London is in love with cocktails. If you are planning a few days in the capital over the Easter break then these three bars are worth more than a quick look. The last few years have seen the UK’s capital rediscover classic cocktails and experiment with countless new ones. The city is home to some very famous mixologists and equally famous bars. Today, we are going to draw a line from South West London, through the West End and into the City itself.
First up is Venn Street Records, just off Clapham High Street. This is a classic local bar serving a strong mix of live music and good DJs, check the website for listings. The bar’s ambience is a mix of retro and modern themes, contemporary furniture, exposed brickwork and walls of classic album covers. The bar opens every day, except Monday, from 5pm with entertainment starting around 8 or 9pm. It is worth getting there early for happy hour.
Cocktail to try – The Romero
5 rums, 3 juices, a smack of citrus, a dash of bitters and a dot of passion fruit syrup make this a formidable tribute to the original Zombie. It is served with a flame garnish and Venn Street suggest that you approach it at your peril.
In the heart of Soho we find LAB, the London Academy of Bartenders. Founded in 1996, LAB was conceived as training school for bartenders who wanted to hone their skills and many of whom are now resident in famous bars around the world. In 1999 the school became a bar but maintained its ethos while training and hosting some of the world’s greatest mixologists. There is a guest DJ on Thursdays with residents on Friday and Saturday. A true icon of the London cocktail scene, this bar is a must visit. For a full review have a look at Dan Priseman’s piece on Bitters & Twisted.
Cocktail to try – The Muchas Caracas
Santa Teresa Selecto rum stirred down with maple syrup, Plymouth Sloe gin and apricot liqueur. Served with a dried apricot garnish.
Around the corner from Old Street and just off City Road is Nightjar. One of the coolest bars in the City, Nightjar offers a magic mix of live music, great cocktails and an electric ambiance that fuses modern life with a speakeasy smile. There’s no standing at Nightjar, everyone has to have a seat and it is all table service. You can walk in off the street but tables are allocated on first come, first served basis, so it is best to book in advance, particularly if you want to enjoy some outstanding music.
Cocktail to try – The White Lady
30ml Hennessy Cognac, 15ml Grand Marnier, 20ml Giffard Menthe Pastille, 30ml lemon juice, shaken vigorously over ice then poured into a coupe glass that has been decorated with icing sugar. A mix of cocoa and cinnamon decorates the lower part of the bowl with a cherry at the base secured by chocolate ganache.