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London scores high with 10 venues in the World’s 50 Best Bars 2018

Savoy The American Bar © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2018

A First Impressions cocktail at The American Bar

The winners of the World’s 50 Best Bars 2018 have been revealed. Unsurprisingly, London has taken the crown and features an impressive 10 establishments on the list. Five hundred drink experts from around the world debated the annual ranking of bars, with the 2018 list unveiled on 3 October.

This year, the best place in the world to get a cocktail is Dandelyan at the Mondrian hotel on London’s South Bank. The bar opened in 2014, but creator Ryan Chetiyawardana announced this week it’s set to close. Meanwhile last year’s winner is at a respectable No.2 this year; The American Bar at The Savoy, with its long history dating back over 100 years.

Looking at the London establishments, I’ve been to a few of them, but my ‘to drink at’ list just got a bit longer! Here’s details of the capital’s top drinking destinations and their placing, according to the World’s 50 Best Bars 2018.

Swanky bar on the ground floor of the Mondrian hotel on the banks of the River Thames. Dandelyan is the brainchild of award-winning bartender Chetiyawardana, the man behind White Lyan and Super Lyan. British designer Tom Dixon curated the interiors with baby pink seating and a green marble bar.

Mondrian London, 20 Upper Ground, South Bank, SE1 9PD. Nearest station: Waterloo, Southwark or Blackfriars.

The Savoy’s bar is London’s oldest surviving bar, having opened in 1904. Expect art deco interiors, top class customer service and a live pianist on many evenings. The current menu (including First Impressions cocktail pictured) has been inspired by the photography of Terry O’Neill. Over the decades, it has quenched the thirst of Winston Churchill, Frank Sinatra, Marilyn Monroe, Ernest Hemingway, and many more.

The Savoy, Strand, Westminster, WC2R 0EZ. Nearest stations: Charing Cross, Temple or Embankment.

Plush Mayfair hotel bar with a 1920s vibe, featuring Cubist-inspired wood panelling, dark leather, candlelight and huge mirrors. Bar snacks and evening canapes also available.

Connaught Hotel, Carlos Place, Mayfair, W1K 2AL. Nearest station: Green Park or Bond Street.

Inspired by the bar at the Termini station in Rome, this cafe-cum-bar will particularly appeal to fans of coffee. Expect exposed brickwork, chequerboard tiles and wood interiors for a continental feel.

7 Old Compton Street, Soho, W1D 5JE. Nearest station: Leicester Square, Piccadilly Circus or Oxford Circus.

Oriole cocktails © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2018

International inspired cocktails @ Oriole

Hidden in the depths of Smithfield Market is a cosy, subterranean drinking den. Featuring explorer-style décor of teal and bamboo, there is also a decent food menu and live music in addition to the extensive cocktail menu, themed on different parts of the world.

East Poultry Avenue, Clerkenwell, EC1A 9LH. Nearest station: Farringdon.

A neighbourhood bar inspired by France. Cocktails inspired by French avant garde cultural icons sit alongside a selection of contemporary French dishes, including weekend brunch offerings.

423 Bethnal Green Road, Bethnal Green, E2 0AN. Nearest station: Bethnal Green.

This cosy Hackney bar has a simple premise and aims to be ecologically responsible. The menu is split into five sections: Tree, Overground, Plant-Bush, Underground and Sea, which feature pairing taster snacks.

224 Graham Street, Hackney, E8 1BP. Nearest station: Hackney Central.

This slimline Dalston bar changes its menu weekly. As well as cocktails, wine and beer, it also serves a range of cheese and wines.

510b Kingsland Road, Dalston, E8 4AB. Nearest station: Dalston Junction.

Hip speakeasy basement bar in the heart of Hoxton. Expect low lighting, exposed brick and a ‘no wallies’ policy. Although they keep seats for walk-ins, it’s very popular so getting a seat can be difficult.

8-9 Hoxton Square, Hoxton, N1 6NU. Nearest station: Old Street or Hoxton.

Swift bar covers two floors with each one having a different feel. Drinking aficionados should head to the basement bar for the best Swift experience, with the bar offering a strong focus on whisky and an extensive menu.

12 Old Compton Street, Soho, W1D 4TQ. Nearest station: Leicester Square, Piccadilly Circus or Oxford Circus.

For Metro Girl’s bar reviews, click here.

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Where to find London’s best speakeasy bars

Discover London’s best hidden and not-so-secret prohibition-inspired cocktail bars.

Disrepute © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2018

Head to one of London’s hidden basement bars

London is world-renowned for its nightlife… and with good reason. While admittedly the nightclub scene isn’t what it was in the ’90s and 00s, the quality of its bars has certainly increased tenfold. Back in 2013, Metro Girl published a guide to London’s speakeasy bars to coincide with the release of The Great Gatsby movie. Over the years, this post has continued to get a lot of readers, but it’s time for an update. A lot can change in five years with bars opening and closing all the time. While many of these hidden bars are 1920s themed and underground, some are on ground level, but are included on the list for their vintage vibe. Of course, in the capital, nothing stays secret for long so reservations are recommended for most of London’s hidden bars.

  • 69 Colebrooke Row

Islington cocktail bar with a 1950s Italian café vibe crossed with Film Noir. Billed as ‘The Bar With No Name’, it’s a tight squeeze with only 30 seats. Includes experimental cocktails, food, cocktail masterclasses and weekly live music. Reservations highly recommended.

– 69 Colebrooke Row, Islington, N1 8AA. Nearest station: Angel. For more information, visit the 69 Colebrooke Row website.

