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Best new London bars

While many may dispute it, London has undeniably leapfrogged New York to become the cocktail capital of the world.

The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test cocktail at Bump Caves

With trailblazers like Matt Whiley of Peg + Patriot in Bethnal Green serving crazy savoury concoctions like Marmite Martinis and Salt Beef Sazeracs and the bountifully bearded Rich Woods devising Olive Oil Gin Fizzes and Truffled Liquorice Whisky Sours at new Bellini bar Cartizze in Mayfair, the capital’s bartenders aren’t afraid of taking risks, and they appear to be paying off.

In the last few months alone, a slew of exciting new bars have popped up across the city, signalling the start of a few new trends with them.

The innovative Pudding Bar on Greek Street in Soho serves desserts and accompanying wines, which will be joined by Basement Sate on Broadwick Street in September, with Maze’s former pastry chef creating desserts to pair with cocktails.

Elsewhere, there’s a bar experimenting with barrel ageing, one specialising in avant-garde Californian wine and another that’s recently opened on the site of a 100-year-old toilet in Clapham.

Though perhaps the most outrageous of this line up is Bump Caves. Inspired by Tom Wolfe’s 1968 psychedelic non-fiction book The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, the signature sip of the same name is served with a nine-volt battery designed to be licked and a bag of white powder clipped to the glass filled with a citric acid mixture that can be added to the drink as “seasoning”. Drink it if you dare…

Silk and Grain

Taking an innovative approach to cocktail ageing, Silk & Grain in the City of London shines a light on different ageing methods, from glass, metal and leather to barrel ageing. Among the signature sips are barrel-aged Manhattans, Moscow Mules and Negronis, a leather conditioned Penicillin, which blends leather aged Dalwhinnie 15 year old single malt with ginger, honey and lemon juice, a bottle conditioned Cosmopolitan and an oak aged beer.

A restaurant on the first floor serves a selection of dry-aged steaks cooked on a Josper grill alongside the likes of lemon sole with garlic and caper butter, Suffolk cider soaked slow roasted pork belly, black pudding Scotch eggs and crispy pig’s ears. Form an orderly queue…

Who to know: head bartender Rad Anuskievec

What to order: keep it classic with a barrel-aged Manhattan

Silk and Grain33 Cornhill, London EC3V 3ND; Tel: +44 (0)20 7929 1378

The Pudding Bar

Sweet-toothed Londoners will be delighted to hear that a bar serving nothing but desserts and matching wines has popped up at number 26 Greek Street in Soho. Due to stay open until at least October, the Pudding Bar serves the likes of Eton Moss, Earl Grey Panna Cotta, Lemon Parfait and S’more Cheesecake alongside late harvest Tokaji, 2010 Sauternes, Vin Santo from Chianti Ruffina and Pedro Ximénez from a Solera dating back to 1927.

The brainchild of Emily Dickinson, Pete Cawston and Oliver Whitford-Knight, the site serves cakes and coffee during the day, turning into a dessert and wine bar at night. Behind the scenes providing the flour power is master baker and ex-Gordon Ramsey chef Laura Hallwood.

Who to know: co-owner Oliver Whitford-Knight

What to order: the Early Grey Panna Cotta and a glass of Maury Grenat 2010

The Pudding Bar, 26 Greek Street, London, W1D 5DE; Tel: +44 (0)020 3620 4747

Mark’s Bar at Hixter Bankside 

The newest addition in the Hix stable – Hixter Bankside – has opened its doors a stone’s throw from the db offices. Located in an old metal box factory south of Borough market, with a 100-seater restaurant on ground level, it’s Hix’s most gargantuan site. Downstairs you’ll find Mark’s bar, kitted out with leather swivel bar stools, a sunken bar, London Underground paraphernalia, artworks by Tracey Emin and and a massage chair.

Serving seasonal cocktails until 1.30am and championing British drinks producers, among the signature sips are the Just in Thyme, which blends Tanqueray with thyme-infused Hix IPA, honey water, lemon and egg white; the Strawberry Blonde, featuring ginger-infused Black Cow vodka, fraise liqueur, strawberry purée, lemon and sugar; and the Ryesberry Ripper, featuring Bulleit Rye, raspberry syrup, Martini Rosso, chocolate bitters and lime juice. If you’re feeling peckish, you can nibble on chips with curry sauce, chicken popcorn and salt ‘n’ vinegar onion rings.

