Cocktails

WEST

Beach Blanket Babylon

Bar, Restaurant|45 Ledbury Road, Notting Hill|£££|Have a look!

Every time I want to impress visiting guests I treat them to an evening at Beach Blanket Babylon (BBB). This Rococo decadence style jewel of a bar is tucked away from busy Notting Hill central. It is the original BBB (with sister bar in Shoreditch) and the first cocktail bar I set foot on in Notting Hill upon my arrival. And this love is still going strong. There are no words to describe the ambience and deco – if you can only visit one cocktail bar in Notting Hill (or even London) this is it. If you prefer a more lounge cocktail atmosphere opt for early Saturday evening, Sunday or during the week. Saturday nights after 10pm the DJ is turning the place into a dance floor, although little can be done on the dance front as it is always seriously packed.

Try: Three words. Porn Star Martini. This is the bar that kicked off the craze in London and it is still the only one that delivers a spotless martini.

Perfect for: duo catch ups, date nights, winter nights (huge fire places make the place magical)

Eclipse

Bar|111-113 Walton Street, Chelsea|£££|Have a look!

This place has acquired over the years some ‘die hard’ fans. It was going strong when I first arrived in London and still is. It is very small with nothing spectacular design wise but the music is fantastic and this creates a good vibe.

Try: its famous ‘watermelon martini’

Perfect for: Sunday afternoons are the best time

E&O

Bar, Restaurant|14 Blenheim Crescent, Notting Hill|£££

This place is minimal. Masculine chic. And this is what I really love about it. No non-sense leather furniture, dark enamelled tables, a fireplace following suite. And those amazingly wide windows that bring in the most beautiful light. It is an all day bar and perfect each single minute of the day. Whether this is for relaxed afternoon drinks or more upbeat evening cocktails. Personally I can visit in the afternoon and leave in late evening hours. I love Sunday afternoons, it has the best vibe in the area.

Try: Daquiri, straight up.

Perfect for: Sunday afternoons

The Lonsdale

Bar, Restaurant|48 Lonsdale Road, Notting Hill|£££|Have a look!

Bar downstairs, restaurant upstairs. Another long Notting Hill institution. The bar is always buzzing no matter the day but weekends is especially busy. I like the bar for lounge cocktails during the week when the music is chilled (last time I was there on a Saturday DJ was playing disco, up to you) and the atmosphere is more relaxed.

Perfect for: week days, due catch ups

The Montgomery Place

Bar|31 Kensington Park Road, Notting Hill|£££|Have a look!

Full of character, New York style cocktail bar at Notting Hill’s ‘Little Italy’ and my favourite one in Notting Hill for Saturday night cocktails. Drinks are amazing, staff always polite and helpful and music is brilliant. It is small but it is impressive. This is the second place I bring visiting friends after BBB in Notting Hill. It may not have the ‘wow deco factor’ but it has the right attitude and on a Saturday it provides a stress-free environment while it is packed. How many places can achieve this?

Try: Pina Colada

Perfect for: Saturday nights

Kensington Roof Gardens

Club, Restaurant|99 Kensington High Street|£££|Have a look!

A West London institution, strongly established and still very popular. Gorgeous gardens on – what pretty much is – the top of a building in busy central London. You can equally enjoy the club and restaurant when the weather gets colder but the best part about visiting this place is the Gardens in the summer months.

Perfect for: summer nights

Negozio Classica

Wine bar|283 Westbourne Grove, Notting Hill|££

Cosy little place with character and the only winery (and deli) in Notting Hill. Offers Tuscan-inspired food, a perfect accompaniment to the wide wine section.

Perfect for: matey get together, date nights

Rum Kitchen

Bar, Restaurant|6-8 All Saints Road, Notting Hill|££|Have a look!

A Caribbean beach shack type restaurant and bar. Serves tasty comfort food upstairs while downstairs has a rum bar and interesting (their names even more) cocktail combinations. Even if you are not a rum fan, the place is always buzzing and worth visiting.

Try: rum based cocktails

Perfect for: Saturdays

The Botanist

Bar, Restaurant|No 7 Sloane Square, Chelsea|££|Have a look!

