail Club
Ah Shoreditch. You love it or hate it. But mostly love it. And we can all admit that it’s often filled with one too many “try hards” so here’s your chance to have a go (in the friendliest of ways). So come in your best “try hard” outfit — i.e. like you just rolled out of bed and haven’t bathed in weeks, but your hair is perfectly dishevelled. Performer Maya Petrovna, neo-burlesque artist Lolo Brow and DJ Testu Gomorrah are gonna smash New Year’s Eve and bring Shoreditch its best party yet.
£10 before 10pm, £15 after.
8pm-5am. 49 Hackney Rd, Hackney, London E2 7NX.

FANCY DRESS

london cocktail club oxford circusBlack and Gold Masquerade NYE at London Cocktail Club Oxford Circus
A night of masked men and masked women with classic LCC tunes pumping all night long. If you get in early, you’ll be treated to 2-for-£10 cocktails from 7pm-9pm. And the DJs will be hitting the decks at 10pm.
Tickets are £10-£40 and include various treats.
7pm-3am. 4 Great Portland Street, London W1W 8QJ. 

Kettner's SohoBlack Tie Masquerade Ball at Kettner’s Soho
This is a pricier option, but if you want to get really fancy for New Year’s — then get in here. The opulent Georgian townhouse provides the perfect setting for a masquerade ball, with lots of rooms for exploring (and midnight smooching). Plus there will be cabaret, swing dance lessons, burlesque performances, live music and DJs until 3am.
Tickets are £50-£110, some tickets include cost of three-course dinner.
Doors at 7:30pm-3am. 29 Romilly Street, London, W1D 5HP.

main hall steam and rye cocktail bar london“New York, New York” New Year’s Eve at Steam and Rye
Dazzling dancers and a live band playing all of your favourite American movie soundtrack hits, this is a taste of life in the Big Apple (1920s-style). Whether you just want a bit of a dance, dinner too, or your very own VIP carriage … there’s an option for everyone — just depends on your budget.
Dancing tickets are £20, dinner and dancing tickets are £50-£70, VIP carriages from £500.
6pm-3am. 147 Leadenhall Street, London, EC3V 4QT.

The Blues Kitchen NYE TarantinoTarantino Party at Blues Kitchen Shoreditch
Party down like you’re at Jack Rabbit Slims, with live music, fancy dress, five-dollar shakes and a TWIST CONTEST! And of course DJs will be on hand playing the finest vintage soul and soundtrack tunes until 4am.
Party tickets are £25. Party and dinner tickets are £50.
7pm-4am. 134-136 Curtain Road, London, EC2A 3AR.

NO BOOKING REQUIRED

Lost and Found NYENew Year’s Eve at Lost & Found
Classic cocktails, fruity vodka shots and free entry, if that sounds like your cup of tea then why not try this little bar in Balham. Relatively unknown, this cocktail bar has been open just over a year and is the perfect location to enjoy a cool and comfortable evening with tunes pumping until 3am. Plus they have their own vodka luge. Boom!
Free entry.
5pm-3am. 10 Bedford Hill, London SW12 9RG. 

Pub on the park exterior

NYE at Pub on the Park
Watch fireworks at this popular pub on the edge of London Fields, with two DJs spinning some of their best tunes over two floors, prizes and pub ale to enjoy in a huge beer garden (and it’s heated!). Best of all it’s free — and you don’t even have to book.
Free entry.
12pm-2am. 19 Martello St, E8 3PE. 

New cross inn stage

Nightbus to Catford NYE at New Cross Inn
A cheap and alternative way to welcome in 2015. A one-off special with DJs playing motown, ska, northern soul and reggae in south east London, you can turn up without a booking and pay a few quid. Cheap as chips.
£5 entry, £3 before 9pm.
8pm till late. New Cross Inn, 323A New Cross Road, SE14 6AS.

