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The 8 Finest Cocktail Bars In London

8 Comments - By Vesper Black

As the founder of Vesper Black you might make the assumption that I like to indulge in the occasional sip of a cocktail.

Naturally the fact that we christened the company partly in honour of our favourite classic martini cocktail (also partly in appreciation of the sophisticated woman wearing a little black dress) is purely coincidental.

That is a complete lie.

I adore them and so do most of the Vesper Black team.

Making a truly great cocktail is a skill and an art form to be respected. The ‘mixologist’ which sounds like a surgeon, is actually a name for someone who makes cocktails.

His or her job is to balance the flavours and the amount of spirit in each glass, this is a precise craft and for the seasoned cocktail connoisseur it is a shooting offense to make a martini too wet or dry, depending on preference of course.

If you are paying well for such a drink then you are well within your rights to expect it to be created with craft and care otherwise you have the right to remove the bar tender’s testicules in retribution, or at least a refund. Your choice…

So if you are looking for a real cocktail and not the standard San Antonio Sex on Beach crap or the so called high-end ‘Del Boy style’ overly fruity nonsense that a certain Dover Street Nightclub attack your gut and wallet with, then here is Vesper Black’s guide to the best cocktail bars in London town.

Please note: Vesper Black’s office and also our apartment is in the centre of town, we are very lazy and don’t like to walk far! So if you had the amazingly stupid idea of opening a wonderful cocktail experience in Zone 6 then let us know or better still move it to central tomorrow.

In no particular order…

Aqua

Situated across the road from the famous Movida Club, this mammoth bar comprising of the main bar, two terraces, a restaurant serving fine Japanese food and a quiet second bar is really LA in London.

Aqua bar is absolutely packed at the weekends it is perfect place to hang out with friends before the nightclub allowing you to really get in the vibe with a fantastic cocktail. The cool stick dark decor supported with candle light makes it a wonderful venue for a intimate yet cool first date too.

Floridita

Set in the heart of Soho and somewhat of a slight tourist trap, El Floridita has a high-end feel and really avoids any pretentiousness. It emulates the 1930s Cuban style of the El Floridita, which is the original bar in Havana that opened its doors in 1817 and was a popular hangout of Hemingway and F Scott Fitzgearld.

Some of the original cocktails on the current menu were inspired by the people who frequented the venue. We love the smoky menu of classic Cuban and American classics and the modern twist the mixoligists have created today.

You will see people from 18 to 75 dancing Salsa to the live band. Wonderful to watch and gives it a real Cuban feel.

The London Cocktail Club

Set just off Charlotte St (2min walk from our HQ) this basement bar is a real treat with a simple but well delivered menu and great settings. The London cocktail bar has a unique decor and friendly staff who are innovators of the mixology craft and happy to whisk you up a cocktail on request.

ECC (Experimental Cocktail Club)

Think Madmen, Don Drapper and Old Fashioned.

You wouldn’t know this place existed if we didn’t tell you. The Experimental Cocktail Club is situated in the middle of Chinatown with all but a classic stylish 1950’s American feel really gives you a buzz and feeling of an age gone by.

The cocktails are wonderful and classic with a twist. I particularly like the classic martini (even with gin as opposed to vodka) the Saint Germain cocktail and old cuban are a must. The door staff are somewhat cold but dress smart and smile for the experience you require.

Jewel

A total tourist trap being only a 15 second walk from Piccadilly Circus tube entrance, never the less Jewel Bar has a cocktail menu to compete with the best.

Some really well balanced cocktails and great service to match. This bar is on the list as it’s looked down upon by cocktail snobs however it does offer a very well thought out list with some original finds. The apple Martini is particularly good.

Zenna Bar

An up and coming bar that really cares about service and mixing the perfect cocktail.

The owner of Zenna bar is very keen to show off his magic so please feel free to challenge him and he will deliver. They have exceptional service and have cosy coves that are perfect for private party with around 20 people.

The bar is well stocked and full of quality (and not always overpriced) spirits. The House cocktails are original and go down a little too easy. This is perfect place to wonder over to after work or as a great place to start the night off in.

