In the cosmopolitan city of London, the choice of cocktail bars is like no other; whether you want chic and sophisticated or authentic and quirky, this buzzing metropolis of ours, will deliver the goods.
This week the London Living team took on the challenge of uncovering London’s most excellent, innovative and unique cocktail bars (we know, we know, it’s a hard job, but someone’s got to do it)
After hours spent trawling the streets of London, followed by a succession of heated debates in the boardroom (aka the bar) we were finally able to agree on a London Living Cocktail Shortlist.
It was a close call!
ABQ is the world’s first immersive molecular cocktail bar where you get to make and infuse your own drinks in an RV (Motorhome). Part of a Hackney Funhouse, you will also find an award-winning sourdough pizzeria (Saint Pizzeria) and Dear Sunny, an Espresso Martini lounge bar.
Customers at ABQ get to work with molecular techniques to ‘cook’ their cocktails. Probably the best bit of the entire experience is that you get to dress up like mad scientists in yellow overalls and goggles. The cocktails have names such as “La Tortuga” or “Dry Walter” (which you will only get if you have watched Breaking bad on Netflix!)
As tequila lovers our personal favourite was La Tortuga; a potent mix of tequila, lime, agave, and orange juice infused with sage and jalapeno, using nitro cavitation as the infusion process. For those that do not drink alcohol, there are of course non-alcoholic options available.
£36 per person gets you 1h 45m in the RV/The Lab which includes cooking/infusing of 3 molecular cocktails (consisting of 1 welcome drink + 2 molecular).
EXPERIMENTAL COCKTAIL CLUB
An ideal date venue, ‘ECC’ isn’t the kind of place you’d expect to find in Chinatown. In fact, it’s not a place that you can find very easily at all! A discrete, unassuming door located at 13A Gerrard Street conceals the bar within, which spans an impressive 3 floors.
If you can get past the ECC security, you will find yourself in a low-lit staircase that leads you up into a lively lounge, complete with minimalist brick walls, mirrored walls, and cut-glass tumblers. You feel as if you’ve stepped back in time and gate-crashed a very cool, arty party. It’s quirky and alternative and the cocktail menu is well, as the name suggests, experimental! You can choose from cocktails such as Stockholm Syndrome, which is a mix of vodka, cumin, dill, lemon zest and Linnie Aquavit and Peychauds bitters, or the Cha Cha Cha, which incorporates Plantation Rum, coconut oil, Albela Cachaca and Limoncello.
A £5 cover charge is payable at the door after 11pm.
13a Gerrard St, London W1D 5PS
THE ROSEWOOD LONDON GIN BAR
For a quintessentially British and more refined cocktail experience we made a beeline to the Rosewood London Gin Bar at Holborn Dining Room, where over 400 gins line the walls, accompanied by a range of 27 branded tonics. In total, guests can treat themselves to one of 14,035 possible gin and tonic pairings from well-known international brands to small-batch, local distillers.
A particular hit with us was a cocktail called The East India Company First Flush Iced Tea, which our attentive bartender told us was ‘a blend of East India Company First Flush Darjeeling and East India Company Dry London Gin, Rose Cordial, topped with Pink Peppercorn tonic water, with lavender and candied ginger’. Created in-house, by expert mixologists, this fragrant tea-infused cocktail takes a lot of forward-planning because the tea leaves need to be steeped in hot water and then left to cool to just the right temperature, before they can be used.
252 High Holborn, London, WC1V 7EN, United Kingdom
Martinez is Soho’s newest members cocktail bar offering cocktail connoisseurs the full exuberant cocktail experience.
An unassuming door leads up to the first-floor lounge overlooking Soho’s iconic Greek Street. Already this bar has made waves, attracted a crowd of fabulous people embarking on exciting Soho adventures. Whilst cocktails lead, they also provide other stimulating drink and food experiences, with an eclectic canopy of music adding colour to the evening.
The people behind the Martinez concept are Maurice Marshall and Max Greco. Maurice is a well-known and highly celebrated individual within the London social scene. His artistic flair and caring nature towards all guests make any moment at Martinez, magical and memorable. Max was born & raised in Calabria, Italy and is a highly celebrated, world-renowned mixologist.
“The Martinez community of individual and eclectic members is what makes the venue special. Our team and membership committee are a reflection of the community we want to grow” Maurice tells us.
Membership to Martinez can be applied for via their website
Martinez, First Floor, 49 Greek Street, London, W1D 4EG
Based in the beating heart of Shoreditch, TT (Tatton &Thompson) Liquor boasts an intimate cellar cocktail bar and a specialist liquor store selling a handpicked selection of bottles, beverages, and specialist equipment.
Looking at it from the street TT Liquor looks nothing more than your average bottle shop, but step inside the former police station and you’ll find a rabbit warren of rooms to explore, with a drinking parlour, a “speakeasy” bar and even a cinema room!
Famous for its molecular cocktail making classes and tasting experiences, the Shoreditch venue also boasts a roof terrace with panoramic views over east London and a bar menu which showcases concoctions such as the BERLIN CALLING; a classic-style spritz that showcases the fruits of the Black Forest, with zesty Grapefruit bitters & Rhubarb & Cardamom soda for a spicy lift and the RUSSIAN CONTRACT; a nice, long refreshing number with a classic Dry Vermouth with aromatic & citrusy ‘Russchian’ Pink Soda to finish it all off.
TT LIQUOR, 17B Kingsland Road, London E2 8AA
Cahoots is a 1940s-themed bar located in the heart of London’s Soho. Set inside an abandoned train station, the scoundrels of this station-speakeasy serve up spiffing cocktails, jolly-good rations, and live swinging entertainment seven days a week. The venue itself is made up of three spaces; The Underground, Ticket Hall & Control Room, plus a large outside seating area. With mismatched furniture and 1940s-style bunting it’s a great spot for sampling the many delicious cocktails on the menu, including the Judy Garland which is mix of Bombay Sapphire gin, Italicus bergamot liqueur, lavender syrup, lemon, topped with Moët & Chandon Impérial Blanc N.V. Champagne.
5 KINGLY STREET, CARNABY, LONDON W1B 5PF
Do you have a favourite spot for cocktails in London? We’d love to hear about it in the comments below…….you never know, maybe one day we’ll bump into you at the bar!
Have a great weekend and remember to always drink responsibly.
The London Living Team