Yet another installment of the ever-delicious (and secret but not-so-secret) 5cc… this time underneath Singer Tavern on City Road. On the cusp of Shoreditch but still in City bounds, you’ll get a mix of post-work drinkers and trendies getting their gin on. This is the type of place where two worlds happily collide.
If you’re drinking here, then you must try the Three Martini Lunch — this is up for a bit of experimentation so lay your trust in the bartender’s capable hands. Since we’re always inclined to order one of the smokier sips, we loved the Oaxaca Negroni made with mezcal, Campari, Cocchi Torino and a touch of Ocho Blanco tequila. It’s big and booze — just how we like it. Whether you’re a bit peckish or want the whole hog, you can chow down on nibbles from the snacks menu or get a full dinner from the upstairs gastropub.
Coming down with a big group? Sidle into one of the booths that are backed by exposed brick and tucked under the street grates so the lights from above trickle down to your table. Then get into the pirate spirit (really) and order one of the sharing barrels — we’re inclined to go for Lola’s Smash which is a gin-based punch with ELLC Batch 1 gin, cloudy apple, grapes, ginger, lime and basil. Aye, aye captain!
Best Bars tip: If it’s a Monday and you’re still hanging from the weekend, don’t be ashamed to order one of their ‘Shameless’ non-alcoholic cocktails — they’re as good as the hard stuff.
Do you ever get the urge to sail the seven seas? Well now you can and without leaving your favourite create comforts behind, namely a G&T. And while Regent’s Canal isn’t quite the open ocean, there is something truly spectacular about setting sail from King’s Cross and gently floating downstream. The Gin Voyage comes courtesy of one of our favourite chaps, Leon Dalloway, who is the main man responsible for the Gin Journey (another one of the best boozy nights in London).
On this three-hour cruise, you’ll learn about the history of gin, taste a variety of delicious serves and even get to make your own variety that you can take home. Through a juniper-filled haze, you’ll discover a London you didn’t even know existed.
Some of the best bits include venturing into the Islington tunnel, watching the sunset, and of course, drinking plenty of gin. The Voyage costs £70pp, sets sail from King’s Cross at 6:30pm and returns to dock there at 9:30pm. You’ll get six cocktails and two samples of spirit.
Best Bars tip: There’s no food on board, so definitely bring along some snacks and/or eat dinner beforehand. Then once you wrap up here, jump over to one of Granary Square’s finest haunts such as Dishoom, Caravan or go down the road to Vinoteca. The King’s Cross bar crawl just got serious.
The 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.
Bond 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?
If you want to discover London’s best gin delights (and a some more of its best bars), then it’s time to hop on to the Gin Journey. It’s not quite a pub crawl – this is a rather more elegant affair – but either way, it’s just as fun. Put yourself into the capable hands of Leon Dalloway, the dashing chap who’s the brains behind Shake, Rattle and Stir. With a decade of experience working in the drinks industry, needless to say — he knows his stuff.
In one evening, you’ll get to visit five bars, taste five cocktails and five gins, be chauffered around London in a “gin carriage”and learn all about the fascinating history of this iconically British spirit – for the bargain sum of £60. In it’s current incarnation, you’ll start the night off at Merchant House – a beautiful gin and rum bar in the City – where you’ll get to know one of the most awarded gins of the last few decades, Martin Miller’s. From there, it’s on to Tower Bridge where you’ll drink Beefeater among the Beefeaters. Sheer genius. This stop is at Perkin Reveller, and as it’s your opportunity to order some food – we say, take it up. We quite nearly ate the entire menu … and felt all the better for it.
Then it’s time to hop on to the gin carriage and head eastward, to the prettiest bar-cum-distillery we ever did see: East London Liquor Company. Here you’ll get the full rundown on how gin is made and get to taste some of their home brand stuff – it’s as fresh as it gets. The next stop on the journey is at Worship Street Whistling Shop: a Shoreditch speakeasy slinging some seriously sumptuous Sipsmith sippers. And when it’s time to wrap up the night, you’ll be heading to the one and only Callooh Callay. This is a mega-bar that’s won quite a few awards in its day and is partial to a punny cocktail or two. Here things will get changed up month-to-month, with guest gins taking a starring role. We got to try a What’s up Doc made with Ford’s Gin, lemon, elderflower, ginger, carrot shrub, orange and mandarin bitters poured over prosecco. Bright orange, bubbly and brilliantly fun.
Oh and did we mention there will be prizes up for grabs throughout the night? Come prepped with your best gin knowledge OR be a social media whiz. Either way, you can leave with some nifty gifties.