Milk and Honey

A classic and one of the finest in London for a cocktail. Milk and Honey members status make it somewhat tricky to get in without a prior booking but as a guest of ours, we are sure something can be sorted out for you.

Shoreditch House

A real hot spot in the centre of London.

Shoreditch House is a member club of the industry, so not always easy to get into. You have to be with a member, part of a special party or even at a special VB night coming in 2012.

By far the place where the VB team hang out most and my personal favourite. The staff on the 5th Floor are exceptional and I would avoid the roof top’s hectic nature and head to the bar where the tenders are all experts in the art of cocktail making.

They will make you ANYTHING and will put a wonderful twist on your favourite. The Negroni and Tequila Old Fashioned is one to ask for as well as The Gay Mafia.

Other Very Worth While Cocktail Bars

Of course you can hit the stylish W hotel, Mayfair hotel, Soho Hotel, Sanderson bar or Nobu for a great classic Martini and they are all credible cocktail bars in London. However our above choices add a special twist with and superb edge to your cocktail experience.

We’d love to invite you to one of our cocktail events and at our pre-parties were we always get the leading cocktail brain to create something special and stylish for Vesper Black guests. So do join our network and we we’ll keep you in mind for our next gathering.

If you have any questions you can drop me a line on peter@vesperblack.com.

Enjoy and keep rolling.

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Vesper Black

We are affiliated with film, fashion and media, which has formed a unique boutique lifestyle brand. We offer warm, friendly and sophisticated events.

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8 Comments so far
  1. neill

    My favourite local at the moment is Montgomery’s Place, but Match Bar is the classic cocktail venue of London – it’s the creation place of classics like the bramble and vodka espresso and needs to be on every afficianado’s list. Count me in if you visit either!

    Saturday 31st December 2011, 12:38 am Reply
    • Shelly

      @neill
      The Bramble and Espresso Martini were both created about a decade before Match bar opened. The creator was Dick Bradsell, who was involved in the opening of Match Bar EC1 and Margaret St. Maybe that’s where the link is.
      My favourite’s in London at the moment are: Rules, Cafe Pacifico, Calloh Callay, Pinchitos

      Thursday 5th January 2012, 8:54 am Reply
  2. Tim Kelly

    The London Cocktail Club. This bar was started with passion and desire. A passion for cocktails, a burning desire to make a mark in an industry swamped with mediocrity. I toast JJ and his crew, from a distance, sadly, but my heart is there, never-the-less.

    Mr Likely
    (aka Tim Kelly)

    Tuesday 3rd January 2012, 12:52 pm Reply
  3. mal

    U Missed Crazy Bear. Still one of the best @ Whitfield St and a good group product as a whole..

    Tuesday 3rd January 2012, 12:56 pm Reply
  4. nonflyingiceman

    A couple of different ones from the norm thrown in I grant you. Jewel is a mystery don’t know how that would make any list other than the predictable top ten worst, overpriced bars in London. If you are professing to be the new little black book of cocktails for London then you should be including in a top 8 some of these tremendous venues, 69 Colebrooke Row, Purl, Blue Bar at the Berkeley Hotel, Mayfair, Whistling Shop, The Artesian. To name just a few.

    69 Colebrooke comes complete with its own laboratory and madcap professor who toils for hours over the perfect concoctions. Purl offers libations that are a feast for the eyes and tantalise the tastebuds in true Willy Wonka fashion. Milk & Honey is a classic but a pale pretender to the NY original. ECC is a mixed bag of hits and misses and massively pretentious. Ps. Although LCC Leic Sq is the original and has great charm. the Goodge Street sister venue is where all the magic happens for me. Molecular mixology and cocktail gastronomy takes place here in abundance. Raymond Blanc’s tutelage on show. JJ & James throw an awesome cocktail shindig and everyone is invited every night.

    Wednesday 4th January 2012, 4:46 pm Reply
  5. Drink whisperer

    It is obvious you have not been to SA lately.

    Thursday 25th April 2013, 2:22 am Reply
  6. john

    We gay people are accustomed to being made to feel uncomfortable in certain establishments. But that doesn’t make it right.

    Monday 12th August 2013, 10:40 pm Reply
  7. sallenaLopez

    Great place for make fun

    Tuesday 17th December 2013, 9:36 am Reply
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