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.
- 1) Dandelyan
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.
- 6) Bar Termini
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.
- 17) 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.
- 18) Coupette
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.
- 28) Scout
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.
- 29) Three Sheets
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.
- 46) Swift
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.
In the run up to Christmas, it’s the busiest time in most Londoners’ social calendars. No doubt many friends will be meeting for a cocktail (or three) in one of the capital’s various bars. With so many venues, we’re spoiled for choice when it comes to places to drink. However, if you’re looking for something extra festive, why not sip on a Christmas-themed cocktail?
Here’s Metro Girl’s round-up of the top Christmas cocktails on offer in London this 2016 season:
Clapham’s late night destination has recently had a more food-focused makeover. For December, they’ve given the beloved Espresso Martini a Christmas twist – the ‘Vanilla Espression’ (£9) including Cariel Vanilla Vodka, Tia Maria, Espresso and Sugar Syrup).
For a night out with a difference, head to Soho’s secret drinking den Cahoots, which recreates post-WW2 London in a ‘tube station’. The drinks menu is heavily influenced by wartime tipples. Their festive offering is ‘The Stocking Stuffer’ (Christmas spiced Bombay sapphire, signature almond mince pie sweet mix, sultana grapes infused with Martini Rosso, pink grapefruit, topped up with Bulmers pressed red grapes cider).
- Dirty Bones
American diner Dirty Bones have created a sweet festive concoction – ‘Mince Pie Bramble’ (Bombay Sapphire gin, lemon juice, brandy and port-infused mince pie reduction (£8).
Dirty Bones – branches in Kensington Church Street, Carnaby Street and Club Row, Shoreditch. Nearest stations: High Street Kensington, Oxford Circus or Shoreditch High Street. For Metro Girl’s review of Dirty Bones, click here. Read the rest of this entry
Anyone that follows my Instagram profile may have noticed I love cocktails. So it’s no surprise that I’m a huge fan of London Cocktail Week – an annual celebration of mixology. This year sees the team from Drink Up London hosting LCW for a sixth year in a row from 5 to 11 October 2015. For those who don’t know, LCW sees hundreds of venues across the capital get involved with special drinks promotions and events.
The main way to get the most of LCW is to buy a £10 wristbrand, which entitles you to £5 cocktails at participating venues. Last year, a large group of girlfriends and I picked up our wristbands from one of the LCW hubs and after trying one of the in-house cocktails, went on an epic bar crawl around Covent Garden, Soho and Fitzrovia, taking in about 7 or 8 bars. Many of the venues had one special LCW drink available so it was a night for experimenting (and mixing spirits… oops). I recommend to start early and also make sure you enjoy a good meal beforehand or during.
You can order your wristband online or buy one from the hub at the Vinyl Factory, 51 Poland Street in Soho, where there will also be bars and special events, or the London Cocktail Week Village at Old Spitalfields Market.
Here’s just some of my highlights during this year’s London Cocktail Week…
A one hour cruise from King’s Cross’s Granary Square on a canal boat. Daily throughout LCW. Price: £30pp.
Cocktail masterclasses from the bartenders at Happiness Forgets in Hoxton. Daily throughout LCW. One hour long. £20pp
Eat and drink your way through Soho on a guided walk by local chef Michelle Francis, who will share the history, architecture and culture of the area along the way. Friday 9 and Saturday 10 October. £69.50.
Pop-up bar for whiskey fans in Kingsland Road. Daily throughout LCW. Free entry for LCW wristband holders.
Chambord Black Raspberry Liquer are hosting a party at Brixton’s Sovereign Loss on Thursday 8 October. Featuring live music and Prohibition-style cocktails. Free entry for LCW wristband holders.
Enjoy cocktail courses paired with British American tapas in the Green Room at the House of Vans underneath Waterloo station. Thursday 8 October. £38.50.
Bringing the event to a close with a knees-up and oysters at the East London Liquor Company near Victoria Park. Sunday 11 October until midnight.
And here’s some reviews of participating bars…
- London Cocktail Weeks runs from 5 to 11 October 2015. For more information, visit Drink Up London.