Who to know: group bar manager Myles Davies

What to order: a Red Snapper before midday, an Espresso Martini after midnight

Mark’s Bar at Hixter Bankside, Wigglesworth House, Fourth Floor, 69 Southwark Bridge Road, London, SE1 9HH, UK; Tel: +44 (0)20 7921 9508

Peg + Patriot 

The brainchild of Matt Whiley, aka Talented Mr Fox, Peg + Patriot recently opened at the Town Hall Hotel in Bethnal Green on the former site of the Viajante bar. Christened Peg + Patriot in honour of its setting in Patriot Square and the old English word for a shot of liquor, libations range from the playful to the downright outrageous, from a Marmite Martini to a Salt Beef Sazerac made with bagels from a nearby shop in Hackney served with a mustard sachet pegged to the side of the glass filled with a black mustard leaf distillate guests can add to the cocktail like they would bitters.

The Pho Money Pho Problems meanwhile is a bonkers take on a classic Vietnamese beef soup dish inspired by the South East Asian restaurants populating neighbouring Kingsland Road, while the Rice Rice Baby blends rice ice cream liqueur and sparkling wine. Be prepared to be mind blown. To compliment the quirky cocktails, bar snacks devised by Lee Westcott of the Typing Room down the hall are equally playful, and include gourmet chicken drumsticks, crispy cod skins and Ibérico pork and foie gras sliders. Bills are presented on pegs, natch.

Who to know: cocktail creator Matt Whiley

What to order: Rye Your Eyes Mate

Peg + Patriot, Patriot Square, London E2 9NF; Tel +44 (0) 20 8709 4528

The Club Room at Bob Bob Ricard 

Soho institution Bob Bob Ricard has undergone a megabucks makeover that has seen its downstairs bar transformed into a decadent, evening only dining space. The 74-seater Club Room promises “lively dining, music and Champagne”, while the full restaurant menu, including the likes of venison steak tartare and three cheese soufflé will be available to order.

Staying faithful to David Collins’ original design, the space’s luxury booths are centred around a small atrium with a mahogany-inlaid backgammon dance floor, red-and-gold leather banquettes, burgundy marble tables and copper metalwork. As one would hope, each booth features the famous “Press for Champagne” button, which has proved so successful at the restaurant upstairs, half of Bob Bob Ricard’s wine sales are Champagne. “We want to offer the sophistication of dining clubs like Annabel’s without the need for membership,” says owner Leonid Shutov.

Who to know: owner Leonid Shutov

What to order: Champagne of course

The Club Room1 Upper James St, London W1F 9DF; Tel: +44 (0)20 3145 1000

Bump Caves

Allegedly inspired by white suit wearing author Tom Wolfe’s 1968 psychedelic non-fiction book The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, newbie bar Bump Caves recently opened beneath The Draft House in Tower Bridge. The creation of hirsute drinks wizard Max Charter and Draft House owner Charlie McVeigh, downstairs in the dive bar, complete with neon lights and psychedelic wallpaper, is a cage full of lab equipment, meaning guests can order their own bespoke spirits.

The bar specialises in beer and “bumps” – craft beers are served alongside drams of infused spirits whose flavours are designed to harmonise with the brew, such as Danish Pilsner Mikkeller American Dream with grass-infused gin. The Schiz-a-Colada meanwhile, mixes crème anglaise, distilled fresh pineapple and two different rums, and comes with its own coconut flavour vapour cigarette.

Who to know: founder Max Charter

What to order: signature sip The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, served with a nine-volt battery designed to be licked and a bag of white powder clipped to the glass filled with a citric acid mixture that can be added to the drink as “seasoning”.

Bump Caves, 206-208 Tower Bridge Road London SE1 2UP

WC Wine & Charcuterie 

While not the most appealing sounding venue for a bar, you’ve got to hand it to Clapham residents Andy Bell and Jayke Mangion, who came up with the cunning plan of converting a 100-year-old former public toilet into a swish wine bar. Housed below Clapham Common tube station, the 40-seater WC Wine & Charcuterie boasts a trio of booths and seating for 40 in an outdoor courtyard.

Bell and Mangion worked for over two years converting the water closet, which served as a squat for a number of years, into a drinking den. A number of the original features such as the mosaic floor and tube tiling have been kept with the old attendance office forming the framework of the bar. Love letters found behind the partition walls during the restoration are on display in the bar’s own toilets, which include two original Royal Doulton urinals.

