From ice cold mojitos to smooth single malts, London is abuzz with unique bars. These spaces are widely popular for social interaction and are constantly reinventing themselves to meet contemporary needs. We take a look at the top 5 places for pre-dinner drinks in Central London and their signature drinks.
Transport yourself to Polynesian paradise in the heart of London. Mahiki, set over two floors, is the ultimate destination for the Hawaiian lover. With its tiki décor, delicious fresh fruit cocktails and tropical flowers adorning every bartender’s hair, a night out here is unique in every respect. The bar operates an open-door policy and advanced booking is only taken for table reservations on busy nights.
Signature Drink: The Mahiki Treasure Chest is worth every penny. Served inside a 4 foot treasure chest, this drink is prepared for eight people to share. Mahiki Grog, brandy and peach liqueur is shaken with lime and sugar and topped with a bottle of Moet & Chandon champagne. The original pirate’s booty.
Barts is situated in the elegant Chelsea Cloisters on Sloane Avenue. This quirky speakeasy-style bar offers an extensive wine list and unique cocktail mixes. Open till 1.30am, one can drink here to their heart’s content. The ambiance is cosy and tables are well spaced to give customers a sense of space and privacy.
Signature Drink: Try the Mad Hatter’s Top Hat. Spiced berries, apple juice and Russian Standard vodka come together with freshly cut fruits in a large black top hat. Topped with a whole bottle of prosecco, poured in front of your eyes, this certainly is the piece de resistance at Barts.
Hide Bar, London Bridge
An elegant space next to London Bridge tube, Hide Bar is a must-visit for those who like drinks with a flair. Whether you’re after Bond’s Vesper Martini, a Rye Sazerac or a Blood & Sand, the mixologists will be happy to create your favourite drink just the way you like it. The bar also has a collection of cocktail books going back to 1890 if you want to order something off-menu. Each cocktail is then created using unique theatrics. Apples are caramalised before your own eyes, whisky is smoked and absinthe is dripped through a sugar cube. These smooth performances by the mixologists make every drink you order an experience to be savoured from the word go.
Signature Drink: First made in 1922 for the Rudolph Valentino movie premier of the same name, The Blood & Sand Cocktail is a unique offering here. The cocktail consists of Monkey Shoulder Malt Scotch whisky, Cherry Heering, orange juice and Antica Formula.
Skylon Bar, Waterloo
Skylon offers a spectacular panorama of London’s skyline, with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the Thames. Amid the plethora of bars on the Southbank, Skylon stands out for the quality of its cocktails, an extensive wine list and breathtaking views. The bar thrums to the chatter of friends and colleagues enjoying a drink and the rattle of cocktail shakers. It is especially popular after work and as a meeting-place for concert-goers in the Royal Festival Hall and diners in Skylon’s grill and restaurant. For those with a smaller appetite or who are pressed for time, Helena Puolakka’s innovative Bar Food Menu is just the ticket.
Signature Drink: The classic ‘Skylon’ cocktail disappoints few. Fresh grapes and ginger is muddled with Ciroc vodka, Pomme liqueur, fresh lime and apple juice and served in a chilled martini glass.
Dukes Bar, Mayfair
Drinks at Dukes Bar is something of an occasion. The legendary bar is internationally renowned for its famous martinis and personalised cocktails. Frequented by James Bond author Ian Fleming, the bar is said to be the inspiration for the classic line, ‘shaken, not stirred’. So whether you’re relaxing after a meeting or getting together with friends, the intimate and timeless surroundings of Dukes make it an unforgettable experience. Afterwards, customers can retire to the cognac and cigar garden.
Signature Drink: Fleming 89 Martini was introduced to celebrate the link between Dukes and James Bond. Created in partnership with Foris, whose “89” Eau de Cologne was famously worn by James Bond, the flavour and smoothness of the martini make this a drink to remember.