  • Barts

In the true spirit of a speakeasy, this secret bar is hard to find. Barts is hidden away in a 1930s Chelsea apartment block behind an unassuming door requiring a password to enter. The venue is styled as a 1920s gangsters’ hideout with the cocktail menu inspired by Uncle Barts’ mob. Read Metro Girl’s review of Barts.

– Barts, Chelsea Cloisters, 87 Sloane Avenue, Chelsea, SW3 3DW. Nearest stations: Sloane Square or South Kensington. For more information, visit the Barts website.

  • Beaufort Bar

Although not a speakeasy or a basement bar, the exquisite Beaufort Bar deserves to be on the list for its stunning Art Deco interior alone. While many visitors head to The Savoy’s American Bar, they often miss out on its sister bar. Expect stunning black and gold decor, fabulous cocktails and exception service. Read Metro Girl’s review of the Beaufort Bar.

– The Beaufort Bar, The Savoy, Savoy Court, The Strand, WC2R OEU. Nearest stations: Charing Cross, Embankment or Temple. For more information, visit The Savoy’s website.

  • Cahoots

Located hidden down a side street in Kingly Court, Cahoots is a step back in time to post-war London. During the Blitz, many of the capital’s tube stations were used as bomb shelters. Cahoots is essentially a post-war tube station, with plenty of vintage TfL memorabilia and furniture, 1940s-themed cocktails, and live swing and lindyhop. As well as cocktails, they also have late night music nights and boozy picnics. To get in, you are advised to make a reservation or try and talk your way in by getting into character and saying the right thing. Read Metro Girl’s review of Cahoots.

– Cahoots, 13 Kingly Court, Soho, W1B 5PW. Nearest stations: Piccadilly Circus or Oxford Circus. For more information, visit the Cahoots websiteRead the rest of this entry

Gin lovers required! Help find the world’s best bottle at the Gin Off 2018

GIn Off Graphic Bar

Gin lovers should head to the Graphic Bar to help the judge the best gin

If you know your gin, then your taste buds are required to help find the world’s best gin. Graphic Bar in Soho are hosting the Gin Off 2018 awards to hunt down the finest ‘mother’s ruin’. Sixteen of the planet’s most exciting brands will be competing for the top honour in a series of heats.

Each gin brand will put forward a mixologist to create a cocktail that makes the most of their tipple. The rules state the cocktail must be served in a disposable vessel, so expect to see drinks served in quirky alternatives, such as an ice glass or hollowed-out cucumber.

The Gin Off has been taking place annually since 2015 and Audemus Spirits’ Pink Pepper Gin have reigned supreme for the past two years. For 2018, Audemus have stepped out of the competition, leaving the field open for a new champion. Brands big and small are taking part this year, including Haymans, Beefeater, Fords, Marylebone, Copperhead, Nordes, NGinious, Brooklyn, Scapegrace, Nicholson, Daffy’s, Vidda, Boxer, Thomas Dakin, Monkey 47 and Bols.

Round 1 has already taken place on 30 April, but there’s three more rounds before the semi-finals and final take place in November. For this exciting competition, it’s the guests who have the power. Each gin lover is given a polling card before going on to sample four different cocktails and voting for their favourite. The overall winner will be crowned with a Copper Still trophy and will be featured on the Graphic Bar’s 2019 cocktail menu. Graphic Bar is a stylish, contemporary bar located in Soho and boasts a selection of over 300 world-class gins.

The remaining fixtures in the 2018 Gin Off are:

Round 2: 21 May – Haymans, Daffy’s, NGinious, Scapegrace.
Round 3: 25 June – Bols, Nordes, Monkey 47, Brooklyn.
Round 4: 30 July – Copperhead, Marylebone, Boxer, Fords.
Semi-final: 24 September.
Semi-final: 29 October.
Final: 26 November.

  • The Gin Off takes place on Mondays once a month until November 2018. At the Graphic Bar, 4 Golden Square, Soho, W1F 9HT. Nearest station: Oxford Circus or Piccadilly Circus. Tickets: £10 (include 4 gin cocktails). From 6pm-9pm on relevant dates. Tickets available through Eventbrite or email info@graphicbar.com. For more information, visit the Graphic Bar website.

For a guide to what’s on in London in October 2018, click here.

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Victorian Bath House review: Step back in time for exotic cocktails in one of London’s subterranean hideouts

Victorian Bath House © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2016

The Victorian Bath House is a new bar in a 19th century Turkish bathhouse

I’m always on the lookout for something a bit different when it comes to London nightlife. The latest new opening in the City definitely has that unique feeling. Situated in a churchyard just off bustling Bishopsgate is a 19th century Turkish bath house, now open as a new bar, restaurant and event space called Victorian Bath House.

Victorian Bath House © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2016

Bottled From The Lost City Of X (left) and Craven & Dunhill Ceramic Duo, served with a mini bottle of Peanut Butter Rum to add

The bath house was originally built as an underground palace of relaxation and hygiene, opening in February 1895. Designed by architect G Harold Elphick for Victorian entrepreneur James Forde Neville and his brother Henry, the bath house was narrow so it could fit between two 19th century office buildings – now long gone. With Turkish baths being all the rage at the time, the Bishopsgate ones were a huge hit with the public, who loved their marble floors, hot rooms and mosaics. The tiles were designed by Elphick and specially made at Craven Dunnill in Shropshire. The baths managed to survive the Blitz, but closed in 1954. Over the decades, the Grade II-listed building was used for various restaurants, a nightclub and storage space, before it was reopened as the Victorian Bath House in April 2016.

