London’s New Bar OpeningsFrom low-key wine bars to big-deal cocktail spots, these are the new great places to have a drink that you should know about.
It’s all well and good going to a bar ‘where everyone knows your name’ but then chances are they also know about the time you tried to climb out of a window when your Hinge date mentioned marriage. No, sometimes it’s worth mixing things up and heading to somewhere new, exciting, and completely free from memories of hangovers past. That’s where this guide comes in. From shiny, show-stopping cocktail spots in London’s luxury hotels to cool and casual joints that are perfect for a little Thursday night debauchery, these are London’s newest and noteworthy bars.
Gothic Bar, inside King’s Cross’ The Midland Grand Dining Room, could feasibly pass as a set for The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen. The clue’s in the name—everywhere you look there’s crushed velvet, hulking columns, and seats that will be kind to the hundred-odd-year-old vampires that will surely drink here. Closing times range from ‘late’ to ‘a little later’ and there’s a selection of absinthe—so settle in for the long haul. Crucially for winter, the terrace has heaters, blankets, and comfortable armchair seating.
This Brixton cocktail bar might be called Sidechick, but it’s in real danger of becoming a lot of people’s long-term partner. What was a historic pie and mash shop is now a shiny new bar, though some original features like the stone pebble floor have been kept. A remix on a pornstar martini sounds particularly promising as does a fat washed—you heard that right, cholesterol—aged rum with coffee and coconut. Alongside the drinks there’ll be a short food menu inspired by American soul food.
Anytime the word ‘experimental’ is thrown around, images of a Birkenstock clog-wearing chef in a leather apron wielding a foam gun comes to mind. But we can get behind the new spot from Bethnal Green’s Coupette, because Atelier Coupette in Soho is serving a boozy cherry ice cream float with vanilla miso, cultured mascarpone ice cream, and Talisker whisky. Our kind of experimentation. The bar will also serve smaller cocktails at more affordable prices, to give you the chance to explore more of the menu.
photo credit: Matthew Hague
The Waterman’s Arms
A pub with pedigree. The Waterman Arms is reopening after being shuttered for a year, and taking the helm is the former head chef of The Camberwell Arms and the founder of Patty & Bun. But more important than that is the fact that this Barnes pub sits pretty right by the water, so you can sip a pint while looking out over the river.
Wine bar and shop Must & Lees is opening their second location on Warren Street and planning on making the most of having such great neighbours. Visitors will be able to bring food from nearby delis and restaurants to have with their wine, and they’re even planning on pairing some glasses with well-known dishes in the area. That means you can now leave your sofa and eat Honey & Spice’s hazelnut babka with a glass of red outside.
We like to think that James Bond and a leaky-eyed villain could have a Wild Apple cocktail together in this subterranean, speakeasy-style bar before fighting to the death. Nipperkin is hidden beneath 20 Berkley, a modern European restaurant in Mayfair. It might have an adorable name which sounds like a character from The BFG, but this bar serves grown-up cocktails with ingredients like sweet woodruff, and snacks like smoked haddock croquettes.
photo credit: Bar Antoine
Being an adult isn’t changing your sheets once a week, it’s listening to live jazz and drinking a smoky negroni. Bar Antoine, an elegant spot inside Four Seasons Park Lane, gets this. It’s the sister spot to Pavyllon, an impressive modern European restaurant, but you just know Antoine is the one having flings in Marbella and stealing their dad’s Porsche. Expect interesting cocktails and an elevated bar menu that includes teriyaki-marinated burgers and profiteroles with Tahitian vanilla ice cream.
If you can’t beat the Covent Garden crowds, join them. But make sure you have a stein in one hand and a currywurst in the other. Bierschenke is bringing Munich beer hall energy to this massive central London space. There’ll be up to 10 beers on tap, available by the pint or stein, as well as an impressive selection of schnapps.
Larry’s Bar—a new underground cocktail bar in the National Portrait Gallery—has a backstory straight out of an episode of Who Do You Think You Are?. It’s named after Sir Laurence Olivier and it used to be a Victorian coal storage space. There’s a secret entrance hidden on Charing Cross Road and the menu has snacks like Exmoor caviar and lobster rolls. Expect plush, velvet booths and portraits from the gallery’s own collection on the walls.
This is the kind of special relationship we can get on board with. Counter 71 is a restaurant that champions the British Isles, but its downstairs cellar bar, Lowcountry, is all about smoky American whiskey and Southern shrimp and grits prawn toast. Inspired by the chef’s childhood in Alabama and South Carolina, there are Southern-leaning drinks and the house cocktail is a beer with a shot of bourbon or rye on the side.
The team tasked with renovating The Earl of Derby are bringing it back to its original Victorian look. The New Cross spot is music-focused with a jukebox and resident DJ sets on Fridays and Saturdays. And the pub’s restaurant, Gengell’s, serves hearty dishes—a Sunday roast, proper pies, and weekly meat specials.