For a guide to what else is on in London this month, click here.
When the sun comes out in London, one of the best places to be is a rooftop bar. The wind in your hair and no need to worry about the shade that inevitably encroaches on the pub gardens down below. After being somewhat neglected in the rooftop bar area compared to East and South London, West London is the destination for the next rooftop nightspot.
Launching on 31 July 2015, Storeys will be offering sky-high drinking, food and entertainment on the top of the former BBC Car Park at Television Centre in White City. The venue will be spread over two levels, covering a huge 24,000 square feet, giving stunning views over West London.
Providing the grub will be a rotating line-up of street food traders, including Le Bun (French-American fusion), White Men Can’t Jerk (Caribbean street food with a twist), Crabbieshack (soft-shell Folkestone crab burgers), Randy’s Wing Bar (buffalo wings and homemade hot sauce), En Brochette (a skewered alternative to carb-heavy street food) and Aji Ceviche (fresh Peruvian ceviche and anticuchos). On Saturday and Sunday mornings, brunch will be on offer, featuring Nicaraguan coffee, organic tea, free range BBQ sausages and smoked bacon rolls.
Meanwhile, the bars will be well stocked with a wide variety of drinks, including expertly-crafted rum cocktails from the Rum Shack and tropical fruit sharers, ice cold beer and more from the TV Bar.
In keeping with such an urban setting, the venue will feature some striking artworks including murals, art installations and bold graphic designs from young artists and London street artists. Among the various seating options will be comfortable day beds for those who wish to stretch out underneath the sunshine.
To keep you entertained while you eat or drink will be daytime game areas, evening DJs, outdoor film screenings and yoga sessions with Serene Social for Saturday early risers.
- Storeys will open from 31 July until 11 October 2015 on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. Open Fridays 5-11pm, Saturday 11am-11pm and Sunday 11am-8pm. Storeys, Multi Storey Car Park, Television Centre, Wood Lane, White City, W12 7RJ. Nearest station: Wood Lane. For more information, visit the Storeys website.
For a guide to what else is on in London in October, click here.
For Metro Girl’s bar and restaurant reviews, click here.
World Cup fever has officially hit London. Although we’re nearly 6,000 miles away from the action in Brazil, plenty of pubs and other venues are getting in on the action with screenings. Although it’s been a long time since football was just considered a game for men only, sometimes the viewing experience of the World Cup can be a bit… let’s say ‘uncouth’ for a finer breed of lady.
This is where Gabbi’s Head fills the void. The team behind cosmetics brand Benefit have opened a pop-up pub in the heart of London’s West End where women can enjoy the beautiful game in a pretty environment. Football fans and Benefit lovers will be able to watch the matches, while sipping beers or special cocktails. Benefit make-up artists will also be on hand to provide makeovers, including complimentary brow waxes, skin care sessions, tanning and make-uppers. Over the next few weeks, aside from all major World Cup screenings, there will also be wine tasting, bingo, comedy nights, poker and film screenings.
I was lucky enough to be invited to the press preview night of Gabbi’s Head this week and had a fabulous night. The venue looked like a fusion of members’ club-meets-traditional boozer, with celebrity guests Kirsty Gallacher, Diana Vickers, Samantha Barks and Matt Richardson, among others in attendance. With a mix of pink stools and plush sofas, there was plenty of seating to rest your derriere, or a pink table football game if you’re in a playful mood. Watching Brazil beat Croatia in the opening game of the tournament while sipping on cocktails such as the Rasp-Bene Mojito or Bene-Berry Bellini and nibbling on yummy canapés was a different from the usual football watching experience I’ve had. I’ll definitely be back for some football fun in the next few weeks.
- Gabbi’s Head, is open from 13 June- 13 July 2014. Located on the 1st floor above the Prince of Wales, 150-151 Drury Lane, Covent Garden, WC2B 5TD. Nearest tube: Covent Garden or Holborn. Free entry. For more information, visit the Benefit UK Facebook page.
For a guide to open-air World Cup and Wimbledon screenings in London this summer, click here.
For a guide to what else is on in London this month, click here.