Today, the space is used primarily for special events, with the bar open ‘By Appointment Only’ from Thursdays to Saturdays. Last month, two girl friends and I booked a table on a Friday night to experience a night of decadence down below the streets of London. Walking into the courtyard, your eyes are immediately drawn to the Moorish pavilion entrance to the Bath House with its onion-shaped cupola and terracotta tiling. It certainly stands out among the modern, uninspiring office blocks surrounding it. After checking in our coats, we stepped down the winding, tiled staircase to the main bar – split into two rooms. A lot of the original tilework is still in situ, with the modern, Moorish-style furnishings complementing the interior. Low glass lamps and oil burners certainly made the bar very atmospheric.

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2016

The interior of the bar still features the original tile work and mosaics

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2016

Rhubarb Flip (Egg Yolk, Rhubarb Vodka and Granulated Sugar)

The menu features a range of wine and cocktails inspired by Victoriana with a modern twist. Of course, gin being the 19th century tipple of choice, it features prominently on the menu, with different flavoured gins available so you can mix your own cocktail. In a throwback to the building’s original use, the ‘Wash, Rinse… Repeat’ is a mini bath tub served with mini cocktail bottles to make your own boozy bath water. However, I started with the ‘Craven & Dunhill Ceramic Duo’, two versions of Peanut Butter Rum to mix to your own taste. Despite being a fan of peanut butter and rum separately, I wasn’t sure how well they would work together, but it was sweet and had a nice kick. Clearly I was in the mood for something sweet, so next I ordered the ‘Rhubarb Flip’, a smooth combination of Egg Yolk, Rhubarb Vodka and Granulated Sugar, which was thick and delicious. Meanwhile, my friends tried the intriguingly named ‘Bottled From The Lost City Of Z’ – a glass bottle filled with Coconut Water, Sugar Cane Rum infused with Almond, Pink Peppercorn, Rose Water and Fresh Pineapple, which they said was nice and refreshing. Served in a bottle with a straw reminded us of drinking school milk.

The evening was thoroughly relaxing with the setting really bringing a different dimension to what would be a typical Friday night social practice. The service was excellent and we found the waiters very informative and friendly. The drink menu was certainly imaginative and unique, which would really put cocktail and gin aficionados in their element.

  • Victorian Bath House, Bishopsgate Courtyard, EC2M 3TJ. Nearest station: Liverpool Street. For more information, visit the Victorian Bath House website.

For more of Metro Girl’s bar and restaurant reviews, click here.

Why not try out a bar in converted Victorian men’s toilet, Cellar Door in Aldwych?

Square Meal
By Appointment Only Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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The Little Yellow Door review: Gourmet bites and imaginative cocktails at this cosy pop-up

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2015

Healthy and more-ish: ‘The Yoga Bunny’ – Lentil hummus, Avocado and Labeneh dips with crudités and pitta bread

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2015

In the snug: Our group shared an intimate private area for the evening

I originally wrote a pre-piece about The Little Yellow Door when it first launched last October. However, it took me a bit longer to pay a visit than I intended. Finally, a couple of weeks ago, my friend booked a table for Saturday night drinks and nibbles for her birthday. The Little Yellow Door is a long-term pop-up in Notting Hill Gate which has been styled as a fictional flatshare, with the ‘flatmates’ inviting you to a house party. Entering the yellow door and going upstairs, the main bar looked very cosy and inviting, with sofas, magazines and posters giving the feel of a real flatshare. As we were a large group, we had been given the snug, a little private room which felt like we snuck into someone’s treehouse. Full of cushions and board games, it gave us a comfortable and laidback space to have girlie chats. As the night progressed, some other curious customers stuck their heads in to look, with some admitting they were feeling ‘table envy’ at our space.

We started off with some drinks as members of our group arrived. The experimental cocktails’ names are said to be inspired by the flatmates’ favourite TV shows and films. I ordered a ‘Passion of Christ’ cocktail which was a mix of vodka and prosecco served with a marshmallow. It tasted really sweet and was a bit too easy to drink. Despite the temptation of the other concoctions – some very original – I ended up sticking to the same drink all night.

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2015

Mr Overheard At Waitrose: Burrata, aubergine, salted tomato, oregano and salted onion served with crostini

On Saturday nights, TLYD offers a bar food menu so a lot of the dishes on offer are shareable nibbles suitable for a group. The dishes are inspired by the eclectic mix of people you would expect to bump into at a house party. ‘The Yoga Bunny’ is a dip selection with crudités and pitta, including Lentil Hummus with Mint and Pine Nuts; Taramasalata with Confit Onions and Pork Scratchings, Avocado with Pickled Onions, Tomatoes and Chipotle, Labeneh with Dill, Mint, Cucumber and Smoked Aubergine. Despite the healthiness of the dish, its fun presentation with the dips being served in martini glasses made it feel a bit naughty. I particularly loved the ‘Mr Overheard In Waitrose’, which gave you options of arancini, cheese or meats. We ordered the Arancini and Cheese dish – a gorgeous, creamy combination of Burrata, Aubergine, Salted Tomato, Oregano and Salted Onion, which was served with crostini.

By the time we ended up leaving The Little Yellow Door five hours later, our group was unanimous in agreement with how much we enjoyed the venue. The staff really had managed to recreate that friendly, house party vibe and I thought the make-up, hairbrush and other typical house bathroom paraphernalia in the toilets was a fun touch. Our waitress was great, explaining the dishes and concept and always making sure we had some liquid refreshment to hand. The food portions and choice were perfect for what we wanted on a social night out. I’ll have to return on a Friday to sample the full dinner menu.

  • The Little Yellow Door, 68 Notting Hill Gate, Notting Hill, W11 3HT. Nearest tube: Notting Hill Gate. Open Wednesday 6-11pm, Thursdays 5-11pm, Fridays 6pm-1am and Saturdays 7pm-1am. Book via WhatsApp. For more information, visit the Little Yellow Door website.