Cocktail-saviour solution in Chelsea where besides all its beauty it is an area with not many cocktail bar choices, as one would have expected. It is always busy and buzzing but opt for a Saturday afternoon (and stay onwards) where the atmosphere is at its most festive.

Perfect for: people watching

Trailer Happiness

Bar|177 Portobello Road, Notting Hill|££|Have a look!

This is not a cocktail bar in the traditional type of sense. With a purposely tacky 60s deco offers its own interpretation of classic cocktails (with a tiki twist) and a whole range of tropical ones with obscene names and combinations. Overall if you are looking for a more relaxed Saturday night venue in Notting Hill would recommend.

Try: too many tacky names options!

Perfect for: buddy catch ups

CENTRAL

No 41, Westbury Hotel

Opulent surroundings, red velvet and grand chandeliers adorn No 41. An intimate space at Westbury Hotel, perfect for evening drinks.

Perfect for: winter cocktails

The Arts Club

Private Members Club|40 Dover Street, Mayfair|£££|Have a look!

Impressive, historical (used to be Dickens’s favourite space) private members club with a number of different bars, restaurants and a live music club at the basement. Very chic interior and attentive service.

Perfect for: from business meetings to social evenings

Jazz After Dark

Jazz Bar|9 Greek Street, Soho|££|Have a look!

A personal favourite. This intimate jazz club almost feels like a private club. Late Amy’s Winehouse favourite haunt, it attracts a regular crowd and it is always busy. Book a table or make sure you go there early, the host is always very accommodating to ‘make a table happen’. Limit yourselves to just simple drinks, no food or complicated cocktails.

Perfect for: live music, date nights

Ham Yard Bar & Restaurant, Ham Yard Hotel

Hotel Bar| 1 Ham Yard, Soho|£££|Have a look!

Recently opened its doors, the Ham Yard hotel is the sister hotel of The Soho Hotel and part of Firmdale Hotels brand. Country chic, this is a very welcoming addition to the West End where elegant cocktail venues are rare. Very glam hotel with a number of grand, different rooms for drinks or afternoon tea and a charming greenhouse area with fireplaces.

Perfect for: brunch, cocktails

Home House

Private Members Club|20 Portman Square|£££|Have a look!

Located across three Victoria houses, this luxurious historical Club offers a combination of the modern with the classic element. My personal favourite is the very special House No 20; its rooms really transfer you to a different era.

Perfect for: from business meetings to evening socialising

Light Bar, St Martins Lane Hotel 

Hotel Bar|St Martins Lane|£££|Have a look!

I have to admit, I have a special weakness for anything by the Morgans Hotel Group. But they deliver every single time. This beautiful hotel is located in impressive St Martins Lane hotel and offers quite an intimate atmosphere. Minimal yet chic.

Try: espresso martini

Perfect for: late night cocktails

Long Bar & Purple Bar, Sanderson Hotel

Hotel bars|50 Berners Street|£££|Have a look!

One of my favourite London hotels. And possibly on the favourite list of many Londoners. Purple Bar is a very intimate bar, offering a decadent purple velvet deco and low light. Very exclusive and very romantic.

Perfect for: date nights

Long Bar is the sociable equivalent and offers an 80-feet long space with key characteristics its ‘white, clean’ minimal style.

Perfect for: week days 

May Fair, The May Fair Hotel

Bar|Stratton Street, Mayfair|£££|Have a look!

This a big, beautiful bar with excellent service and great cocktails. But the experience/ambience is better during the week not Saturdays. Trust me on this one.

Perfect for: week days

Momo

Bar, Restaurant|25 Heddon Street|££|Have a look!

Moroccan theme bar and restaurant with a lot of character. Ottoman-style tables and couches invite for a very long and comfortable stay. It is very small so make sure you arrive early.

Perfect for: Sunday afternoons

Opium

Secret bar|15-16 Gerrard Street, ChinaTown|£££|Have a look!

