Truly an art form, mixology has taken off in recent years. Many a dad has found a new cure for mid-life crisis: trying his hand with a cocktail shaker and a cupboard full of unheard of spirits. With this we’ve seen a rise of some wonderful cocktail bars in London, where punters flock to enjoy delicious concoctions created by mixologist showmen. See the best of the best below.
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Purple Bar, Fitzrovia
The name says it all – Purple Bar is decked out in purples, lavenders and violets to create a striking evening destination. The cocktails are inventive to say the least. See the ‘Heisenberg’ for reference: vanilla, dry chocolate, lillet blanc and mascharino with edible flowers. Demand is high which sometimes makes the venue accessible to few, but TRULY may well have your way in…
Must try: The Garden of Earthly Delight is a deliciously fizzy gin cocktail
Artesian Bar at The Langham
This place was named the World’s Best Bar in 2014 by Drinks International. That was thanks in no small part to Alex Kretena and Simone Caporale, the pair at the helm of the Artesian Bar. Purples are again predominant, though here offset by silver. Classic cocktails are order of the day, but the bar staff will happily guide guests off-piste.
Must try: Kretena and Caporale both revere the Manhattan and craft it expertly here, while the famed ‘Digidiva’ is presented in extraordinary fashion
Nightjar, Old Street
Tucked away in a diminutive spot off Old Street, Nightjar could well be considered one of London’s hidden gems. Or at least it used to be, until everyone cottoned on to its beautifully presented, rich in flavour cocktails. With jazz playing til late, Nightjar is a good spot to spend an entire evening.
Must try: The delightfully oriental Name of the Samurai is composed of Nikka whisky from the barrel, with sake, plum & galangal liqueur and a splash of popcorn tea infusion some of the other ingredients
Oskar’s Bar, Tottenham Court Road
Whether it’s the unusual, natural ingredients or just Oskar himself – he is, afterall, two time gold medal winner of the Cocktail Challenge, there can be no denying the quality of Oskar’s Bar. The inventive cocktails include a return to form for beer and cider mixes, with the bar in the basement of the acclaimed Dabbous – where reservations are as hard to find as your car keys after a few of Oskar’s specials.
Must try: Combine Harvester – one of Oskar’s proudest recent inventions, with a fusion of cider brandy and sherry
The Bar at The Dorchester
Dark yet alive, the bar at the Dorchester is an intoxicating venue before you’ve even tried the drinks. Giuliano Morandin, the head barman, is a maestro in suit and tie. Name a base spirit and he’ll create you the perfect concoction from scratch.
Must try: Try a bellini poured from the bar’s bespoke teapots
Duke’s Bar, St James’s Place
Hidden off St James’s Place, Duke’s really is a classy joint. A proper old London establishment, the venue looks just as much speakeasy as it does cocktail bar. Don’t be fooled, though, the cocktails here are made with great precision by consummate professional white-jacketed bartenders.
Must try: Try the martini with straight up frozen gin, dashes of bespoke vermouth and oil wrung from Amalfi lemon
Located high above the Southbank, Dandelyan’s views match the drinks. It was named ‘Best New International Cocktail Bar 2015’ by Spirited Awards, while maestro mixologist Ryan ‘Mr. Lyan’ Chetiyawardana won the accolade of ‘Best Bartender in the World’. Innovative mixes are the norm here, with ingredients like Seaweed, Acorn-fed ham and Beeswax regularly on the menu.
Must try: Peach in a Pine Cone includes Mr Lyan Gin, fermented peach, pine cone, citrus and soda
El Camion, Soho
This Mexican roadhouse, perhaps surprisingly situated on Soho’s Brewer Street, is run by a chap often called the godfather of British bartending. Dick Bradswell serves up two of his own sublime inventions here, the bramble and espresso martinis – two drinks fast becoming British classics.
Must try: Aside from Bradswell’s inventions, do try the pitch-perfect margarita
69 Colebrook Row, Islington
Founded by one of London’s leading cocktail scientists, Tony Conigliaro, 69 Colebrook Row is a charming corner bar on a side street not far from Angel station. Conigliaro and his team serve up negronis and 50-50s, with a less than subtle nod to Italy obvious throughout. 69 Colebrook Row was originally called ‘The Bar with No Name’. Mention this and you will raise a smile.
Must try: 50-50; a martini with equal parts gin and dry vermouth
Feeling thirsty? See all of TRULY’s cocktails for two experiences.