For more of Metro Girl’s bar and restaurant reviews, click here.

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Guide to New Year’s Eve 2014/2015 parties in London

This guide is for 31 December 2014. For New Year’s Eve for 2015 into 2016, click here.

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2012

Tunes: What music will help you see in the new year?

Can you believe the year is nearly over already? As always, it appears the past 12 months fly by at an alarming rate and it’s already time to say ‘sayonora 2014’ and ‘konnichiwa 2015’. If you can’t be bothered with the stress (and cleaning up the next day!) of organising your own bash or can’t quite see the allure of spending it on the sofa with Jools Holland and co, there is plenty of parties on across the capital. While this guide doesn’t claim to be comprehensive listings (there are 100s after all!), Metro Girl has handpicked some of the highlights of the party calendar for 31 December 2014. For most events, I would strongly recommend booking in advance, with many tipped to sell out and unlikely to have tickets on the door.

Don’t forget, TFL will be providing free public transport from 11.45pm until 4.30am on New Year’s Day.

To browse and buy tickets for new year’s events in London, check out Cluboid.com. Use the discount code ‘CAPITAL’ to get money off.

Central London

  • New Year’s Eve firework display over the River Thames

Thousands expected to take to the north and south of the River to watch the fireworks display near the London Eye. Although usually free, this year City Hall has introduced a £10 fee to cover costs. Tickets went on sale from 1–15 December. There will be a lot of congestion or potential closures of some tube stations around the Embankments so check with TFL before you travel. For more information of where you can and can’t access without a ticket, visit the London.gov.uk website. SOLD OUT

  • New Year’s Eve with John Newman – Rumpus Room

Mark New Year’s Eve being entertained by pop star John Newman at the Rumpus Room in the swish new Mondrian Hotel overlooking the Thames. Dress code: Glam. 8pm-3am.  Tickets: Standing (inc canapés and champagne) – £65, tables start from £275. Mondrian, 20 Upper Ground, Southwark, SE1 9PD. Nearest station: Blackfriars, Southwark or Waterloo East. For more information and booking, visit the Back Of House website.

  • Friday I’m In Love: New Year’s Eve Singalong – Prince Of Wales Feathers

London’s favourite singalong club night is coming to Warren Street to mark the dawn of 2015. Dance and singalong (as a group – not individual karaoke… thankfully!) to your favourite ’80s and ’90s hits. 8pm-2am. Tickets: £20, include a glass of Prosecco on arrival. Prince Of Wales Feathers, 8 Warren Street, Fitzrovia, W1T 5LD. Nearest station: Warren Street or Euston Square. For more information and tickets, visit the event’s Facebook page.

  • Vintage New Year’s Eve Party – Royal Festival Hall

The team behind the Vintage Festival put on a glamorous extravaganza of live bands and DJs spread across six pop-up vintage nightclubs from various eras, with bars, beauty parlours and photo studios also on site. Around midnight, some of the action will move to one of the balconies for a great vista of the New Year’s Eve fireworks over the Thames. Starts 7pm onwards. Tickets start from £117.50. Royal Festival Hall, Belvedere Road, SE1 8XX. Nearest tube: Waterloo. For more information, visit the Southbank Centre website.

  • ’90s Superheroes Party – Earlham Street Clubhouse 

Nineties bar Earlham Street Clubhouse are hosting a superheroes-themed New Year’s Eve bash. With complimentary cocktails for early arrivals 7.30-8pm. Fancy dress strongly encouraged. 7pm-3am. Tickets: £15. Earlham Street Clubhouse, 35 Earlham Street, Covent Garden, WC2H 9LD, Nearest tube: Leicester Square or Covent Garden. For tickets, visit the Design My Night website.

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2012

Ready to toast 2015?

  • Back To The Future Party – Bar Soho

As 2015 is famously the year Marty McFly ended up in the future, Bar Soho are drawing on the iconic film franchise to celebrate New Year’s Eve. Featuring live entertainment from Daddy Soho and the Soholites. Guests will be transported (1950s style) to the ‘Enchantment Under the Sea’ dance. Tickets start from £15. Bar Soho, 23-25 Old Compton Street, Soho, W1D 5JL. Nearest tube: Piccadilly Circus or Leicester Square. For more information, visit the Bar Soho website.

  • New Year’s Eve – Basement Sate

New cocktail and pudding bar Basement Sate in Soho is celebrating the advent of 2015 with booze, desserts and music. Tickets include one cocktail, one glass of champagne and a selection of canapés. With entertainment from DJ Franck Bombard and Lola. 8pm until late. Tickets £45. Basement Sate, 8 Broadwick Street, Soho, W1F 8HN. Nearest tube: Piccadilly Circus or Oxford Circus. Tables can be booked by emailing table@basementsate.com.

  • New Year’s Eve at M

The City of London’s newest food and nightlife venue M will be hosting their first New Year’s Eve party featuring eight course tasting menu from the RAW restaurant, accompanied by sparkling Sake and live music. £49 per person for 8 courses and entertainment. M, 2-3 Threadneedle Walk, 60 Threadneedle Street, City of London, EC2 8HP. Nearest station: Liverpool Street, Fenchurch Street or Cannon Street. For more information and booking, visit the M website.