LUXE

Madison's interior Paul Winch-Furness / Photographer
Paul Winch-Furness
Midnight Madness at Madison
For those who fancy an evening of class and entertainment, look no further than Madison for a night of burlesque, cirque de soir acts, DJ superstars and even a string quartet. The night begins with a prosecco reception, canapes throughout the evening, a champagne mini at midnight, evening snacks and one of the very best spots to watch the fireworks.
8pm-2am. Rooftop Terrace, 1 New Change, St Paul’s, London, EC4M 9AF.
Le Pont de la Tour Tower Bridge
Welcome the new year à la française with sophistication and beautiful French cuisine with a six-course menu, including truffles, lobster and foie gras. Earlier seating can secure those with larger purse strings a place on their very own The Eramus to view the famous firework display down the Thames in style. Those who’d like to dine later with feet firmly on the ground can enjoy the same dining experience at a lower cost. There will be live music to accompany your night whilst you sip unlimited champagne all night long.
Until 2am. 36D Shad Thames, London SE1 2YE.
— Sasha Filimonov, @SashaSips; Nicola Carruthers, @Nik_Carruthers

MOJO

MOJO Leeds“Good Times Forever” is a pretty weighty motto for a bar to live by, and whilst we know that 18 years isn’t quite forever, since its opening in 1996 MOJO has shown no sign of straying from its hardy original promise. This is a party bar that never disappoints.

Drinks stay true to the bar’s fun, fast-paced nature. There’s a decent, rotating beer selection, a short but sweet wine offering and quick-serve cocktails – based on the staff’s best tried and tested recipes. MOJO has always made a big deal about being fanatical about rum, which is shown through perfected signature mixes such the Rumirez — a rum twist on a Martinez, and the best-selling MOJO Hurricane that comes garnished with your own little voodoo doll. Hardshakes are also not to be missed. Try the Dr Kraken Float — Kraken spiced rum and Dr. Pepper with an ice cream float and cherry on top. Americana-style bar bites are made fresh on site including burgers, wings, garlic butter fries and mac & cheese. Gluten-free alternatives and dessert dishes make a nice addition to the menu.

Bar staff are not only hired for drinks expertise but also for their impressive knowledge of music, so it’s no surprise that MOJO’s soundtrack borders on the epic. Those behind the bar run the show here so anything goes from reggae to rock and roll, funk, soul and indie. It’s an eclectic mix but fine tuned to whatever mood the crowd’s in for … which is usually hard-core partying.

Best Bars tip: The bar’s Rhum Room is one of our favourite Leeds spaces. It houses 100 rums, including incredibly rare blends, hosts intimate rum masterclasses and has a fantastic weekend vibe.

— Mieke-Kyra Smith, @mieke_chu

MOJO Leeds

The UK’s 15 Best Bars for Debauchery

It’s not always about sitting down for a sophisticated cocktail. Sometimes you just want to cut loose, drink shots and party down until the sun comes up. Here are the UK’s BEST bars for debauchery. Now whatever mischief you get yourselves into, it ain’t our fault … enjoy!

LONDON

Aces and Eights Tufnell Park1. Aces and Eights, Tufnell Park

You can chuck out some proper shapes here. And the pizza is pretty damned good.

casita shoreditch tequila con verdita2. Casita, Shoreditch

It might be one of London’s teeniest charms, but what Casita lacks in square footage it makes up for in personality. This is the kind of bar you pop into for a quick one and then end up cancelling all of your plans (happily so).

Covent Garden cocktail club3. Covent Garden Cocktail Club, Covent Garden

Live piano music, sing-a-long throwback tunes, crazy-looking cocktails and some of the happiest party people in town. If you’re not feeling up to it, nip down here and they’ll turn that frown upside down — guaranteed.

El Camion Soho4. El Camion, Soho

An industry mecca, El Camion is where the drinks trade comes to party late into the night and sink back tequilas.

Modern love old street5. Modern Love, Shoreditch

With blackboard walls, plenty of chalk, and an easygoing crowd bopping about to garage rock — don’t be surprised at the more adult content drawn up on the walls. You can even have a go at one-upping them yourself. And remember, downstairs is for dancing. End of.

Slim Jim's Liquor Store Angel6. Slim Jim’s Liquor Store, Angel

You 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. 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. And we should probably tell you, if you give them your bra, they’ll give you a free drink. Now the decision is yours.

The Dolphin Hackney7. The Dolphin, Hackney

East London hipsters are a given, but those fond of a tipple – or twelve – come in by the bus-load after 3pm. Music-lovers are also in luck, as it often holds free events showcasing upcoming talent – from acoustic guitarists to spinning DJs.

trailer happiness notting hill8. Trailer Happiness, Notting Hill

The 70s basement décor is cheeky and cheerful, much like their staff and drinks. So when you’re looking to cut loose, there’s little better than this ode to Polynesia/Tiki-Americana, kitted out with (un)ironic shag carpets and Tretchikoff prints.