WC serves 12 red and 12 white wines by the glass and half bottle via a rotating list of small producers, with rosé and sparkling wine also included in the line up. A selection of cocktails are also available by the glass and carafe, while cut to order charcuterie, seven cheeses and a terrine of the day all on sale.

Who to know: owners Andy Bell and Jayke Mangion

What to order: Brixton Brewery Electric IPA and a packet of WC branded pork scratchings

WC Wine & Charcuterie, Clapham Common South Side, London, SW4 7AJ; Tel: +44 (0)20 7622 5502


Taking over the old Cricketers pub in Clapton is new Danish-themed wine bar Verden. The brainchild of Scott’s former maître d’, Ed Wyand, and business partner Tom Bell, Verden specialises in “eclectic and accessible” wines by the glass from small independent producers like Sherry makers Equipo Navazos, Chilean renegade the Garage Wine Co and “new” California pioneers Sandhi.

In addition, the 60-seater bar serves a selection of charcuterie, including pata negra jamón, lardo layered with rosemary and salami with Kent cobnuts alongside cheese platters featuring the likes of Comté, Stilton and Wigmore, all of which are available to buy to take home from the deli downstairs. Beer meanwhile, hails from local London brewers along with a cherry picked range of craft beers from the US.

Who to know: owners Ed Wyand and Tom Bell

What to order: a glass of Jean-Paul Thevenet Morgon 2011, a plate of spicy pork salami and a slice of Epoisses

Verden, 181 Clarence Road, Clapton, London E5 8EE; Tel: +44 (0)20 8986 4723 

Randall & Aubin Champagne and Seafood bar

Soho seafood shack Randall & Aubin has launched a Champagne and seafood bar that turns the concept of food and wine matching on its head. Guests are asked to order their Champagne of choice and are served seafood to complement it.

Shining a light on grower Champagnes, the fizz comes in half bottles making it easy to either enjoy alone or for two people to share. Among the Champagne and seafood matches on offer are Moutard Brut Reserve with lobster mayonnaise and Hébrart Premier Cru with a fruits de mer platter loaded with rock oysters, a whole crab, hand-dived scallops, Atlantic shrimps, cockles, whelks and Cherrystone clams. They had us at Champagne.

Who to know: executive chef Ed Baines

What to order: half lobster roasted in garlic butter and a bottle of Moutard Brut Reserve

Randall & Aubin Champagne and Seafood bar, 14-16 Brewer Street, London W1F 0SG; Tel: +44 (0)20 7287 4447 


Named after the most prized piece of land in Valdobbiadene – a 107-hectare, 1,000-foot high vineyard considered to be the “Grand Cru” of the region, Bellini bar Cartizze recently opened in Mayfair. Decked out with Art Deco-inspired interiors including leather bar stools in pastel hues, the cocktail list was devised by Richard Woods, the UK winner of Bombay Sapphire’s World’s Most Imaginative Bartender 2014 competition.

In keeping with the savoury cocktail trend currently sweeping the capital, in addition to a series of twists on the Bellini, including a blood orange version, also on pour will be an Olive Oil Gin Fizz. Lemon sorbet and Prosecco palate cleansers meanwhile, are served in vintage glassware sourced by the bar’s antiques fanatic owner, James Robson.

Cartizze also boasts The Conoissuers Collection – a privately sourced spirits range dating back to the 1800s, with customers given the option of keeping purchased bottles from the list housed in one of the bar’s spirit lockers. Among the bar snacks on offer are hand-dived Orkney scallops; figs wrapped in San Daniele ham and drizzled with truffle honey; and Parmesan biscuits with poppy seeds.

Who to know: owner James Robson

What to order: Truffled Liquorice Whisky Sour

Cartizze, 4 Lancashire Court, London W 1S 1EY

Fish & Sips

Popping up in the private dining room of Kensington Place in Notting Hill for the month of August is cocktail bar Fish & Sips offering a selection of summery cocktails created by the restaurant’s resident mixologist, Imants Zusmanis.

With a message in a bottle menu, cocktails include a cask-aged Hanky Panky, which blends La Quintinye Vermouth Royal Rouge, G’Vine Gin and Amaro; the Coral Collins – a blend of Excellia Tequila Blanco, Sette Vie Ratafia, lime and ginger beer; and the Seaside Spritz, featuring Limoncello, La Quintinye Vermouth Royal and Prosecco.