  • Black Tie Masquerade Ball – Kettner’s

Kettner’s in Soho will be hosting a masquerade ball, featuring cabaret show, swing dance lessons, burlesque performances, a live band and DJs over two floors and three bars. 9pm-3am. Tickets: £50 for party or £125 including dinner at The Apartment. Kettner’s, 29 Romilly Street, Soho, W1D 5HP. Nearest station: Leicester Square or Piccadilly Circus. For more information, visit the Kettner’s websiteSOLD OUT

  • New Year’s Eve Stand Up Show – Comedy Store

Start your night off with some comedy from Stephen Grant, Prince Abdi, Jarred Christmas, Romesh Ranganathan, Pete Johansson and The Noise Next Door . After you’ve laughed yourself silly, there will a DJ spinning tracks after for some dancing. Show starts at 8pm. Tickets: £59. The Comedy Store, 1a Oxendon Street, SW1Y 4EE. Nearest tube: Piccadilly Circus or Leicester Square. For more information, visit the Comedy Store website. SOLD OUT

  • UV NYE Party – Bounce

Ping pong bar and restaurant Bounce will be lit up with a UV light installation so everyone will be glowing. Guests encouraged to dress in vibrant UV clothing. Including unlimited, free UV ping pong all night, UV face artists to glowify guests, cocktail prizes for the best UV outfits and retro party anthems spun by DJ Mighty Atom vs Nick Terrific. 8.30pm until 3am. Tickets: £15. Bounce, 121 Holborn, EC1N 2TD. Nearest tube: Chancery Lane. For more information and tickets, visit the Bounce website. For Metro Girl’s review of Bounce, click here. SOLD OUT

  • Belle Epoque’s Dark Circus Party

Enjoy an evening of ‘abandoned dancing, pleasure-seeking and spectacular entertainment’, featuring Bourne & Hollingsworth’s atmospheric production, amazing cocktails and performances from the Torture Garden. 9pm-3am. Tickets: £40. The Grand Hall St Pancras, Euston Road, WC1H 9JE. Nearest tube: Kings Cross St Pancras. For more information, visit the Dark Circus website. SOLD OUT

  • Prohibition 1920s New Year’s Eve party

Say hello to 2015 in 1920s style at this prohibition-themed party, includes live music, gramophone DJs, gambling, dancers and cocktails. Must dress in 1920s costume. 9pm-3am. Tickets: £40. Bloomsbury Ballroom, Bloomsbury Square, Bloomsbury, WC1B 4DA. Nearest tube: Russell Square or Euston. For more information, visit the Prohibition 1920s website. SOLD OUT

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Raise your glasses… London Cocktail Week is returning

© London Cocktail Week 2014

London Cocktail Week returns to the capital from 6-12 October
© London Cocktail Week 2014

London is world-renowned for its nightlife and bars, so it’s no surprise that cocktail drinking is quite the popular pastime amongst Londoners. Happy hour… or not, like many others, I love to catch up with friends over a Mojito or two after a stressful day at work. For me personally, a cocktail is more glamorous than my usual tipple and the flavours just can’t be outdone by a regular spirit and mixer.

From 6 to 12 October, the country’s biggest drinks festival London Cocktail Week is returning to the capital for the fifth year in a row. Events and offers will be taking place at over 160 bars, with 176 bespoke events including tastings, master classes, pop-ups and parties. To have access to unlimited £4 cocktails and free sampling and cocktail demonstrations, as well as the Cocktail Tours, all you need is a £10 wristband.

© London Cocktail Week

Learn how to make cocktails at one of the masterclasses
© London Cocktail Week

The main hub during the festival will be the Ketel One Hub in Seven Dials, near Covent Garden, where you can pick up your wristband and meet the LCW team who can help you plan your drinking. There will also be experts giving out tips, tasters and masterclasses.

Just some of the bars taking part include South Place Bar & Grill, Bourne & Hollingsworth, Callooh Callay, Almeida Restaurant & Bar, Dirty Martini, London Cocktail Club, Altitude Champagne Bar, Floridita, Barts, Hix Oyster & Chop House, Bobo Social, The Lucky Pig, McQueen, Reverend J.W. Simpson, W Lounge and many more.

  • London Cocktail Week runs from Monday 6 to Sunday 12 October 2014. To get your £10 wristband, visit one of the LCW hubs in Seven Dials, Spitalfields, Kings’ Road or London Bridge. For more information and listings, visit the London Cocktail Week website.

Just some of the LCW events on around town…

  • Baileys Martini Café, 39 Monmouth Street, WC2H 9DD

Baileys Original Irish Cream are hosting a pop-up mobile bar atop a Baileys branded bike, stationed outside 39 Monmouth Street in Seven Dials, Covent Garden. Members of the public will be able to sip on complimentary tasters of the ‘Flat White Martinis’ from 4–8pm (8 – 10 October) and 12-8pm (11 October). For more information, visit the Baileys website.

  • Mr Fogg’s, 15 Bruton Lane, Mayfair, W1J 6JD

The launch of Cointreau Noir (a unique blend of Cointreau and Rémy Martin cognac) on Thursday 9 October from 4-6pm.
Bottomless Tipsy Tea on Sunday 12 October from 2-6pm. Guests will have the chance to refill their alcoholic teapots as many times as they want within their two-hour booking. The ‘tea’ will be accompanied by sandwiches and cakes, as per your usual afternoon tea. LCW price is £60 instead of the usual £70. For more information, visit Mr Fogg’s website.

  • The Cowbell pop-up, 9 Shorts Gardens, WC2H 9AT

The winning trio from Monkey’s Shoulder Ultimate Bartender Challenge will be wowing drinkers during London Cocktail Week with their pop-up The Cowbell. Every night a different Glasgow DJ will be on the decks, while street food duo Deeneys will be offering their The Macbeth haggis toasties. As well as plenty of opportunities to drink amidst a Glasgow party vibe, there will also be talks and other entertainment on nightly. Open daily during LCW from 12pm-11pm. For more information, visit the LCW website.

