In the wake of London Cocktail Week, it seems only natural that it’s time for another post about some of the fantastic watering holes available to us here in the Capital. Since my first drinks post back in December, my drinking hasn’t been quite as frequent as it was last year (firstly because the student loan has dried up, and secondly because I’m twenty-four now and the hangovers have become so much more intense) but I still know the places to go when it comes to finding yourself a quality cocktail or a refreshing gin and tonic.
Artesian, Regent Street
Lets start with what has just been voted for the second year in a row as the best bar in the world. Found in the Langham Hotel at the top of Regent Street, this bar serves cocktails, champagne and fine spirits to all who want to experience for themselves world class bar tending, mixology and service. You might need to take out a small mortgage if you are expected to get a round in though, as cocktails will set you back £16.50 each. We went for a cocktail from the Butterfly Wheel, where cocktails are listed on a flavour wheel that is colour-coded according to the descriptive style and flavours of each cocktail rather than simply a list of ingredients. Our choice was sweet and delicious, don’t get me wrong, but we found we were paying a premium for the flakes of gold leaf that were placed in our glasses, which obviously added nothing to the taste as it disappeared as soon as it touched our tongues, but it sure did look pretty! More than anything, It’s worth going to this bar just to say you’ve been to the best bar in the world, but in my opinion, it would be better if it were affordable!
The Jam Tree, Kings Road
This was my birthday destination this year. Recommended by many of my friends, this venue is full of beautiful Chelsea types, has a wonderful outdoor area that is open all year round (plenty of patio heaters and umbrellas to make it usable in the winter months) and is known for it’s Sunday Roasts, the Jamaican BBQ’s and the interesting collection of jam inspired cocktails. Before 7:30pm every night it’s happy hour, which we wholeheartedly took advantage of, with three rounds of their signature Jam Mojito, which was sweet and strong – how I like them! Many of their cocktails don’t contain jam however, so don’t worry if that’s not appealing to you, but if you fancy trying a shot with a difference, then you absolutely must get one of their jam shots that come served in those little mini jam jars you get with your continental breakfast in a hotel! They’re pricey at £4.50 each but they are delicious, and instead of pulling that classic slightly pained post-shot face that everyone pulls, you’ll actually find yourself licking your lips and putting together the money for another one!
Smollenskys, The Strand
This is a ‘girls night out’ favourite of mine, but theres nothing stopping this from being a great place to go with the boys too. Under The Strand this restaurant has a great bar with an extensive cocktail menu. Happy hour is great, with selected drinks available 2-4-1, and others only priced at £4.50! The Triple Berry Collins and the June Bug cocktails are my favourites, as both are fresh and sweet, but you also can’t go far wrong with a Cucumber Refresher – all priced at £8.50. This place has a constant great vibe, and the bar staff are all rather lovely too, and happy to recommend a cocktail if you’re finding it difficult to decide. This is a great bar to start your night with (thanks to the early happy hour) and it’s also not too rowdy, so you can actually achieve a civilised conversation (if you’re into that sort of thing)
The American Bar @ The Stafford Hotel, St James
This might just be the most expensive pub in London, or maybe even the country, but I don’t know if there is a pub with better service, or better bar snacks! A round of five drinks (mainly G&Ts) has in the past set us back just under £100, but this is the best place to come on a warm afternoon, as tables are positioned outside in the sun filled court yard, which is decorated wonderfully with fresh flowers that hang from the balconies of a converted stables that are now hotel rooms. On our first visit we opted for refreshing glass of Pimms topped with fresh fruit. There was nothing better suited to our sunny afternoon, but each glass did set us back £15 each – although I think subconsciously I think this made them taste even better and more refreshing! These were, of course, accompanied by some small bowls of vegetable crisps, nuts and fresh olives, and some polite conversation from the lovely french waiter.
The London Gin Club (The Star At Night), Great Chapel Street
As London is the home of Gin, it only makes sense that there be a bar, and by extension a club, dedicated to this Juniper and botanical infused spirit. The LGC lives in Soho and hosts over 70 of the best gins that money can buy. They pride themselves in offering a fantastic gin cocktail menu, but more so on the fact that they offer what they believe to be the best G&T in London – and I wouldn’t say they’re too far wrong! They believe the secret to the perfect gin and tonic lies in every aspect of the drink… the gin, the tonic, the ice, the garnish, even the glass. And so, I opted for a G&T made with a favourite of mine, Gin Mare, which was topped with FeverTree tonic and garnished with miniature tomatoes and rosemary, served within a large glass, much like a small fishbowl. This large glass cost me just £7.50, making this one of the best value G&T’s I have ever had the pleasure of drinking.