London! You know how to quench a thirst.
My Best of 2016 series continues with a taste of my favourite bars and pubs in London.
For a look at my favourite places to drink beyond the M25, check out my last post in this series. And keep an eye out for more ‘ best of’ lists to come.
Please note, this list merely reflects how I chose to spend my time during the year and is comprised of well established and brand new venues as well as businesses that are somehow related to where work and play took me.
Best London Bars
The Langham London, Portland Place, W1B 1JA
From my angle, this year’s switchover to newly appointed Head Bartender, Gabor Fodor, appeared to have been seamless. But we’ll see when his new drinks menu is revealed early in 2017. Until then, the elegant Artesian still lives up to the hype and tales of past glories.
This is the third year in a row that Artesian made the ‘best of’ list.
7 Old Compton Street, W1D 5JE
Whether you’re passing near Old Compton Street in the early morning in need of a quick shot of espresso (for a mere quid) or you’re looking for a cosy place to sip sophisticated cocktails well into the night – with a delectable assortment of other reasons to drop by stretching across the rest of the day – this tiny (seats 25) bar brought to you by cocktail mastermind Tony Conigliaro (of The Bar with No Name fame) and extreme espresso geek Marco Arrigo (Head of Quality at illy Coffee) is an ideal setting.
This is the second year in a row that Bar Termini made the ‘best of’ list.
86 Queensway, W2 3RR
A boozy island paradise awaits your discovery at The Beachcomber, a basement bar just a jaunt away from Bayswater Station. It’s a great destination for rummy cocktails and Creole Caribbean bar bites and small plates.
17 Manette Street, W1D 4AS
For all the things the other bars in this list ain’t … for its utter lack of pretence (and hipsters, and food snobs) … for its poor-folk friendly “beer ‘n whisky” happy hour, for its especially convenient Soho location … and most importantly for its melt your face off jukebox of mostly metal and plenty of hard rock classics, Cro-Bar is more often than anywhere else my first choice for a drink when drifting about Central London.
This is the second time that Cro-Bar made the ‘best of’ list.
Pink Chihuahua at El Camion
Basement of El Camion, 25-27 Brewer Street, W1F 0RR
Downstairs at Soho Mexican restaurant, El Camion, is its members only basement bar, the Pink Chihuahua. Don’t worry though; membership doesn’t seem to be too exclusive. I mean they let me join. I’m glad they did too as I’ve enjoyed a selection of sips from one of London’s finest cocktail menus since. Case in point: the Mezcal Sazerac (Alipus San Baltazar Mezcal, Absinthe, and Peychaud Bitters), which might be the best cocktail I’ve had all year.
The London Edition, 10 Berners Street, W1T 3LF
No punches pulled at this sophisticated reservations-only bar at the back of The London Edition.
Sager + Wilde Paradise Row
250 Paradise Row, E2 9LE
Head Bartender Marcis Dzelzainis doings behind the bar are inspired and original. Case in point: his Olive Oil Old Fashioned. The setting where ya get to sip his creations is comfy and attractive.
Shepherd Market Wine House
21-23 Shepherd Market, W1J 7PN
Bravo to Ben Van de Meutter – manager, buyer, and Head Sommelier at Shepherd Market Wine House – for knowing his stuff and backing it up with enthusiasm and presenting his wares in an approachable manner and in an easy-going and comfortable setting. His friendly Shepherd Market Wine House is everything you (or, at least, I) could ask for of a wine shop. And tucked away in the cosiest of Shepherd Market nooks, it’s an ideal spot for loosing track of everything except what’s in glass and at hand.
Best London Pubs
59 Marylebone Lane, W1U 2NY
How this gem of a boozer on Marylebone Lane averted gentrification or upmarket tinkering is beyond me. Go when the pianist is in for an old fashioned sing-along for pint sloshing at its finest.
The King & Co
100 Clapham Park Road, SW4 7BZ
Down to earth South London pub with a knack for finding some of the city’s best street food traders to takeover its kitchen to the delight of its patrons. The selection of craft beer demands deep admiration and respect.
The King’s Arms
25 Roupell Street, SE1 8TB
The King’s Arms is a cheery and atmospheric Georgian pub with an unfaultable selection of Real Ales and craft beers – and a kitchen celebrated for its authentic Thai dishes.
5 Harefield Road, SE4 1LW
This low key Brockley gastropub is as neighbourly and relaxed as anywhere I’ve had a drink this year.
99 Fleet Street, EC4Y 1DE
This historic City tavern has a singular air about it. There’s gorgeous natural light streaming in from a glass ceiling in the main bar area, a working fireplace, and original features from 1897 such as marble bar, dark oak paneling, and a series of original Punch and Judy themed paintings. Craft beer menu and ginormous gin list both get big thumbs up as does the mighty menu of savoury homemade pies.
This is the second year in a row that Punch Tavern made the ‘best of’ list.
Tapping the Admiral
77 Castle Road, NW1 8SU
This Kentish Town classic seems to be everything a pub should be, with everything a pub should provide: a smart line up of Real Ales and craft beers, beautiful Victorian furnishings, a ragtag assemblage of stools, tables and chairs, a wood-burning fireplace, a cat, lots of board games and assorted clutter.
Ye Olde Rose & Crown
53-55 Hoe Street, E17 4SA
A warm and welcoming Walthamstow watering hole, Ye Olde Rose & Crown is a summation of why I like going to the pub. The ambience is buzzing but relaxed. The people (patrons and staff) are pleasant. There’s a quality assortment of beers and plenty of seats. Double win: go when Peppe’s Pizza comes round with its mobile wood-fired oven. Triple win: go when there’s Peppe’s and live music. There’s a theatre upstairs I’ve yet to experience. But if it’s anything like everything else this pub has going for it, I’m sure it’s great.
More of the Best of 2016 to follow!