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.
— Sasha Filimonov, @SashaSips
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.
–Gaëlle Laforest, @gaellelaforest
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?
— Martin Duffy, @DuffyDrinks
Just 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
In the heart of Mermaid Quay, right on the waterfront stands Terra Nova, one of Brains Brewery’s more contemporary pubs.
Although pouring the same ales and craft beers as its siblings, Terra Nova offers a modern twist of traditional pub grub. Alongside favourites such as fish and chips, pies and steaks, you’ll find a selection of family pleasers such as American style pancakes, sourdough bacon baps and pulled pork nachos, all very reasonably priced.
Less busy than Mermaid Quay’s other eateries, but just as good, it’s a great pit stop while on a shopping spree in the Bay.
Best Bars tip: Buy a Bragging Rights beer for a true taste of Cardiff as it’s brewed to resemble the ancient Welsh beer “bragawd”.
— Jordan Harris
So you may have heard some chatter around the Hoxton bar that is White Lyan — well everything they say is true … and then some. This is one seriously talented team and they’ve brought their magic touch to the latest 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.
The menu is divided up into sections: cereal, vegetal, mineral and floral. But if that’s not enough of a guide for you, fear not, each drink lists tasting notes as well as a suggested time of day for consumption. So if you’re not familiar with botanical beer “vermouth” and don’t know how concrete would taste … just work off of their suggestions and you’ll be happily satiated. To start, we highly recommend the Koji Hardshake made with Mr Lyan scotch, Dewar’s 12, lemon, koji and cream sugar, liquorice bitters and served with a roasted marshmallow (nostalgia defined). While it may look heavy and creamy, it’s surprisingly fresh and not too sweet — good for any time of day. If you’re coming along after dinner, try the Concrete Sazerac made with concrete-filtered cognac, fermented Peychaud and absinthe. Served with a pistachio crackling and chocolate stones, you’ll be amazed at the depth and newness of flavour you’ll experience from the concrete filtration. If you’re not dining at Sea Containers but are feeling peckish, there’s a tasty, straightforward menu in the bar. Think Neal’s Yard cheese boards and crispy cod cheeks.
This is an utterly modern hotel bar that forgoes the prim and proper mannerisms of its classic London brethren. Staff wear grey t-shirts and hunter green aprons, tattoos are aplenty, but as expected — service is with a big smile.
Best Bars tip: The team is also responsible for the rooftop bar, so you can expect the same high quality drinks with an even more stonking view.
— Sasha Filimonov, @SashaSips
South Bank’s iconic OXO Tower offers cocktails to suit the stunning Thames-side views.
The champagne certainly flows – the bar serving its very own brand of Brut – and of course there are classic cocktails. Try originals though, like the bitter and uplifting Southbank Cocktail with pink grapefruit vodka, ruby grapefruit juice and Beefeater Gin. Even non-alcoholic offerings are inventive, like the After Hours Cosmo – replacing vodka and Cointreau with fruit tea, Siberian ginseng and orange flower water. A crowd-pleasing modern European menu dazzles in the restaurant and experienced sommeliers will happily find a wine to go with each and every course.
Don’t be surprised to see client-wooing and business meetings alongside family celebrations and marriage proposals – the OXO Tower has earned its status as a special occasion destination, and for very good reason.
Best Bars tip: Be sure to book a table in the bar for that aperitif if you’re visiting for the views.
— Laura Richards, @Lala_Richards