Oh my! Cocktails in London proved to be so drinkably fine. For the cocktail bar suggestions, I must give special thanks to Colin Aspare-appiah, who definitely tapped into the HOBNOB M.O. and made some fantastic suggestions that kept us firmly in the groove.
The Zetter We enjoyed our very first taste of English bubbly, then decided that that would be our drink of choice for late night imbibing once back at the hotel. Try it, you’ll like it! ZETTER HOTEL
Dandelyan This place was over-the-top cool. Having met Ryan Chetiyawardana when he was pushing the envelope with his cocktail menu at the Hudson Hotel in NYC that included custom machinery that extracted essences from plants, herbs, and more strange ingredients, we knew this had to be our first stop on the cocktail course. We were wowed by the creative menu, which was beautifully designed and printed with special vibrant inks, and highlighted offerings into four categories: Faith, Lust, Currency and Rock ‘n’ Roll. The space was large and comfortable, right on the Thames. And with the exotic cocktail concoctions, we knew we hit the trifecta jackpot. The staff could not be more friendly and fun. Our timing was just right—in the course of 10 minutes we had the luck to switch from end of the bar seating to center stage where Aidan Bowie, Enrico Gozato, and Alex Lawrence took care of us mixing drinks and making suggestions for other spots we should try. This is a MUST stop to experience something unique. The balance is absolutely perfect. DANDELYAN
Birdcage Pub Of course we knew we had to check in to a proper pub on the 4-day trek, and this place was our pre-dinner stop on our first night, before Brawn, just a block away. We were charmed by the lovely and audacious Joyce who made sure we—and the rest of the bar—were having fun. The 70s American soundtrack also moved the crowd to participation, with everyone singing along to Tom Petty’s “Don’t have to live like a refugee…” Boisterously fun.
Bar Termini If I lived in London, this place would be a hangout. It was under-the-radar cool and comfortable. A second home. We ended up here after a day of wandering—miles of walking—just wanting some love, and they delivered in every way. We started with their Bellini and an order of charcuterie to assuage our well-deserved hunger. Yes. Once enticed by these offerings, it was suggested we move onto the Spritz Termini (Beefeater Gin, Rhubarb Cordial, Aperol, Prosecco) the house specialty, a perfectly refreshing balance of bitter and lovely rhubarb sweetness. The menu is limited to a few, very-well-crafted choices. By chance, we ran into the maestro himself, Tony Conigliaro, before heading up to Untitled. I am guessing things may have changed at this 25-seat spot after being named Best Bar in London a few weeks ago. So glad we chose to stop here. BAR TERMINI
Untitled Much effort went into experiencing this known entity of cocktailling in Dalston, but we were determined. Friday night we arrived at 12:30 only to be told they were closing. Oh. Darn. So what did we do? Next night arrived again at the same time, only to be greeted with the same result. What is it they say about the definition of insanity? (Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.—Albert Einstein) So, on Sunday, to make sure we would arrive in time, we trekked from Soho’s Bar Termini back there once again (even though we were having dinner in Soho) and it ended up being an excellent time to go. Less populated, we got to chit chat with local sophisticates and got lots of personal attention (which we always like!). Our experience began with an amuse, which appeared as a sliver of something slightly sweet in the shape of a rose petal, meant to cleanse. Both cocktails were stellar, and beautiful to look at, as was the entire minimalist, grey space with gorgeous blowups of beautiful bods. We also opted for bite of food: the pickled radishes shone in hot pink (Fermented Radish With Shiso) and the intense Cured Duck With Liquorice Teriyaki Sauce was just enough to tide us over until our dinner at Brenner’s Tavern. Standouts: The long and wide communal table was a dramatic way to preside over the cocktail offerings. Loved the bust of Greek god Pan which sat at the helm. Tables in the back and a long wall of stools on one side provide more personal spaces. Totally worth the effort! UNTITLED
Ham Yard Hotel When we arrived here, there was some sort of private party having to do with a Le Mans racing car, complete with a specimen on the premises. A group of us met here for pre-dinner drinks, and were rewarded with ample space to maneuver, and a couple of nice snacks. HAM YARD HOTEL
St John Wish we had time enough to include this in our dining repertoire. But we did make it for a nightcap, thus supplying reconassiance for a future night. Was surprised at the bare-bones high-ceilinged cement space, which only added to my curiosity. The bar itself, ranks as the highest I’ve ever stood at. This place is on my to-do list. ST JOHN