Secret bars is one of London’s latest trends. Although perfectly legal, the venue masks as a prohibition type of bar with no obvious entry. It is not easy to first find it but it is all part of the experience. Opium is like a little oasis. Once you have entered the door and moved up the decayed walls, it is an opulent multi space venue with each room having its own personality and music. Cocktails and dim sums are excellent. This place is just magical.

Perfect for: both friend catch ups and dates. Late nights (3am licence)

Oscar Bar & Restaurant, Charlotte Street Hotel

Hotel Bar|15-17 Charlotte Street|£££|Have a look!

Relaxed and buzzy hotel bar in the heart of Charlotte Street, dominated by the ‘media crowd’. Great choice for a lounge cocktail setting in Central London where the bars are many but the quality can be low.

Try: espresso martini

Perfect for: week days

Refuel Bar, The Soho Hotel

Hotel Bar|4 Richmond Mews, Soho|£££|Have a look!

Tucked in Richmond Mews, The Soho Hotel is one of the few choices in Soho for cocktails at an elegant setting. Very beautiful surroundings and efficient service.

Perfect for: date nights, Sunday afternoons

Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club

Jazz Bar|47 Frith Street, Soho|£££|Have a look!

The most famous jazz club in London and a Soho institution. It offers from up and coming talents to the biggest names in the industry and it is packed on a daily basis. Although it offers a few ‘walk in’ opportunities later in the evening, it is best to purchase your tickets in advance. This is not really the place for complicated ‘cocktail’ drinks, this is all about keeping drinks simple and enjoying the music. There is also Ronnie’s bar on the second floor offering a lot of live latin music.

Perfect for: live music

sketch

Bar, Restaurant|9 Conduit Street, off Oxford Street|£££|Have a look!

Sketch has many spaces, a restaurant, a bar with woodland creatures deco but the place where most of the cocktail action takes place is the tiny circular bar called East Bar. It may be branded as ‘pre dining drinks’ but this bar is the heart and soul of Sketch.

Perfect for: date nights

EAST

Beach Blanket Babylon

Bar, Restaurant|19-23 Bethnal Green Road, Shoreditch|£££|Have a look!

The Shoreditch version of the original BBB in Notting Hill. It is a very beautiful cocktail bar & restaurant although having the Notting Hill bar as my local favourite there is something in this version that is not authentic enough. Still a great choice for East London should you not wish to join the hipster crowd.

Callooh Callay

Bar|65 Rivington Street, Shoreditch|££|Have a look!

Quirky cocktail bar, hidden in an alley (Rivington street). It has a number of different areas, downstairs bar, a lounge area with access through a wardrobe (yes you read correctly) and an upstairs bar. It can get really busy Fridays and Saturdays and roughly after 8pm door staff starts operating a guest list policy so make sure you get there early enough.

Perfect for: winter cocktails

Loungelover

Bar, Restaurant|1 Whitby Street, Shoreditch|£££|Have a look!

One of my favourite cocktail bars in London and my no1 go-to cocktail place in the East. The Award winning bar deco is dominated by antic furniture and pieces and combines the eastern raw brick quality with art deco decadence. It can be hard to get a table in the weekends, the place is always really busy, so recommended to plan in advance.

Perfect for: week days, date nights

Sushi Samba

Bar, Restaurant|Heron Tower, 110 Bishopsgate, Liverpool Street station|£££|Have a look!

The London edition of the famous Sushi Samba brand, this is a place you really need to visit as any type of review or description will never be fair enough. I love this place for the out of the world views and chilled Brazilian samba music. Opt for a week day than weekends. Atmosphere is a bit more eclectic.

Bar service is very slow and with attitude, not impressed I had to pay for a service charge after waiting at the bar for 20 minutes to get a drink – defeats the purpose of ‘rewarding for the service’. Table service is somewhat more effective.

Perfect for: the views, ambience

Vertigo, Tower 42

Champagne Bar|25 Old Broad Street, Liverpool Street station|£££|Have a look!

The best part about this bar is actually located outside the bar. The views. A 360 degrees view of London, an impressive sight. The interior is in a desperate need of a refurbishment but as the views are the winner element here, not much will be done in any other area. The staff makes the best to their ability to be impolite and inefficient.

Perfect for: the views

 

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