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Food + Drink

Celebrate World Cocktail Day 2024: Fourteen Of London's Best Bars

It’s World Cocktail Day, and London has plenty of places to celebrate. These are fourteen of London’s best bars.

Including a bar at The Ritz London spotlighting a new cocktail each month, a hidden spot in Soho that seats only four, a smattering of new openings, and plenty of unique takes on mixology – these are some of the best bars in London for 2024.

Whether you’re looking for somewhere to visit this evening, to book for a special celebration, or to enjoy with good friends, each of these London bars are tried, tested and recommended by the CF team and contributors. 


The Rivoli Bar At The Ritz London

As an ongoing addition to the classic cocktail menu, The Rivoli Bar is spotlighting a cocktail each month; this May the Sakura – a delicate twist on a classic wet martini (a martini with higher volumes of Vermouth) with a Japanese, Roku Gin base – celebrates the arrival of spring by cherishing the fleeting season of Japanese cherry blossom. Deep notes of peach and cherry enrich the botanical gin for a delicious and spring-like flavour sensation on your palette. The bar, a lavish space featuring metallic golds, crystal chandeliers, and ornate velvet seating, applies gastro-physics and elements of psychology to their creations, led by head mixologist, Michele Saladino, who focuses not only on flavour but also on texture in his creations. Other menu highlights include The Rivoli 75, a gin-based cocktail first written onto the bar’s menu in 1930. Ella Mansell.


42 in Mayfair

Opening late last year, 42 in Mayfair is the first cocktail lounge from JKS, the team behind two of London’s best Indian restaurants, Gymkhana and Trishna. Be ready for a lavish affair, beginning as you alight a set of dark-green lacquered stairs. From here, the rich and indulgent atmosphere continues; its centrepiece the intricately-carved, Indian-peafowl inspired bar, surrounded by a room filled with brocade fabrics, patterned carpets and lacquered ceilings. 42’s menu uses Indian ingredients as the hero, serving up a variety of cocktails mixed with flavours including Bansura peppercorn, olive-brine papad, and weaver ant chutney. Bar snacks are well worth digging into and include achari masala olives and aloo papads. Alexandra Carello. 


Baccarat Bar At Harrods

Located inside Harrods, Knightsbridge, the cocktail menu at Baccarat Bar is inspired by photography. Exploring techniques – such as black and white, colour inversion, bleaching, bokeh and long exposure – cocktails here reflect some of the key practices used within the craft and are served in pairings. In the Colour Inversion duo, for example, a red, Pepper-berry Club combines raspberry and beetroot flavours with a hint of spice, while its partner, Cool Blues is a more aromatic experience, mixed with raspberry, golden beetroot and a hint of menthol. The bar itself is everything you might expect from the Baccarat crystal brand; handcrafted chandeliers and glasses meet a low-lit space boasting a red velvet-clad bar and plush seating. Gemma Louise Deeks. 


Little Blue Bar, Peninsula London

 

Canton Blue: The Dining Room

Canton Blue: The Dining Room

Little Blue Bar at The Peninsula London seats just 20 to 25 people. The refined and romantic space takes inspiration from maritime trade routes linking China and Britain, and you’ll see the theme reflected throughout its cocktails, too: set sail to St Helena with a mix of saffron, almonds, agave and pepper in the Terra, or to Hong Kong with the negroni-like cocktail, Timur. Soak up the cocktails with bar snacks featuring Cantonese delicacies and Hong Kong street food (don’t miss the wok-fried Scottish Wagyu rolls or the crispy prawn wontons), or save yourself for dinner in the adjacent restaurant, Canton Blue. Alexandra Carello. 


The Painter’s Room, Claridge’s, Mayfair

A fabulous, flirt of a place, The Painter’s Room – a ground-floor bar at Claridge’s – is a stylish hideaway. Sip on an elegant stir to the sounds of hip-hop remixes, French electro-pop and jazz as you cast your eyes over the doodled drinks menu. The emphasis is on cocktails inspired by the culture, art, and design of Europe. Expect fresh flavours and boutique pours sourced from British, French, and Italian producers, while the brilliant bar snacks include prawn tempura, baby beetroot and a selection of British cheeses, among other things. With just 24 covers, The Painter’s Room is an intimate space; bring your best girlfriends or significant other. Gilly Hopper. 


Tayēr + Elementary, Old Street

Photo Credit: Bernard Zeija

Ranked no.8 in The World’s Best Bars for 2023, Tayēr + Elementary is owned by bartending experts Monica Berg and Alex Kratena, who collectively have received a blush-worthy number of awards for their skills over the years. The bar is split into two halves: Elementary, the front bar serves cocktails from the tap and from the bottle, while Tayēr is hidden behind a concrete partition with a U-shaped bar, and designed to allow guests a front-row seat to the cocktail-making action. Sustainability is a large focus here, so the menu regularly changes according to seasonal and available ingredients. This is a walk-in only spot, arrive early. Megan Read. 


