The 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.
Leeds’ 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.
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.
If you don’t know about it then you’d probably never know it existed, but speakeasy bar Purl has become recognised for its stylish and sophisticated atmosphere where cutting-edge cocktails transport the drinker to another world with Martinis served at -50°C and luscious libations created using food, smoke and foam.
From the people behind VOC and Worship Street Whistling Shop, it’s no surprise Purl has quickly become a hot spot for cocktail enthusiasts. These geniuses provide an all-encompassing experience by tingling your senses with aroma, fogs and liquid nitrogen to bring these drinks to life. Modern methods and obscure ingredients are used to create their unique drinks, try the amazing Negroily No. 2 — a beautiful concoction of Bombay Sapphire gin aged in a moscato barrel, Nardini Rabarbaro, Cocchi di Torino, paired with olive oil foam, asparagus and a black truffle finish. Or for those sweet-toothed drinkers, the Willy Wonka Obsession could become your new fix on a cold winter’s evening. It’s a crafty combination of amaretto and cherry-aged Gentlemen Jack, brown sugar and bitters, paired with traditional Italian hot chocolate. Try your hand at a masterclass and you could soon be a modern-day Walter White, making up foamy concoctions in their drinks laboratory.
Heading downstairs you come to a vaulted basement giving you the opportunity for seclusion in slinky booths, perfect to cosy up with a date or some intimate conversations with close friends. The music is chosen by someone with impeccable taste in jazz and blues – so you’re sure to enjoy your whole evening here, trying every obscure thing on the menu.
Best Bars tip: Book ahead for an intimate booth, or head there on a Wednesday night for live jazz.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This one’s a little out of the way, but so worth a visit. Stepping into The Shrub and Shutter feels 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.
The “drinks program” changes often, but with over 20 drinks to choose from, there are some regulars and always plenty to quench your thirst. The Brixton Buyers Club is great to start with – slightly fruity with earthy flavours coming from the sage and cardamom, but still easy-drinking. Like most drinks at this bar, it comes with a side of nibbles – here, some pineapple cubes and tiny pieces of ham. You Can’t Handle Chartreuse will blow your mind a little, and the Memento comes with a welcome theatrical touch in the form of – you guessed it – a Polaroid. It’s difficult to stop writing about the drinks, but the food helps: try the soft shell crab sandwich or gorge on a rib-eye. All ends of the food spectrum are covered.
The Shrub and Shutter wants itself to be a neighbourhood cocktail bar and despite a seriously impressive offering, manages to do just that. It’s inviting and friendly, and encourages discovery in a way that’ll probably turn a “just one drink” visit into an all-day affair. Frankly, worse could happen.
Best Bars tip: Nip to the back – there’s plenty more space for sitting with big groups, and an outdoors area for smokers and summer nights.
Clouds & Soil is fortunate to be set in a townhouse which lends itself very nicely to a whole manner of spaces over five floors, the ground floor hosts the main bar area, the basement space is perfect for functions, and the first floor boasts a well-apportioned restaurant with private dining space. The top two floors are occupied by six luxury bedrooms which complete the space.
Having had a great eggs benedict here recently for brunch we went back to sample the seasonal dinner menu, amongst the choices on offer on this occasion was a duck breast served with fondant potato, marinated in vanilla pods and garnished with roasted root veg and a bramble and thyme jus, simply divine! Drinks wise we had a glass of house red with dinner but then skipped dessert in favour of the PBJ Flip – Buffalo Trace Bourbon, raspberry liqueur, peanut butter, cream and eggs, a twisted classic cocktail which really changed the game and if it wasn’t for an early start the next day we’d have had another or two.
With dining the heart of Clouds & Soil’s offer you are hard beat to find somewhere so good in the area. Open from brunch in the bar through to lunch and dinner throughout, there is always a contented buzz around the place. Weekdays are more casual and the weekend offers a more intimate feel.
Best Bars tip: Although Clouds & Soil offers many various dining options if you have a special intimate occasion then go for private dining for up to six in the Hendrick’s Gin room.