A brewer, a baker, and a winemaker—the east London fairy tale is alive and well in Forest Gate. Joyau has completed the list of perfect things in the railway arches here, with their wine bar snuggled between Wild Goose Bakery and the Pretty Decent Beer Co. Inspired by travels through France, the bar will serve small plates like pork and duck rillettes as well as lots of natural wine.
Named after a rattan chair sourced from the set of an erotic 70s film, and just a short stumble from sister restaurant, Tehran-Berlin, Emmanuelle was always going to be a good time. The Clerkenwell wine bar is all about small-scale winemakers, long conversations over vintage Camparis, and picking at plates of Iranian and French-style charcuterie as you wonder aloud what that rattan chair has seen.
These Days is an aperitivo bar in an old archway on Bermondsey’s beer mile that’s here to prove there’s life beyond the big orange spritz. Using real fruit and organic wine, their menu has ‘progressive spritzes’ and bar snacks made using produce from St. John Bakery and Neal’s Yard Dairy.
Spey Bar is housed in Browns, a Grade II-listed brasserie in Covent Garden. It’s got a classic art deco style and over 100 whiskies to choose from. With swanky cocktails and Scottish ales, it’s Highland hospitality meets Sean Connery’s Bond.
photo credit: Rebecca Dickson
Zero-waste drinks don’t just mean draining every drop of your bloody mary. Paradise: After Dark sees Sri Lankan spot Paradise in Soho working with distilleries to turn their moody, brutalist restaurant into a bar post-10pm. They’ll serve limited-edition spirits, craft rums, and drinks made from kitchen leftovers.
The team behind Giacco’s have a crowd-pleasing range of Notting Hill pizzerias, coffee roasteries, and cafes to their name—and their newest spot is an Italian wine bar in Highbury. Expect low-intervention wines, fresh pasta, small-batch gelato, and excellent floral arrangements.
The Alligator Bar, at Louie in Covent Garden, has been relaunched as a French-inspired jazz bar with soulful New Orleans touches. It’s open until 2am (even on weekdays) and has a decadent menu that includes lobster rolls and absinthe frappés.
Henny's, as in the owner’s grandfather who was partial to a glass of wine, not henny in the RuPaul’s Drag Race kind of way, has cosy countertop seating, by-the-glass wine options, and Yard Sale on hand to deliver pizza. This new Balham wine bar is ideal for catching up with your nearest and dearest henny—be it your fabulous mate or very chic grandad.
Maybe it’s the eye symbol above the door or the fact that you descend to a basement with red walls, but something about Mama Funki makes you feel like you’re going to have a good time—or be sacrificed. Either way, this new cocktail bar in Camberwell, is serving interesting drinks combinations (like lacto-fermented blackberry cordial and tequila) and just a hint of danger.
We can only imagine the brief for Chateau Denmark’s new baroque bars was: “designed for Dracula by Laurence Llewelyn Bowen”. The two bars—Thirteen and underground bar, dial8—have maximalist golden orbs, a spikey, red ceiling, and all gold everything. They are being positioned as hedonistic spots on Denmark Street, with discrete entrances and curtains screening off private booths.
Like us at a ‘90s party, Mr Fogg’s Pawnbrokers shows an unwavering commitment to its theme. From the artifacts and antiques displayed in glass-fronted cabinets to the Victorian curiosities and Fool’s Gold cocktail you’re sipping, the new spot on Dean Street is an immersive step back in time.
Equal Parts is the new cocktail bar from the team behind Sager + Wilde. A short stroll from Columbia Road, it’s clad in sea-green tiles, lit by candles, and is really, really ridiculously good-looking. Come for coffee and pastries during the day and artichoke-infused negronis in the evening.
The Dorchester has links to James Bond—it’s namechecked in the books and Ian Fleming dined here. Now the Park Lane hotel has named its revamped ground floor bar after 007’s drink of choice. Vesper Bar is suitably glitzy, with touches of green velvet and gold, and its signature drink is, naturally, a vesper martini—shaken, not stirred.
If you walk into a bar and see Liberace’s glittering piano, it really sets the mood to ‘glamour’. And that’s most certainly the theme at Artists’ Bar, another new drinks spot within Park Lane’s The Dorchester hotel. There are shiny, reflective surfaces to easily admire your fabulous self, champagne cocktails to sip, and oysters to snack on.
Humble Grape Crouch End
Crouch End is the latest place where Humble Grape has opened a wine shop, bar, and restaurant. The space is bright and warm, with bottles lining exposed brick walls, and come summer, there’ll be a terrace out front. Like the other five locations around London, tastings and masterclasses will be on offer too.
photo credit: @lateef.photography
Notting Hill is currently home to some of London’s best new restaurants, and there’s a new cocktail bar to check out pre or post dinner. Viajante 87 describes itself as a ‘zero-waste’ bar, with leftovers and off-cuts repurposed and recycled. Expect classics alongside a focus on agave-based cocktails.
For a slice of Portugal in the City, head to Bar 1790. With the exception of a champagne and an English sparkling, the wine list is entirely Portuguese and there’s an extensive selection of port. Enjoy alongside tapas like salt cod croquettes and slivers of ibérico ham.