  • Underground Punch Pong League – Underground Mash Up, Art’s Theatre Stage, 6-7 Great Newport Street, WC2H 7JB

Usually this event involves bartenders pitted against each other in a beer pong tournament, but with London Cocktail Club’s Black Pearl Punch instead of beers. For LCW, editors and journalists from the trade press will battle it out instead on Monday 6 October from 5-7pm. Free. There will be drinks on offer with a LCW wristband downstairs at the Covent Garden Cocktail Club. For more information, visit the LCW website event page.

  • Bulleit Bourbon 1950s Diner, London Cocktail Club, 224 Shaftesbury Avenue, WC2H 8EB 

The Bulleit Bourbon Diner will take residency at London Cocktail Club on Shaftesbury Avenue during LCW bringing a taste of 1950s Americana. As well as a jukebox playing 1950s classics, roller-skating waitresses, there will also be a Bulleit cocktail menu to accompany classic diner dishes such as corn dogs, deep-fried pickles in Bulleit Rye batter and fries with Cajun salt dusting. Open Monday-Saturday during LCW. Opening times vary. For more information, visit the LCW LCC page.

  • Maggie’s, Fulham Road, London, SW10 9QL

Eighties nightclub Maggie’s will be hosting a Malibu Beach Party in conjunction with the popular rum brand on Wednesday 8 October from 8pm-3am. Free entry before 10.30pm. Guests will be greeted with flower garlands, beach hats and sunglasses before taking part in beach games such as limbo and coconut shy. Pina Colada and Malibu Watering Cans will be the main drinks on the night. For more information, visit the Maggie’s website.


For Metro Girl’s review of London Cocktail Week 2012, click here.

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Lucky Pig review: Swig a cocktail (or four!) at this decadent drinking den

Lucky Pig © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2013

Retro style: The Lucky Pig bar features vintage furniture, ripped wallpaper and retro lighting

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2013

Basement speakeasy: Head downstairs for some retro decadence

I always loved the 1920s and 1930s as a stunning era for fashion, design and architecture. So with the release of the recent Great Gatsby movie, I was in the mood for an evening at a venues which fit the bill for a flapper’s night out. Arranging to meet a girl friend for some mid-week post-work drinks and a gossip in central London, we decided to meet at Oxford Circus and check out The Lucky Pig in Fitzrovia. While there are nearer tube stations, it’s really such a short walk to Clipstone Street – which is just off Great Portland Street. Located just under Bolshover House on the junction with Bolshover Street, you are greeted by a colourful mural with the name of the bar, inviting you downstairs to the basement below. While the cocktail bar is located in a basement, it is far from dinghy. Some skylights, coupled with twinkling chandeliers and retro lampshades, give the place just enough light. Although it hasn’t been there for years, the faded and peeling wallpaper, old posters and vintage furniture make you feel like you’ve walked into a hidden gem that’s always been there.

Lucky Pig 4 © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2013

Back in time: The mismatched furniture and retro lampshades gives the bar a vintage feel

My friend and I arrived on a Tuesday evening, but found most of the tables were reserved or taken so pulled up a stool at the bar. Happy hour was on giving two-for-one cocktails so we spent quite some time trying to decide between the wide range of original cocktails. We started off being a bit decadent than usual – well it did fit the theme of the bar! – by ordering a Prosecco-based mixture. We started with the Isadora Belle – a concoction of Belvedere Raspberry Vodka, framboise, pineapple juice and Prosecco, served in a martini glass and was delicious. We also tried a more light, refreshing Grey Goose Le Fizz – Grey Goose Vodka, lime, elderflower and soda. Although on the night in question there was quiet background music enabling us to talk, the bar does host live music and DJs too. Overall, the staff were friendly and the drinks went down very easily. I loved the venue’s faded-style grandeur which gave it a lot more atmosphere and style than so many other bars in the area. I will definitely be back.

  • Lucky Pig, 5 Clipstone Street, Fitzrovia, W1W 6BB. Nearest stations: Great Portland Street or Regent’s Street. Open Tues-Sat. For more information and detailed opening times and menus, visit The Lucky Pig website.

    Lucky Pig cocktails © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2013

    Cheers! A Grey Goose Le Fizz (left) and a Isadora Belle (right)


For a full list of all of Metro Girl’s bar and restaurant reviews, click here.

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Go back to the roaring ’20s with these Great Gatsby-inspired days and nights out

For a updated 2018 guide to London’s best speakeasy bars, click here.

© Warner Bros

© Warner Bros

Tonight sees the gala première of Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby movie at the opening of this year’s Cannes Film Festival. Out of all the decades of the 20th century, the 1920s is the one which appears the most decadent, stylish and hedonistic. Personally for me, it’s my favourite decade of last century, I just love the fashion, the architecture and the cocktails. It’s safe to say, the impending release of the F Scott Fitzgerald adaptation has kicked off Gatsby fever, with many shops, bars and restaurants embracing the 1920s with themed menus, events and fashions. So if you’ve got a taste for the period and want to have your own Gatsby night (or day), here’s Metro Girl’s guide to both pop-up and permanent 1920s and Gatsby-themed venues and events around London.

1920s and prohibition themed bars and club nights

  • Bourne & Hollingsworth Bar

Intimate basement cocktail bar in Fitzrovia looks like a grannies’ tea room, yet serve some strong cocktails which pack a punch. Bourne & Hollingsworth, 28 Rathbone Place, Fitzrovia, W1T 1JF. Nearest station: Goodge Street or Tottenham Court Road. For more information, visit the Bourne & Hollingsworth website.