Bar snacks meanwhile, created by head chef Dan Loftin, come in the shape of beer battered fish goujons; whitebait with aioli; and marinated squid, cucumber and fennel.

Who to know: head bartender Imants Zusmanis

What to order: the Sip & Savour

Fish & Sips, 201 Kensington Church Street, London W8 7LX; Tel: +44 (0)20 7727 3184


Husband and wife duo Michael and Charlotte Sager-Wilde are to open a second wine bar this month under the railway arches in Bethnal Green. Named after the first grape ever planted in California, the 60-seater Mission will shine a light on Californian wine. The pair have teamed up with Rajat Parr and Sashi Moorman of Domaine de la Cote in the Santa Rita Hills to produce a Sager + Wilde own label Pinot Noir, which will be on pour by the glass and bottle.

In addition to wine, Mission will serve classic American cocktails, while head chef James De Jong formerly of The Drapers Arms in Islington will be whipping up Californian dishes with an Italian influence. The bar, which will initially serve dinner and weekend brunch, will feature and outdoor terrace and a 30-seater private dining room.

Who to know: owners Michael and Charlotte Sager-Wilde

What to order: a glass of Sager + Wilde own label Pinot Noir

Mission, 250 Paradise Row, London E2 9LE; Tel: +44 (0)20 7123 1234


Cocktail alchemist Ryan Chetiyawardana of bottled cocktail bar White Lyan in Hoxton is to open a bar at the Mondrian hotel on the South Bank this autumn inspired by botany and the British countryside. Dandelyan will craft twists on classic cocktails and new creations using locally sourced fruits, vegetables and herbs from Borough Market.

Using his scientific and artistic background, Chetiyawardana has created seasonal “field guides” with categories including cereal, vegetable, floral and mineral. One of the wackier cocktails on offer is made from minerals inspired by a flint cocktail he created while working with Tony Conigliaro at 69 Colebrooke Row in Islington. Crafted from green marble, the bar offers panoramic views of the Thames.

Who to know: master mixologist Ryan Chetiyawardana

What to order: Whatever the mineral cocktail ends up being called

Dandelyan at the Mondrian, 20 Upper Ground, London SE1 9PD; Tel: +44 (0)20 3747 1000

The Shrub & Shutter 

Opening soon on Coldharbour Lane in Brixton will be seasonal cocktail bar The Shrub & Shutter. The baby of Chris Edwards and Dave Trengenza, formerly of Adam St private members club, Baltic and Northbank, the bar will boast a seasonal cocktail menu that changes every week made using local, seasonal and homegrown ingredients.

Among the sips will be the Pea Mary featuring vodka, peas, bacon, chicken and mint and a Hunter Old Fashioned. On the food front, chef Yann Baril formely of the Hilton Park Lane has devised a menu of seasonal bar snacks, including terrines, tartares and carpaccios designed to pair with the cocktails. The space is set across two rooms with a bar at the front and a music room equipped with a meat smoker out back.

Who to know: owners Chris Edwards and Dave Trengenza

What to order: the Pea Mary

The Shrub & Shutter, 336 Coldharbour Lane, Brixton, London SW9 8QH

Basement Sate

Hot on the heels of the Pudding Bar comes Basement Sate – a dessert and cocktail bar due to open in Soho this September. The brainchild of Dublin-born Cathleen McGarry, co-owner of chic cocktail bar Sherry Butt in Paris, the 120-seater Broadwick Street bar will boast copper-topped tables and green leather banquettes. Devised by Provence-born pastry chef Dorian Picard, formerly of Gordon Ramsay’s Maze, desserts have been specifically created to pair with the tasting notes of the cocktails in order to enhance their flavours.

Priced between £8-13, puds will be available until midnight. Created by Byly Tran of the Prescription Cocktail Club, the drinks meanwhile twist on the classics, with the likes of seaweed, salted caramel and beetroot all making an appearance as ingredients, though mercifully not at the same time. The bar will also play host to live DJ sets, with music running the gamut from jazz and hip hop to deep house.

Who to know: owner Cathleen McGarry

What to order: signature sip the Brandy Crusta

Basement Sate, 8 Broadwick Street, London W1F 8HN

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