So many pubs and bars these days blend into one another with their identical interiors and serving the same range of drinks. However, when it comes to the newest addition to the Forest Hill drinking scene, Sylvan Post is a truly unique venue. The pub is located in an old 1960s post office, with many of the original features still in existence. I wouldn’t use the word converted exactly, because there are still so many Royal Mail features within the building, which I loved. The bar itself feels like an old Post Office counter, with the original shelving and clock behind – I could even read ‘first class x 12’ and ‘second class x 12’ written on one of the shelves. The door to what would have been the back office is now accessible with a mish mash of seating amongst old filing cabinets, including the metal strong room door. Adding to the retro, kitsch feel are formica tables and wooden seating, giving the pub a working men’s club-meet-school canteen – in a good way! The owners had clearly embraced the building’s history with lots of Royal Mail paraphernalia mixed with beer mats and other interiors from the 1960s.
The night in question a group of friends and myself visited, it was incredibly busy due to the Museum At Nights event up the hill at the Horniman Museum. Although we were too big a group to fit in one of the cosy-looking booths, we were lucky enough to get one of the large tables. We were all starving, so ordered from the varied menu, which includes a mix of British and Mediterranean fare. I ordered a vegetable frittata with salad and fresh bread, which was delicious and filling. Two of my friends ordered the Angus beef burger, which they really enjoyed.
Ale drinkers will be particularly drawn to this pub as it always has four real ales on tap. There was a good wine menu too, as well as the usual collection of bottled beers and ciders and spirits. The service was friendly, with a mix of 20 and 30 something clientele. Although it attracts mostly locals, it won’t disappoint those making a longer trip seeking a unique and quirky venue.
- Sylvan Post. 24-28 Dartmouth Road, Forest Hill, SE23 3XU. Nearest train/Overground station: Forest Hill (13 minutes from London Bridge). For more information, visit the Sylvan Post website.
To read Metro Girl’s other restaurant and pub reviews, click here for our contents page.
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 pal 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. 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.
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 St, 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.
For a full list of all of Metro Girl’s bar and restaurant reviews, click here.
Cellar Door is perhaps one of the most unique drinking spots in the capital. Located at Zero Aldwych on the junction with Wellington Street, this intimate bar and club is actually in a former Victorian men’s public toilet! According to their website, it was previously one of the most infamous men’s toilets in Theatreland, with Oscar Wilde, Sir John Gielgud and Joe Orton among its former users. However, don’t be fooled and think you may be drinking among porcelain urinals. This small space has been cleverly converted into an entertainment venue, with just the square windows from the street above the only hint at its former incarnation.
The entrance certainly gives a hint of the grandeur which lurks below with red VIP-style velvet rope outside the door. Once you’re downstairs, a doorman sweeps open the velvet curtain to reveal the space – a bustling well-lit bar to the left, a mix of sofa and bar stool seating and a little ‘stage’ area in the corner. The venue includes just two actual toilets – which, fortunately, could not be further from the ones which would have stood here over 100 years ago. The cubicle doors appear to be worryingly clear when you first step in, but cleverly ‘frosts’ over when you lock it… so make sure you do! Entrance is free and so is the entertainment, but a service charge is added to your drinks to cover both.
A few female friends and I visited on a Saturday night and were lucky to get the last table and stools. As you would expect, there isn’t much space so it’s worth arriving early or reserving. The bar is open from around 6pm and includes entertainment from 9pm nightly and gets full pretty quickly. We managed to get in a round of cocktails during the Happy Hour (1/3 off), which finishes at 8pm. Their extensive menu features a range of original and classic cocktails, with many themed around the bar’s style icons Marilyn Monroe, Betty Page and Dita Von Teese. I started with an Angel Eyes (Nicaraguan white rum, Blackberry liqueur, Campari, lemon juice and soda), a sharp but refreshing long drink. I followed with an old classic – a Moscow Mule (Vodka with fresh line, sugar and ginger). As well as cocktails, wine, hot drinks, they also sell snuff, which fits in with the retro basement dive vibe. The Cellar Door ‘Angel’ waitress serves your drinks with complimentary popcorn, although there is a small bar menu, serving food like olives, nuts and pitta plates.