  • Cellar Door
© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2014

Secret location: The Candlelight Club takes place in different locations every time

A former Victorian men’s public toilet at Aldwych has been converted into a basement bar. Features a range of cocktails, bar snacks, snuff (!) and a range of entertainment, including cabaret and burlesque. Open from 6pm until 1am nightly. Cellar Door, Zero Aldwych, WC2E 7DN. Nearest station: Covent Garden or Temple. For more information, visit Cellar Door’s website. Read Metro Girl’s review following a recent visit.

  • Evans & Peel Detective Agency

Basement speakeasy bar and restaurant in Earl’s Court. With cocktails being the main draw and 1920s experience, also features occasional live music. Booking in advance recommended. Evans & Peel Detective Agency, 310c Earls Court Rd, Earl’s Court, SW5 9BA. Nearest station: Earl’s Court. For more information, visit the Evans & Peel website.

  • 69 Colebrooke Row

Twenties-style cocktail bar in the backstreets of Islington. Billed as ‘The Bar With No Name’, it’s a tight squeeze with only 30 seats. Includes experimental cocktails, an occasional pianist and the chance to take a cocktail masterclass. Reservations highly recommended. 69 Colebrooke Row, Islington, N1 8AA. Nearest station: Angel. For more information, visit the 69 Colebrooke Row website.

  • Beaufort Bar @ The Savoy

You’ll be spoiled for choice from this extensive cocktail menu at the stunning black and gold, Art Deco bar in The Savoy Hotel. Excellent service, frequent live music with cocktails averaging £14.50 each. The Savoy, Savoy Court, The Strand, Westminster, WC2R OEU. Nearest station: Charing Cross, Embankment, Covent Garden or Temple. For more information, visit the Savoy’s website. Read Metro Girl’s review of the bar here.

  • Happiness Forgets
© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2013

Basement speakeasy: Head for some retro decadence at The Lucky Pig in Fitzrovia

Cocktail bar in a Hoxton Square basement. Reservations recommended. Happiness Forgets, 8-9 Hoxton Square, Shoreditch, N1 6NU. Nearest station: Shoreditch High Street (overland) or Old Street. For more information, visit the Happiness Forgets website.

  • The Lucky Pig

A speakeasy-themed basement bar in a Fitzrovia backstreet. Featuring Art Deco décor, red velvet curtains and an extensive cocktail list. Open Tues-Sat. The Lucky Pig, 5 Clipstone Street, Fitzrovia, W1W 6BB. Nearest station: Great Portland Street or Goodge Street. For more information, visit the Lucky Pig website. Check out Metro Girl’s review of The Lucky Pig.

  • St James Bar @ Sofitel London St James

Hotel bar inspired by Coco Chanel’s 1920s Paris apartment. Features vintage and signature cocktails, champagne and bar menu. Sofitel London St James, 6 Waterloo Place, St James, SW1Y 4AN. Nearest station: Charing Cross or Piccadilly Circus. For more information, visit the Sofitel St James website.

  • Rise 46

A 1920s-inspired bar in Clapham, featuring live music and entertainment. Open daily from 5pm, closing times vary, but 2am on Friday and Saturday nights. Rise 46, 46 Battersea Rise, Clapham, SW11 1EE. Nearest station: Clapham Junction. For more information, check out the Rise 46 website.

  • Various dates : Prohibition 1920s Parties

This company has been hosting 1920s-themed parties in the capital for several years in various secret locations. Dress up in the 1920s-style to drink cocktails from tea cups, dance to live bands and DJs, gamble and watch silent cinema. Tickets: £20. For more information, visit the Prohibition 1920s website.

  • Various dates : The Candlelight Club

A pop-up vintage nightclub which appears in various secret locations. Customers are asked to dress in 1920s-themed costumes, but nothing too flammable as the venue is lit entirely by candles! Includes one-off cocktail menu, special themes, live jazz bands and vintage DJs in a secret London location. For more information and tickets, visit the Candlelight Club website. For Metro Girl’s review of a Candlelight Club night, click here.

  • Every Saturday : Kit Kat Club @ Proud Cabaret City

The City branch of the Proud Cabaret chain is transformed into a 1920s speakeasy on Saturday nights, featuring 1920s menu and burlesque performers. £49 inc three course meal and show. Reservations highly recommended. No.1 Mark Lane, City of London, EC3R 7AH. Nearest station: Tower Hill or Monument. For more information and booking, visit Proud Cabaret’s website.

Specials events during the film’s release (Spring 2013)

  • Now until 20 May 2013 : 1920s-themed pop-up bar at Harrods

The folks at Knightsbridge’s iconic department store have transformed the underground tasting room and wine shop into a 1920s-themed bar in honour of the film’s release. Includes cocktail-making demonstrations and special creations by Courvoisier, Hendrick’s and Johnnie Walker available for consumption. Open during store hours. Harrods also features themed cocktail recipes and inspiration for fashion on their online ‘Summer Of Now’ shop. 87-135 Brompton Road, Knightsbridge, SW1X 7XL. Nearest station: Knightsbridge. For more information, visit the Harrods website.

  • 16 – 19 May 2013 : Whiteleys Goes Great Gatsby

To celebrate the opening of the Great Gatsby film, Whiteleys shopping centre is hosting four days of 1920s-themed events. Includes Charleston performances, swing dancing lessons, 1920s-inspired fashion shows, beauty boudoir, piano playing, photo booths and a speakeasy bar. Following the launch night on Thursday 16th, the event will be running from noon-5pm on Friday until Sunday. Whiteleys Shopping Centre, Queensway, W2 4YN. Nearest station: Bayswater and Queensway. For more information, visit the Whiteleys website.

