I think London is the cat’s pajamas when it comes to cocktailing. With old standbys plus frequent new openings, there are just too many great cocktail choices for a simple “Best Five London Cocktail Bars” list. Instead i like to cover it a little bit at a time. For example, here’s a lovely little three bar hop tucked away borough of Hackney.
Start your night at the stellar Three Sheets. The spirits selection is carefully pared down to a small selection and the drinks menu is divided into sheets (1, 2 or 3 to indicate how relaxed you might feel after your cocktail of choice.) The 1 sheet selections are good for kicking off your night as they fall more into the low octane, aperitif style. (Though I won’t judge if you decide to start off your night with a stiff martini instead.) The decor is minimally cool and the friendly bartenders give great advice on other great places for drinks and food alongside their cocktails. Plus they have a most excellent French 75 by the glass…. or the bottle!
Now that you’ve loosened up a bit, take a walk over to Every Cloud. It’s a twenty minute stroll but you’ll be rewarded by a teeny tiny bar that serves teeny tiny martinis on tap. Cute, right?! This laid back little hidey-hole keeps things so snobbery-free in attitude that you might overlook the artistry that has gone into the menu. The popular (and highly quaffable) Champagne Daiquiri is a house derived acid base made to taste even better than the French equivalent and play nicely with rum and fruit juice. They successfully incorporate off-beat ingredients like seaweed or horseradish or tweak classics just so for a range of nicely balanced beverages. Bonus: Silver Lining, just next door, is their sister restaurant, so grab a bite before hitting your last bar of the night.
Just a few steps from Every Cloud you’ll find a contemporary bar that stays open late and where vinyl rules (and do I mean of the turntable variety, not the fashion statement variety.) The decor is all bright white tiling and the Tannoy Gold sound system previously belonged to the late Joy Division producer Martin Hannett. That combined with its basement location just makes it feel like the place where the in-the-know cool crowd finishes their cocktail crawls. But it’s not just about the sounds here – the seasonal cocktails are reason enough to drop by. And it’s not obligatory to follow our itinerary. They do a nice happy hour early evening, too!
I’m currently really digging those three bars and recommend a stop in following the above route or just any of them, anytime. But, there are plenty of other choices in the borough and some of the other Hackney cocktail bars I recommend are: Cub, Sager + Wilde, Happiness Forgets, Untitled, and Black Rock. (I like Black Rock, a lot!) Everyone loves Nightjar, but I can take it or leave it. And, I still need to get up to Original Sin. I guess another trip soon is in order!