At 9pm every night, the entertainment kicks off. Includes cabaret, DJs, magic acts, film screenings, drag queens and open mic nights. On the night we were there, we were provided with a soundtrack and some laughs by a flamboyant drag DJ. Unfortunately, we missed the burlesque act which performed later on, so I will have a make a repeat visit to see more of the entertainment. Overall, I really liked Cellar Door. The venue was cosy and intimate, the bar staff were friendly and what we saw of the entertainment was good. The clientele was a friendly crowd ranging from 20s to 40s. The cocktails were really delicious and I was tempted by many of the original concoctions, so will have to make a return visit to try those out.
- Cellar Door, Zero Aldwych, WC2E 7DN. Open from 6pm until 1am nightly (sometimes opens earlier for weekend events). Nearest stations: Covent Garden or Temple. For more information and listings, visit Cellar Door’s website.
To read more of Metro Girl’s bar and restaurant reviews, check out our contents page.
As you may have noticed from previous blog posts, I’m a sucker for a good view. As London becomes more built-up with more skyscrapers popping up, the skyline is constantly evolving with some buildings losing their good views altogether.
I finally had the opportunity to visit the Galvin at Windows cocktail bar at the Hilton Park Lane for a friend’s birthday this week. Situated on the 28th floor – with the Windows at Galvin restaurant next door – the views are awe-inspiring. To the south-west, you can see Hyde Park Corner, Albert Bridge and Battersea Power Station and to the north-east, the shining beacon of the BT Tower. The bar has floor to ceiling windows (hence the name Galvin at Windows) on two sides, with low-lighting and comfortable seating giving the space an intimate feel.
Although described as a cocktail bar, there is a wide range of other alcoholic drinks, including an extensive whisky collection. However, we had specially timed our visit for the bar’s ‘Blissful Hour’, a January offer for two-for-one cocktails between 5 until 7pm on Mondays and Tuesdays. Included in the offer were the popular Mojito, Cosmopolitan and Martini (very strong indeed!). Although I initially went for my personal favourite – the Mojito, I also tried the French Lover – Galvin’s own version of the Cosmopolitan, made with Grey Goose Vodka, grapefruit juice, Grand Marnier and Sweet & Sour. It was refreshing, sweet and delicious and it turned out to be the most popular order amongst us five women at my table. Outside the offer, the extensive cocktail list starts from £13.50, or if you’re detoxing, there is a selection of ‘mocktails’.
Overall, the service was attentive and friendly, and our seating was incredibly comfortable – it would have been quite easy to sit quaffing for hours. Although my group were saving ourselves for a dinner afterwards, there is a bar menu for those who feel a bit peckish. I would highly recommend the bar for a location to celebrate a special occasion. I’m looking forward to trying out the restaurant next door…
- Galvin at Windows cocktail bar, 22 Park Lane, Mayfair, W1K 1BE. Opening times: Mon-Wed 11am-1am, Thu-Fri 11am-3am, Sat 3pm-3am, Sun 11am-12am. Reservations highly recommended. Dress code: Smart casual, no sportswear. Nearest tube: Hyde Park Corner. For more information, visit Galvin at Windows website.
For other bar/restaurants with very different views, read Metro Girl’s blog review on the Oxo Tower or Vertigo 42 Champagne Bar review: Hope you’ve got a head for heights… and bubbles.
Or if cocktails in a decadent setting appeal to you, check out our post on the Beaufort Bar at the Savoy Hotel.
For Metro Girl’s tips on restaurants with a view on London, check out our guide to eating with a vista on Urbanspoon.
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, Giraffe in the Southbank Centre) to the lavish (Skylon at the Royal Festival Hall, Pont De La Tour on Shad Thames).
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 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.
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 tube/train station: Waterloo or Blackfriars. 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: Hope you’ve got a head for heights… and bubbles or SushiSamba London review: A delicious, unique culinary experience with views to die for
For a list of other Metro Girl’s bar and restaurant reviews, click here.