  • From 1 May 2013 onwards : Roaring ’20s Afternoon Tea @ Harvey Nichols

Season at The Fifth Floor restaurant of Harvey Nichols will be serving a unique Gatsby-inspired afternoon tea experience. Includes lobster rolls and peanut butter roll-up ‘Gatsby’ cigars as well as scones, macaroons, served with a glass of Champagne with gold leaf or prohibition cocktail. Available daily from 3-5pm. £30 for afternoon tea, or £40 including cocktail or Champagne. Harvey Nichols, 109-125 Knightsbridge, SW1X 7RJ. Nearest station: Knightsbridge. For more information, visit the Harvey Nichols website.

© Carbonated on Flickr

© Carbonated on Flickr

  • 23 May 2013 : Gatsby night @ Libertine

The Fitzrovia club is hosting a one-off 1920s-themed night featuring cocktails, champagne, canapés, jazz beats and special performances. Dress code: 1920s glamour. Tickets: £30. From 8.30pm – 3am. Libertine, 4 Winsley Street, Fitztrovia, W1W 8HF. Nearest station: Oxford Circus. For more information, visit the Libertine’s website.

  • Every Thursday in May : Great Gatsby Nights @ The Montagu

The Montagu restaurant at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, The Churchill is laying on a 1920s-inspired three course set-menu, including a coupe of champagne on arrival and live music from the hotel’s resident band Hot Dog Corn Dogs. Guests are encouraged to dress in themed fancy dress, with the best dressed winning free tickets to a screening of the film and the chance to win a three night stay at The Grand Hyatt New York. Price: From £35 per person for set menu and a glass of champagne. 30 Portman Square, Marylebone, W1H 7BH. Nearest station: Bond Street or Marble Arch. For more information, visit The Churchill’s website.


For a look at what London looked like in the ’20s, watch this amazing colour video shot in 1927.

If the coverage of the Cannes Film Festival inspires you to visit the town, read Metro Girl’s blog post on my trip to the French Riviera last summer.

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photo credit: carbonated via photopin cc

The Thames isn’t the only thing that’s flowing: Cocktails with a view at the Oxo Tower Bar

Oxo Tower © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2012

The Oxo Tower restaurant is located on the southbank of the Thames

For me, and many Londoners, the jewel in the city’s crown has to be the River Thames. As well as providing a great way to travel, the rivers also showcases some fine bridges and is bordered by some of the capital’s most iconic buildings and attractions. No visit to London would not be complete for tourists without a visit to the River Thames and some of its sights.

When it comes to dining and drinking riverside, there are lots of options ranging from the affordable (Pizza Express Bankside or Giraffe in the Southbank Centre) to the lavish (Skylon at the Royal Festival Hall or Pont De La Tour on Shad Thames).

Cocktails © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2012

Pleasure boat (left) and Port Of London (right)

However, few of these Thames-side diners come with such a spectacular – and heady – view as the Oxo Tower Bar and Restaurant. I first went to the restaurant in 2001 for a family birthday meal – five years after it had opened and remember the tasty oysters and friendly service.  The bar and restaurant is located on the eighth floor of the iconic building, with an outdoor terrace for alfresco drinking when the weather’s good. But before I wax lyrical on the amazing cocktails, good service and views I experienced on my recent visit, a little bit of history behind the building.

To those who have grown up in Britain, the brand of Oxo is well-known for its stock cubes. Although the building was originally built as a power station for the Post Office in the late 19th century, it was acquired by Liebeg (Oxo’s manufacturers) in the late 1920s. Although much of the building was demolished, the façade remained and was extended. Architect Albert W Moore (1874-1965) proposed spelling out Oxo in electric lights on the tower, but was refused permission, so the compromise of Oxo written in the window panes was agreed.

However, after Oxo moved out, over the years, the building fell into decline. However, a resurgence was in the pipeline when it was acquired by the Coin Street Community Builders in 1984. In the 1990s, the building and tower were refurbished to a high standard, giving the building over to shops, galleries, residential and restaurant space, with the latter opening as Oxo Tower Restaurant in 1996.

Still highly commended as one of London’s best restaurants, you are advised to book ahead to eat. However, when it comes to the bar, you may be lucky enough to have availability. On a sunny Friday afternoon in July, a friend and I decided to go up to the bar on the spur of the moment and were thrilled to be given a balcony-view table.

Our table gave a stunning view of the north bank of the river and some of its famous landmarks – St Paul’s Cathedral, The Gherkin, BT Tower and the list goes on.

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl

What a view to drink to!

The extensive cocktail menu includes many original creations by Oxo’s mixologists, many of which are London and Thames-themed, with the average price of £12.50 per drink (average West End price for cocktails are £8-£9 so you’re paying a bit extra for the quality and setting). I chose a fruity Pleasure Boat – a Tiki-style drink complete with Tiki cup available to take home (for a price). The drink was a concoction of ‘Elements 8 barrel infused spiced rum & house orgeat, shaken with fresh pineapple, scooped passion fruit, fresh lime, falernum & aromatic bitters’ and tasted really good. My friend opted for a Port Of London, a refreshing combination of HN LBV Port, Beefeater winter release gin, lime cordial and lemon.

The service was friendly and efficient, our drinks came with a little plate of peanuts – a nice bonus that only the best cocktail bars provide –  and the view was amazing. I can highly recommend the venue for drinks for a special occasion or something to remember to visitors.

  • Oxo Tower Restaurant, Brasserie and Bar, Barge House Street, South Bank, SE1 9PH. Nearest station: Blackfriars or Waterloo. Visit the website for more information and booking.

For other London bars with a view, read Metro Girl’s blog posts on Galvin at Windows at the Park Lane Hilton or Vertigo 42 Champagne Bar review or SushiSamba London review.

For a list of other Metro Girl’s bar and restaurant reviews, click here.

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