EDINBURGH

Garibaldi's Edinburgh
Kinga Sosnowska

9. Garibaldi’s

This cheeky spot is where Edinburgh comes to play. Garibaldi’s is a colourful Mexican-themed institution, beloved by all, boozed in by all, pole danced in by all. It’s late-night partying seven days a week, and it’s impossible not to shed your inhibitions here … the tequila shooters will make sure of that.

LEEDS

Neon Cactus Leeds fire10. Neon Cactus

One tequila, two tequila, three tequila … and then it all gets a bit hazy, but we’re told Neon Cactus is home to well over 70 types of this beautiful spirit. The vibrant-themed joint not only specialises in Mexico’s infamous liquor but also brings the nation’s love for traditional street food, upbeat vibes and late-night partying to Leeds’ Call Lane.

Oporto Leeds hot dog eating contest11. Oporto

Oporto is a must-visit for music lovers and late night revellers. This Leeds rock bar certainly lives up to its slogan/hazard warning of “Go Hard or Go Home”. Prepare yourself: you’re in for a night of heavy music, all night partying and shots, lots and lots of shots.

LIVERPOOL

Rum Aloha Liverpool12. Aloha

So Tiki it hurts, Aloha’s Polynesian carvings, colourful flowery wallpaper and bars set in wooden shacks transport guests to tropical climes where rum is king and Piña Coladas are served in fresh pineapples. This large basement bar attracts a fun crowd who are keen to dance in the packed room to classic songs and cheesy numbers.

El Bandito Liverpool Millionaire cocktail13. El Bandito

Open every night until 5am with all the tequila you could ever want. Viva Mexico!

MANCHESTER

Liars Club Manchester bartenders and fire14. The Liars Club

A bright and flaming Tiki den, The Liars Club is all about having a real good raucous time. From cheeky flaring tricks from the bartenders to bangin’ reggae tunes to bamboo huts – you’d struggle not to cut loose down here.

MOJO manchester bartender15. MOJO

Rock ‘n roll tunes, shots galore and dancing on the bar. The party doesn’t get any better (or more debaucherous) than this.

— Sasha Filimonov, @SashaSips

The Site Office

The Site Office pop up BirminghamBirmingham is harbouring a deliciously stylish password-only pop-up, The Site Office, in which exposed brickwork, candlelit cubby holes and Chesterfields are de rigueur.

With a spirit offering befitting of its industry-insider crowd, if you can get it, try the Black Cow — that’s vodka made from Cornish cows’ milk to you and me. Another Site Office must-try is sherry cask-aged dark rum in the form of the inimitable Dos Maderas, hidden in the defilade of a woodwork project, posing as a bar.

With guest DJs that will keep you vertical until past bedtime, make your arrival no earlier than 10pm and enthusiastically wave goodbye to that last train home.

Best Bars tip: Follow, like and generally stalk The Site Office on Facebook to find out about future events. Or if you are impatient like us, hire the whole thing and throw yourself a humdinger of a private party.

– Katy Drohan, ICHOOSEBirmingham.com

The Site Office pop up Birmingham

Paradise Palms

Paradise Palms EdinburghParadise Palms is a little bit of the Vegas Sunset Strip dropped into the centre of Edinburgh’s Potterrow area. The décor is a mixture which goes beyond the eclectic into the downright fun: neon, green foliage, disco balls, cabaret club velvet and a huge stuffed boar’s head above the bar to complete the theme of having almost no theme. Somehow it all gels into an environment which is unique yet comfortable.

The Palms have teamed up with local street food mercenaries Ninja Buns who have committed a full kitchen takeover. We tried one of their signature efforts, a Taiwanese steamed bun packed full of Aberdeenshire pulled pork marinated in soy, ginger, garlic and star anise – those sneaky Ninjas know their buns! The bar team have put a big focus on tequila and mezcal – so the Paloma, a thirst quenching mix of tequila, fresh grapefruit and Caribbean soda Ting, was their recommendation. But there’s a great selection of beers too if that’s your thing.

The Potterrow area is the heart of the local university district and students and locals alike flock here for a great mix of music, killer cocktails and gourmet street food. The entertainment on offer is a mix of fresh local bands, DJs and cabaret nights.

Best Bars tip: Check in and chill out. The Best Bars team could have spent all night here and will the next time. Enjoy the atmosphere and ask the guys what’s going on later at night as that’s when the stage comes to life.

— Martin Duffy, @DuffyDrinks

Paradise Palms Edinburgh food