Vesper Bar at The Dorchester, Mayfair 

Expectations were sky-high last year, for the renovation of what is undoubtedly one of the city’s most glamorous hotels. After much anticipation, The Dorchester unveiled its magnificent new ground floor, including two dazzling bars; Artists’ Bar and Vesper Bar. The new Vesper Bar takes inspiration from the hotel’s notable connection with James Bond writer, Ian Fleming. For the martini curious, or those who fancy themselves as Bond, the Vesper martini is the obvious choice. Made with Stolichnaya Elit vodka and The Dorchester’s own Old Tom gin, it’s the shining star of the cocktail menu, mixed to impeccably lethal perfection. The overriding feel at The Vesper Bar is a sense of seductive fun, so be sure to bring someone you can laugh with and who’ll happily order a second portion of shrimp tempura with you. Alexandra Dudley. 


Bacchanalia, Mayfair

Designed by interior architect, Martin Brudnizki, Bacchanalia is not a place that takes itself too seriously; it’s a visual and culinary feast. Damian Hirst’s mind-blowing statues of unicorns, a winged lion, Medusa and Bacchus feel like they might come to life; staff wear togas and Roman dresses; floor-to-ceiling murals of Greek Gods and Goddesses line the walls; and the genuine, 2,000 year-old antique busts dotted around the venue add authenticity. Serving as a restaurant, bar and one of London’s best private dining spaces, take a seat at the bar and order one of their creative cocktails: the Eucalyptus and Meteora are great options. The bar serves a separate menu to the restaurant, including caviar, crudo, antipasti, salads and pastas. There’s no need to book, you can pop in for a drink anytime. Alexandra Carello. 


KOL Mezcaleria, Marylebone

Paying homage to the magic of Mexico’s mezcal bars, KOL Mezcaleria stands apart from its Marylebone neighbours. Working with a number of small independent Mexican producers, spirits at the bar are sourced from Oaxaca, Puebla, Yucatán, and beyond. You can’t go wrong with your drink of choice: try an Old Fashioned or a Martini if you’re not sure where to start or, if you’re feeling brave, opt for the Raspado, made with Estancia Raicilla and scotch bonnet. Food focuses on Mexican flavours and seasonal, often wild, British ingredients. Their Antojitos menu offers an interpretation of traditional Mexican street food including empeñada, ceviche and a guacamole with pistachio sauce. Gilly Hopper. 


The George, Fitzrovia

From the outside, The George seems to be a simple and understated pub, a space that bashfully deflects attention away from itself. However, inside, discover the charm and ambience of what is one of Soho’s best kept secrets. Head straight upstairs – a small, and discreet staircase guides you there – to the wine bar where shades of magenta and mauve, hot pink and rosewood, blend together to amplify the space like a petite jewellery box. Enjoy a glass of champagne as you watch the sun-soaked chaos of London drift past like cinema. The bar only seats four; call to make reservations in advance. Sophia Penelope Hill. 


Bar des Prés, Mayfair 

Bar des Prés is the kind of place you’ll visit for a pre-dinner drink and end up missing your later reservations, instead seduced by the cosy and sexy interiors. The London cousin of Cyril Lignac’s Parisian hotspot bottles the same vibe; exuding elegance and with a touch of old-world glamour. Rich in colour and bold in pattern the carpet sets the tone and is set against mahogany accents, high velvet bar stools, and low-slung arm chairs that are perfect for spilling secrets. Exceptional French wines take centre stage, but Bar des Prés excels at its food offering too. Order the fried sushi, avocado and crab galette and the squid tempura. Alexandra Carello. 


Seed Library, Shoreditch 

Caitlin Isola

Funkadelic in architecture and groovy in ambience, at Seed Library – just below the tried and true hipster cool of Shoreditch High Street – dimly-lit small booths and communal couches will be your spot for the night and cocktails are given centre stage, with a 70s joie-de-vivre meets 50s smokey sultriness. A drink here is an escape from the usual East London chaos, and a slip into a relaxed yet vibrant evening. Skip the usual Soho crowds, pull out your platforms or studded leather jacket, and settle in for an evening of Spicy Metropolitans. Or, opt for the Coriander Seed Gimlet with notes of grape, and hints of spiced warmth. Sophia Penelope Hill. 


The Dandy Bar, Mayfair

Located inside the Mayfair Townhouse hotel on Half Moon Street – a short distance from Piccadilly and Green Park – The Dandy Bar is an ideal place to escape the capital’s hubbub for a few hours. Cocktails here have an avant-garde twist; the Yuzu Margarita and Cavendish Negroni are good choices or, for those who prefer their drinks with a few bubbles, their classic champagne cocktail is as good as we’ve ever tried. The bar’s design and recently-refreshed cocktail list pays homage to the many dandy characters of the past and more recent present, not least the celebrated playwright Oscar Wilde, whose best-known play – The Importance of Being Earnest – was set in a tavern that once stood on this very street. Visit from 2PM onwards when cocktail shakers start to make an appearance. Sarah Jackson. 


Cadet, Newington Green

At Cadet, a daily changing blackboard menu offers low-intervention wines by the glass (and if you’ve a curiosity for something else there’s usually a couple more behind the bar too). If this is your first rodeo with natural wine you’ll be in good hands. Cadet is more bar than restaurant, but the kitchen serves up a succinct menu of seasonal small plates as well as excellent charcuterie. Visit early as they operate a walk-in only policy. Alexandra Dudley.


Lead image: Vesper Bar, The Dorchester

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