5CC Singer Tavern

5cc old street interior 5Yet 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. 

— Sasha Filimonov, @SashaSips

5cc old street interior

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

Bank

Bank BirminghamJust off the ever-popular Brindley Place, floor-to-ceiling glass frontages and two seriously smart terraces put Bank leagues ahead of its surrounding pack.

Don your finest wares for champagne and oysters or if it is just-because bubbly you seek, try Henners’ eminently quaffable 2009 English sparkling. If cocktails are in order, we favour the classics here — Bank’s mixologists do particularly impressive Martinis and Cosmos.

The go-to spot in advance of a black-tie do, with flexible seating arrangements, Bank is equally adept at catering for client drinks, a lively date or cocktails with the girls.

Best Bars tip: Bank also does accomplished bar and restaurant food. Hire the not-altogether-private private dining room to make sure you are able to see and be seen whilst celebrating. 

– Katy Drohan, ICHOOSEBirmingham.com

Bank Birmingham

American Bar at The Savoy

American Bar at The SavoyOne of London’s most iconic bars, the American Bar at The Savoy is always ready to exceed your already high expectations. You’ll walk through the doors of the hotel and immediately be swept off your feet by friendly and attentive service, then ushered over to this art deco masterpiece. With more nooks and crannies than its sister bar, this space is perfect for tucking in to some of the best Martinis you’ll ever encounter and with just one look at those signature white blazers, you’ll know you’re in capable hands.

The bar is over 125 years old, and it is still the place for a fancy tipple. Head barman Erik Lorincz is an industry champion, so whatever drink you choose — it’s going to be damn tasty. The Savoy Cocktail Book, written by Harry Craddock in the 1930s, is something of a cocktail bible. It is still the reference point for many of the drinks on the menu and we’re partial to Harry’s own Corpse Reviver #2 — fresh, uplifting and with a bit of a kick, it is made with gin, Cointreau, Lillet Blanc, lemon and a dash of absinthe. We really love to throw back with the classics here, but feel free to experiment with the twists on the menu.

A live pianist cracking out American jazz is there seven days a week — setting an elegant tone for whenever you stop by.

Best Bars tip: When you wrap up here, head over to the Beaufort Bar for more live music or cabaret (and naturally, insanely amazing cocktails).

— Sasha Filimonov, @SashaSips

American Bar at The Savoy cocktail

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

Black Swan

Black Swan Leeds interiorThe masterminds behind Sandinista and Smokestack take on Call Lane with the elegant new opening, Black Swan. Moving away from the themed stylings of its infamous Latino and Prohibition-inspired sister bars, Black Swan is Yorkshire-bred through and through. It’s the perfect spot for laid-back drinking and despite being a 450-capacity, spacious two-floor venue — the bar maintains the intimate feel of a local pub with excellent service and incredible attention to detail.

The drinks menu not only boasts over 52 craft beers, six rotating draught ales, an on-site microbrewery and accessible two-page wine list, its cocktails also showcase the unquestionable talents of owner Si Ord’s bar team. Based on twists of classic serves, each cocktail recipe is credited to individual bartenders working for the group — from the sweet and moreish Mai Tai by Loren Holmes (Sandinista) to Niall McGloin’s (Smokestack) bitter kick Amaretto Sour. You’ll even find Mr Ord putting his own specs forward for an Espresso Martini pick-me-up. Catering for afternoon to late night boozing, you’ll find an upstairs restaurant serving up delicious, best of British cuisine — including kids menus and sharing platters — while the downstairs pizza kitchen cooks up light bites.

The bar’s exposed brick walls are decorated with varying designs — from Si’s antique suitcases and metal liquor ad signs to intricate hand-painted artwork by local artists. There are unique features wherever you look — such as the upstairs restored wood bar, array of vintage-style tables and chairs, projector beaming out old classic films and a roaring fireplace found in the Black Swan’s intimate side room. True to the venue’s heart, chilled out indie tunes play out in the day and turn into pumped up indie anthems, both old and new, as the night goes on.

Best Bars Tip: As tempting as it is to stay at the bar working your way through the drinks menu, the Pizza Kitchen cannot be missed. Its copper furnace serves up sourdough deliciousness until 10pm every night and the Yorkshire chorizo is one of our favourite Leeds’ bar bites to date.

— Mieke-Kyra Smith, @mieke_chu

Black Swan Leeds fireplace

The Vaults

The Vaults Birmingham tapas TuesdayDescend an unassuming set of stairs into the brick-clad labyrinth which is The Vaults. Choose between the subterranean chic and bouncing beats of the main bar or the seclusion of a private booth within vaulted enclaves.

For those of the sweeter disposition, try a dreamily blended Porn Star Martini. For everyone else we like the Brookers’ Negroni. And because a first class cocktail bar is not enough, there’s also a smart modern British restaurant serving up seasonally changing fare, with an emphasis on close relationships with local suppliers. We’ve heard great things about the monkfish tail.

A young, buzzy crowd and house DJ keep the bar busy until late on Fridays and Saturdays. The restaurant is equally popular come the weekend.

Best Bars tip: Get table service by pre-booking one of eight booths for a taste of stripped back luxury.

– Katy Drohan, ICHOOSEBirmingham.com

The Vaults Birmingham