The Park View

The Park view brighton interiorA huge outdoor seating area makes suburban Brighton pub, The Park View, a great place for post-park drinks and long summer Sundays.

Beer is well-kept with a strong roster of lagers, often including Budvar and Brooklyn lager. Local ales populate the hand pumps and the spirits selection goes way beyond the usual pub suspects. Pub food is slightly above average with dishes like salt and pepper squid and proper sausage and mash setting the tone.

Set back from the main drag between London and Brighton, The Park View tends to attract a local crowd, from 20-somethings who don’t want to head into town to families and the post-work crowd on their way home from nearby Preston Park station.

Best Bars tip: If you’re looking for a party venue, try downstairs; it’s a fair size and it comes with a separate entrance.

— Lucy Britner, @Britner

the park view brighton beer garden

L’Escargot

L'Escargot

L’Escargot: a Soho institution that exudes French flavours and old-world panache. For one of the most classic (and classy) dinners in town, book yourself into the restaurant. But if you want a members’ club experience that’s intimate, quirky and high brow – then get yourself upstairs. With a few fresh licks of paint and an insane art collection, this 280-year-old townhouse is perfect for sophisticated yet laid-back, grown-up sipping.

Coco Chanel used to imbibe here, so we say go for classic cocktails and head to the Salon Grande Siècle for a big, bright experience. We’re particularly fond of the bubbly French 75 made with gin, champagne and a whack of lemon for a zesty kick.

If you’re hungry, then tuck into staple fare such as lobster salad or a steak sandwich (done well). And if you’re here, then you know you best be ordering some snails. It’s a sin if you don’t.

Best Bars tip: This labrinthine space is perfect for private parties – no matter the size. Either get your closest pals together for debaucherous drinks in one of the small lounging rooms or throw a massively lavish dinner party for your fanciest friends in the Bureau.

— Sasha Filimonov, @SashaSips

L'Escargot Soho

West Thirty Six

West Thirty Six Notting HillA beautifully renovated Victorian house with wood-board ceilings, an open kitchen, cosy booths and trendy staff. West Thirty Six is a townhouse of treasures, with secret dining rooms, open fires, smoking terraces and private party spaces. It feels like a members’ club, but it’s open to everyone. Nip by any time of day and hang out in the sunny ground floor bar – either nab a seat overlooking the open kitchen or park up in one of the leather banquettes.

If you’re coming for dinner, head to the first floor dining room – it’s seriously dark and seriously sexy. The menu is a mash-up of American and British cuisine, so come hungry. We had the scallops, steak, crab trifle, beef tartare and finished it off with a luxurious deconstructed banoffee pie. It was all hearty and delicious (and our waistlines were not the better for it). But who can resist a perfect seared steak and dishes full of ultra smoky and unctuous flavours. Since we love a good drink, naturally we had to have a few Manhattans – and you should too.

The crowd here is west London hip, with big groups of young guys and gals sharing big plates and bottles of bubbly then heading out to one of the FOUR alfresco areas for a smoke. Yes, four. In the summer, you’ll be spoiled for choice when it comes to alfresco drinking.

Best Bars tip: Looking for a private party space? The top floor is where it’s at. Hire it out and it’ll be like the best house party you’ve ever been to (with DJs and drinks supplied).

— Sasha Filimonov, @SashaSips

West Thirty Six dining room

Rumpus Room

Rumpus Room Mondrian LondonThe 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.

–Gaëlle Laforest, @gaellelaforest

Rumpus Room Mondrian London

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

Gin Journey

Gin Journey East London LIquor CompanyIf 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.

Gin Journey Leon

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.

Gin Journey Perkin Reveller

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.

— Sasha Filimonov, @SashaSips

gin journey worship street whistling shop

The Cocktail Trading Company

The Cocktail Trading Company garnishThe 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, where you can go have a few relaxed cocktails from some of the industry’s most talented bartenders. The three chaps who birthed this venture cut their teeth at the best bars going, so if you’re keen for a cocktail masterclass — these are the most capable hands around.

We say you should dutifully work your way through the drinks menu — chatting with your all-too-friendly server for recommendations. One of our favourites is The Scout’s Honour with 86 Co. tequila, lime juice, smoked marshmallow syrup, toasted marshmallows and a garnish that’s served in a tin (we’ll leave what’s inside as a surprise). And if that doesn’t satiate your sweet tooth, get the Tu-Whit-Tu-Whoo-Woo, a twist on a noughties classic that’s made with Stoli vodka, sage, peach and cranberry syrup then topped with prosecco and garnished with candy floss. Pure glee. If you’re keen for more savoury sips, try the Welcome to Kentucky, Have a Nice Day. Served in a takeaway container and topped with crispy bacon-flavoured egg noodles (seriously), this is a Jim Beam number with ginger, plum, yuzu and matcha tea. It’s absolutely scrumptious. And if the foodie garnishes haven’t filled you up, you can order sharing plates from the upstairs bar. Go healthy with a raw veg platter or treat yourself with some sticky squid.

The lighting is pretty remarkable here, and they can adjust it per table — depending on how your night is going. By the end of our evening, disco lights and throwback tunes were the name of the game.

Best Bars tip: Try to book ahead, since there’s only so many tables. And make sure to keep your night clear, because we reckon you’ll be hanging round until closing time … we sure did.

— Sasha Filimonov, @SashaSips

The Cocktail Trading Company interior