Here's Our Travel Guide to This Nation of Over 7,000 Islands
1. The Blind Pig58 Poland St, Soho
2. PortSide Parlour14 Rivington St, London
3. The Cocktail Trading Co.22 Great Marlborough St, London
4. City SocialTower 42, London
5. Belair HouseGallery Rd, Dulwich, London
6. 69 Colebrooke Row69 Colebrooke Row, London
7. Ladies and Gentlemen2 Highgate Rd, London
8. Discount Suit Company29 Wentworth St, London
9. Gymkhana42 Albemarle Street, London
10. Callooh Callay65 Rivington St, London
Housed upstairs inside Jason Atherton’s Michelin-starred Social Eating House, this SoHo cocktail bar is way more than just a way station. Filled with dark wood, leather booths, and paneled ceilings, this place offers up creative cocktails, frequently with puntastic names and atypical inspirations. The entrance is a little hard to find—you'll need to locate the blindfolded pig doorknocker—but that only adds to the '20s speakeasy vibe of this little club. Signature drinks include the over-the-top Silver Screen, which is comprised of popcorn-infused Buffalo Trace bourbon, a "bespoke-a-cola" reduction, "3D" bitters, and lemon oils, served with a tiny striped bucket of popcorn pinned to the glass.
What started as a pop-up under Broadway Market has turned into a fully fledged cocktail bar on the lower stretch of Rivington Street. PortSide knows a thing or two about concocting quality cocktails, with new ones popping up all the time. With a vaguely nautical theme and a banging soundtrack, the Parlour's a place to pop in for one drink and end up staying all night (well, until midnight, when it closes). Into rum? So are they -- their collection is pretty spot-on.
Ensconced neatly underneath Soho's Central & Co., The Cocktail Trading Company, remarkably, trades in cocktails. This bar features master cocktail crafters who whip up a vast menu of tasty and unique concoctions that are part of an "ongoing experiment," meaning that if you like the look/taste of something you had, enjoy it while you can. It could be gone before you know it.
With delicious and fresh fare from Head Chef Jason Atherton, City Social provides a slick and sophisticated ambience 24 stories above the street.
If you’re up for venturing South to Dulwich, you’ll be solidly rewarded for your efforts at Belair House, which doles out a variety of beers and 'tails, including one that masquerades as a box of popcorn.
Officially called "the bar with no name,” this small-but-perfectly-formed space is helmed by Tony Conigliaro, godfather of the London cocktail scene, who’s decked it out with a classic ‘50s-Italian-Riviera feel. The drinks themselves all feel timeless, yet there’s plenty of science going into their creation, with ingredients and methods developed in a lab by Broadway Market, including the Manhattan Steel Corp., a Manhattan twist with "Dry Essence."
Owned and operated by William Borrell, the producer of craft spirit Vestal Vodka, Ladies and Gentlemen is Kentish Town’s answer to artisanal cocktails. There’s a big focus on neighborhood pride here: everything is locally sourced, from the honey and fruit respectively used for syrups and garnishes to the Highwayman Gin that they make daily in an on-site, 16-litre copper vat. If the elegant presentation of each drink isn’t already enough for you, consider this: this sleek, bright space used to be a public bathroom in the Victorian era.
When a bar/speakeasy has a name this awesome and an atmosphere to fit it (enter through the dodgy-looking side door into a low-ceilinged, exposed-brickwork, raw-light-bulbed den) there's no reason not to go. But if you need more convincing, simply go and try some of their signature cocktails yourself. You wont' regret it. Try out the “Juan For The Road,” which is made up of mezcal, Cocchi Americano, Suze, citric acid, and grapefruit bitters.
Gymkhana is a cozy, Michelin-starred Indian restaurant in Mayfair. This spot, carefully decorated to evoke the era of British Raj, offers a seasonal, game-heavy menu.
Craft cocktails and whimsy reign supreme at this award-winning Shoreditch spot. It’s like stepping into the Narnia of nightlife -- guests literally enter through an old Victorian wardrobe -- into a world of mixology-driven drinks like the Pyropia, which features Nori-infused El Jimador tequila, green apple sherbet, lime, and agave. Between the cassette tapes decked along the walls (get it?) to the slick, black leather furniture, the vibe is decidedly trendy. While the mid-century lounge in the back may be secret, the bar itself isn’t: plenty of Londoners come here to party on the weekends, so consider making a reservation.