Down South has gone north, with the latest outpost of Joe’s Southern Kitchen opening in Kentish Town – fully kitted out with all its signature trimmings, nibbles and tipples.
Head downstairs to Jailbird for the basement bar experience, and don’t worry, they won’t lock you in (plus the food is a million notches above prison swill). Notable faves on the menu include the mac and cheese, the crispy chips and saucy wings. This is messy business, so keep plenty of serviettes to hand and maybe leave the white shirt at home.
To drink, there’s a lot of bourbon and American whiskey on the menu, unsurprisingly, so we say stick to the theme. If you’re in the mood for something stirred down and brown then order The Assasin with Rittenhouse Rye, Chambord, Noilly Prat and Campari served up with a lemon peel. And for £12, you can have this drink plus six fried wings. *We lurve a good deal … particularly the £5 signature cocktails that are ALWAYS a fiver. Sorted.
Best Bars tip: Book yourself one of the booths, and settle in for a one-stop shop kind of night.
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?
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 bar is now closed, but keep an eye out … they may be cropping up at another locale soon.*
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: Bobby Hiddleston of New York’s Dead Rabbit, Durham Atkinson of Hops & Glory, Mia Johansson of Milk & Honey and Barbarossa Inan of Hawksmoor. Are these capable hands? Why yes they are.
Whatever your tipple of choice, it will be perfectly executed and utterly delicious. Classics are bang on, and so are all their twists. For a fresh and zesty choice, order the Rolling Tackle made with rosemary tequila, Aperol, carrot and mandarin sherbet. Or for a sweeter, fuller drink then try the Foo Foo Band Night with peanut butter rum, lime and banana. Yummers. For the beer drinkers, there are enough hand-picked choices to keep you happy. And for a bit of both, get a “mini” cocktail chased by a bottle of beer (for less than a tenner). One of our favourites is The Admiral, a crazy twist on the Julep, with rye, cacao, falernum, absinthe and mint.
The exposed brick walls and wood beams instantly create a cosy inviting atmosphere — the kind of place you’d be happy to prop up at the bar any time of the week. Hospitality is king here and the staff are immensely friendly and welcoming, so we reckon your best bet is to grab a couple of stools at the bar and get chatting away to these lovely folks. Or if you want a place to catch up with mates, then this is a perfect choice.
Best Bars tip: We have a sneaky suspicion that this will quickly rise to the top of your favourite bars list. Get in.
“Another day, another American joint”, you sigh. Well, you’re wrong. This Mississippi-sprung restaurant is the real deal. Combining the heart of the deep south with the refinement of the Marylebone drinking and dining scene, US chef Brad Macdonald, and his charming team, work hard to showcase the best of stateside hospitality at The Lockhart.
Spread over two floors, the upstairs restaurant follows the format of bare brick walls, hanging lightbulbs and antique furniture. Downstairs, copper stools line the bourbon and Mescal-heavy bar. The wine list is a rundown of some of America’s best, not only in taste but in name too (wandering bear, velvet devil and boom boom!, to name a few). It’s the cocktails here that really fly the flag, though. Our favourites? The Louisiana Jam with bourbon, apricot jam and lemon is seriously good, and it would be rude not to order a Manhattan, considering the bourbon on show. And all averaging at around £9.50 — yep, probably a good idea to make use of those stools.
Now, don’t get us wrong: the drinks alone merit a trip to The Lockhart. But it would be a crime not to try the food here. The southern USA classics such as fried chicken, Jacob’s ladder short ribs and shrimps and grits are incredible. Not to mention the cornbread which is cooked to order and, we reckon, the best in town.
What makes The Lockhart stand apart from most of the other American joints that London has to offer is its authenticity. There aren’t any gimmicks but it isn’t pretentious either. It’s just honest, seriously good fare from our friends across the pond.
Best Bars tip: Set yourself up for a good week by going for its Sunday Night Game Time, where from 6pm until 10pm, you can enjoy drinks with a choice of food from both the lunch and dinner menu. Our pick? The indulgent muffaletta sandwich. Go on, treat yourself.
Birmingham is harbouring a deliciously stylish password-only pop-up, The Site Office, in which exposed brickwork, candlelit cubby holes and Chesterfields are de rigueur.
With a spirit offering befitting of its industry-insider crowd, if you can get it, try the Black Cow — that’s vodka made from Cornish cows’ milk to you and me. Another Site Office must-try is sherry cask-aged dark rum in the form of the inimitable Dos Maderas, hidden in the defilade of a woodwork project, posing as a bar.
With guest DJs that will keep you vertical until past bedtime, make your arrival no earlier than 10pm and enthusiastically wave goodbye to that last train home.
Best Bars tip: Follow, like and generally stalk The Site Office on Facebook to find out about future events. Or if you are impatient like us, hire the whole thing and throw yourself a humdinger of a private party.
The meat trend is showing no signs of slowing down in London, but the chaps at MEATliquor were early into the game. And their Hoxton outpost MEATmission is as beefy and buzzy as ever.
Order the House Grog for a rummy surprise or get their take on the Boilermaker – the Widowmaker – a shot of Sazerac with a Hobo beer. Food comes out on plastic trays and isn’t about elegant presentation, this is about meaty eats. Get some fried pickles and a burger of your choice (hard to go wrong here). But we reckon if there’s bacon and cheese involved, it’s a beautiful thing.
Don’t be surprised if you feel like you’re on a bit of a trip when you walk in, the stained glass ceiling and neon red lights create a pseudo-religious atmosphere (gone off the rails). With the DJ spinning tunes and long sharing tables, this isn’t one for an intimate catch up but rather for those nights when you want to get a bit greasy and a bit boozy — and it’s all a lot of fun.
Best Bars tip: We know it’s all about the beef here, but if you don’t get the bingo wings – then you’re missing out. Just be sure to have some paper towels on hand.