Best Bars tip: Once you’ve had a taste of the Gin Journey – you’ll be all aboard for more. And lucky for you, there’s plenty more to choose from. To get the whole “Gin Experience“, join Leon for a tour of London’s gin distilleries and really sink your teeth into the technical sides of production. Or switch over to the richer sweeter side and go on a Rum Ramble – like the Gin Journey but with a LOT more rum.
Dry January … it just sounds so, well, dry. But it doesn’t have to be. We all know that maybe we hit the sauce (be it cranberry or booze) a little too hard round the Christmas/New Year period, so everyone’s been cutting back. Yet switching completely to the green shakes and kale chips isn’t so enticing anymore. We’re here to help. If you’re not avoiding drinking completely, it’s time to try one of these delicious vermouthy Martinis. Plus, you’re going to look pretty bad-ass ordering off-menu drinks. If that doesn’t put 2015 off to a good start, we don’t know what will.
An underground masterpiece, MASH is big, bold and definitely beautiful. Reminiscent of cruise ships from a more decadent era, this Soho staple is perfect for post-work tipples or massive steak dinners.
If you’re in the mood for a mysterious tipple, then head to the Bar With No Name … or as it’s better known, 69 Colebrooke Row. Courtesy of cocktail maestro Tony Conigliaro and his lab (a.k.a. the Drink Factory), this cosy hidden bar is constantly breaking ground with its innovative creations.
Drink to try: Ask for Mike’s twist on a gin classic — the Lip Stinger. Equal parts vermouth and gin, with a few dashes of orange bitters and a drop of absinthe to finish it off. Lip stinging? Yes. Tasty? Yes.
The 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.
Drink to try: Ask Lorenzo to make you his land- and sea-inspired MM Cocktail — a decadent combination of vodka, dry vermouth, two dashes of pomelo bitters, a Parmesan water and Islay scotch rinse, with an oyster leaf and vanilla caviar garnish. It might sound a little crazy, but damn it tastes good.
A classy club in the heart of Soho, Quo Vadis houses the masters of Martinis. But you know what else they do well? Everything. So if you’re in the mood for sophisticated sipping, mosey on down.
Drink to try: If the ever-smiling Simone is behind the bar, ask to try The Harmony. A Martini twist made with chinotto liqueur, Noilly Prat Original Dry vermouth and Bombay Sapphire East Dry gin — it’s balanced and dry with gentle bitter notes.
The bar pays tribute to the grandeur and opulence of the original Town Hall building, yet there is a level of restraint that keeps things just the right amount of casual. And with plenty of spots to perch around the island bar — with an extra brass counter for your drinks — this is perfect for bar-side or table-side boozing.
Drink to try: Ask bartender Ally Martin for a Martini au Marseillen — a slightly salty mix of Bombay Sapphire Dry gin, Noilly Prat Original Dry vermouth, a splash of saline solution and garnished with a caper berry.
A subterranean Tiki party spot that is always up for a wild night fuelled by rummy cocktails. The 70s basement décoris 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.
Drink to try: In true Tiki-style, the Smoki Joe Martini is all about the fire and flare — though a notably more restrained approach than some of the volcano drinks (which you should also try). We’ll leave the rest as a surprise.
If your partial to a G&T, this might soon become your new favourite haunt. Graphic Bar is host to an astounding 305 gins (to date) on its backbar – making it one of the biggest gin collectors in the UK. Taking a casual but eclectic approach, you can enjoy a tipple to the backdrop of installations by some innovative artists showcasing their signature creations.
Alongside their oh-so-wonderful Gin List you can enjoy servings of disco drinks, decadent cocktails and delicious gin-based punches served in oversized paint tins. Try the yellow tin for a lovely ensemble of Tanqueray, maraschino and pineapple — perfectly balanced with a little fresh lemon juice. Or the pink tin for a sweet combination of Bombay Sapphire, apricot liqueur, Peychaud bitters, all brought to life with Fever-Tree lemonade. For something a bit disco, opt for Chaplin’s Fruit Fest – a delicious mix of Hayman’s Sloe Gin, elderberry and quince jam, lime sherbet and prosecco. Accompany your gin session with a succulent selection of bar bites including pulled pork fritters, beef croquettes and tasty tacos.
Low ceilings make for an intimate feel where you can sit back and relax amongst great pieces of art from Turner prize winners, and is updated twice a year – so this bar never gets old. With bags of charm and atmosphere, this venue is usually buzzing with media folks for post-work drinks due to its central location on Golden Square, or a great stopover for that perfect serve G&T before heading for a night on the town.
Best Bars tip: With a world-class gin collection, don’t miss out on the Juniper Club held every other Monday for avid gin enthusiasts with tastings and tutorials led by huge brands in the business.