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

Joyeux Bordel

Joyeux Bordel Shoreditch
© Addie Chinn

For the non francophones out there, “Joyeux Bordel” roughly translates as jolly mess – but while there might be potential for a messy night, walking through the hidden entrance (this is Shoreditch, after all) and down the stairs to the bar gives off more of a sophisticated vibe, with just a little plenty-of-dark-corners kind of edge.

The latest born of the Experimental Cocktail Club, it’s got a drinks menu with the expected flair, and a reasonable amount of French influence – old aperitifs, dusty bottles with continental names and all the Suze and Lillet you’d ever want. Go for the bar’s signature drink – the Jolly Mess – which uses rye spirit, pear eau de vie, vermouth, cardamom syrup and chocolate liqueur. Sounds moreish and decadent but is surprisingly balanced, with a nice bitter chocolate aftertaste.

One thing you might not expect at first is that Joyeux Bordel is a music lover’s paradise – a nice touch when you know the space used to be legendary club Plastic People until it closed early this year. The sound system is one of the best in Europe, with speakers and amps legendary in a way that we didn’t manage to understand, so expect a refined line-up of DJs with The Clove Club’s Daniel Willis at the helm.

Best Bars tip: If you’re fond of antique bottles and glasses, and fancy sipping on something really special that no one quite knows the history of, Joyeux Bordel has a collection of antique spirits that they might just let the regulars try.

— Gaëlle Laforest, @gaellelaforest

Joyeux Bordel Shoreditch
© Addie Chinn

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

The Bridge

The Bridge Shoreditch

Just under the bridge that marks the end of Shoreditch High Street and the beginning of Kingsland Road sits, you guessed it, The Bridge. From the outside, the dark facade and gloomy entrance give the impression of a place that time forgot, but head inside and you’ll be talking about this treasure trove until the cows come home.

Boxing gloves, a vintage Coca Cola fridge full of beers and an old fashioned till are only a few of the mismatched memorabilia that make this coffee house/bar so enchanting. A small television above the bar even shows black and white boxing matches throughout the day and night – we hear the owner’s a huge fan and we challenge you not to be after an hour in this place.

It’s what’s upstairs that makes this treasure trove so special, though. Fringed and art deco lamps light the throne-like armchairs and sofas that festoon this space. Got a penchant for velvet? You’re in luck – the windows and ceiling are draped with the stuff, making it the perfect getaway for afternoon tea drinking or early evening beers. Cake lovers will be happy to hear that the downstairs display fridge is chock full of french cakes and fancies, while savoury pastries keep those with a savoury tooth sweet.
Best Bars tip: Get there early on a Friday night and enjoy the opulence of the upstairs parlour before you embark on an inevitable evening of drinking on foot on the east London scene below.
— Millie Milliken, @milliemilliken
The Bridge Shoreditch upstairs

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

London Beer Week 2015 Guide

London beer week high resIt has begun: London Beer Week is officially on so you better HOP into the festivities (sorry, we couldn’t resist). To make things easier, we’ve rounded up the BEST activities and bars so you don’t miss one frothy bit. From 16-22 February, you will have a huge array of tastings, tours and tipples around Londontown to keep you busy (and all you need to do is get a £10 wristband).

MONDAY

London beer week barrel aged ihlBarrel Aged IHL Launch Party

For one night only, you’ll discover a brand new beer that’s be aged for six months in one tequila and six bourbon barrels. Plus you’ll get to check out the all-too-lovely The Kings Arms in Bethnal Green.
Free, 6pm, The Kings Arms Pub, 11A Buckfast Street, Bethnal Green, E2 6EY.

TUESDAY

London beer week brewhouse islington

The Big Flavour Beer Dinner

Enjoy a tasting with head brewer Pete Hughes of original house-brewed Brewhouse & Kitchen beers plus adventurous international guest beers from the experts at Boutique Bar Brands. They will be matched with chef’s seven-course taster dinner.
£25, 7.30pm, Brewhouse and Kitchen Islington, Torrens Street, EC1V 1NQ.

WEDNESDAY

London beer week crate brewery

Meet The Brewer with CRATE Brewery

Whether you’re an experienced home brewer or simply an enthusiastic craft beer drinker you’ll love the in-depth knowledge and comedy stylings of CRATE brewers Calum Bennet and Mark Peather at this special event. CRATE will also be taking over the taps at the Windsor Castle with their wide range of cask and kegged beers for your pleasure. And if you’ve never been to CRATE, you better believe you’ll want to go now.
Free, 7pm, The Windsor Castle, 135 Lower Clapton Road, E5 8EQ.

THURSDAY

london beer week the hops and glory

Brewery Launch at The Hops & Glory

One of the best pubs London has to offer has decided to launch its very own ON-SITE brewery. You’ll get to taste the beginning of their upcoming range of beers ranging from crisp, clean Pale Ales to Belgian Tripels.
Free, 8pm, The Hops & Glory, 382 Essex Road, Islington.

FRIDAY

London beer week beekeeper#BeeFactFriday Meet The Beekeeper and Hiver Tasting

Beers + bees = one hell of a buzz. Hiver Beers Founder, Hannah Rhodes, will be introducing Barnaby Shaw of Bee Urban London, who will offer an insight into the life of urban beekeeping and answering any questions you might have. There’ll be bee suits to try on, honeys to sample, a beehive to peer into and of course samples of award-winning Hiver for LBW wristband holders to enjoy.
Free, 7.30pm, Translate, 12-14 Kingsland Road, E2 8DA.

SATURDAY & SUNDAY

london beer week craft beer rising

Craft Beer Rising

Now this list wouldn’t be complete if we didn’t include Craft Beer Rising. 70 breweries, 450 different beers, and an onslaught of adventurous innovations and bold new flavours. Expect more craft beer than you could ever imagine (duh), lots of smoky street food, and a party pumping with DJs spinning tunes all weekend long.
Tickets £18.70-£22. Old Truman Brewery, 91 Brick Lane, E1 6QL.

BEST BEER WEEK BARS

The Sun Tavern London Beer Week

The Sun Tavern

go and check out one of our favourite east London haunts and sip down on Camden Town Brewery’s Pale Ale for £3 … until its gone. Or have a boilermaker and try poitin (it’s like Irish moonshine) with half a beer for just a fiver.

big easy covent gardenBig Easy Covent Garden

Big, bold and beautiful — this Americana-styled hot spot has won the hearts of Covent Garden dwellers with its saucy ribs and frosty beers. Come by for £3 Meantime Brewery Fresh London Lager.

The Blues Kitchen ShoreditchThe Blues Kitchen — Shoreditch

A temple to the coolest B’s in the book: blues, BBQ and booze. Drop in for a taste of Innis and Gunn Original. And if we were you, we’d DEFINITELY upgrade to the £5 Woodford Reserve boilermaker.

Hawksmoor Spitalfields Bar Hawksmoor Spitalfields

An underground haven for all things meat and booze. This is a sophisticated Spitalfields spot that’s just the right amount of trendy — with bang on burgers and BBQ too. Order yourself a bottle of Hibernation White IPA to go with those meaty eats.

Oskar's Bar in Dabbous interiorOskar’s Bar in Dabbous

A cocktail master, Oskar knows how to churn out some of the tastiest hoptails in town. Keep it simple and order the Pale Ale OR upgrade to The Drink With No Name, made with Woodford Reserve bourbon, greengage, ginger ale, lemon and Einstök pale ale.

The Cocktail Trading Company interior

 

The 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, and you need to swing by for their hoptail Boiler Baker (only a bang for your buck fiver!).

— Sasha Filimonov, @SashaSips

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