One of the great joys of traveling is having a cocktail at an amazing bar. Sure, a good night out with a bunch of nocturnal mates can be fun but discovering a brand new hangout spot always helps to make things a little more exciting. Each bar has a story. A bit of mystery is cool. And every city has its secrets. When you first arrive in a new city it’s sometimes a good idea to explore and get lost. You discover things even locals haven’t found. Those little backstreet, hard to find but life-changing bars known only by the discoverer. If you’re a true bar aficionado, then check out the 8 awe-inspiring watering holes that should be on your bucket list. They’re not all secret or even hidden; mostly just unassuming and amazing.
1. 68 & Boston
68 and Boston is a new wine and cocktail bar opening on Greek Street. Found over two floors, there are two bars: 68, is an all day wine bar on the ground floor, and Boston, a cocktail bar located on the first floor.
It is being opened by three leading names in nightlife, wines and cocktails: Eric Yu of The Breakfast Group, whose other successful West End outlets include Opium and The Social; Martin Malley, owner of Planet of the Grapes; and Luca Cordiglieri, formerly bar manager at China Tang at The Dorchester and also current President of the UK Bartenders’ Guild.
The all-day wine bar will feature a main list of quality wines, all priced at £20 per bottle. The late night cocktail bar will offer classics and originals from £10.
Add: 5 Greek Street, Soho, London, W1D 4DD
2. Three Six Six
The St John’s Hill outpost of Three Six Six is located in the heart of bustling Battersea, within easy walking distance of Clapham Junction station. As well as the venue’s sister site in Earlsfield, the bar has won a catalogue of accolades for it’s innovative and exuberant cocktails, and this award-winning mentality shines through for all to see at this lively South West London nightspot.
Guests can expect to encounter a long list of original and hand-crafted cocktails. Three Six Six chooses it’s network of spirits based exclusively on taste as opposed to reputation, and has a forward-thinking approach to cocktail making. Using truly unique ingredients – think parmesan, parma ham, beetroot shrub and even alfalfa sprouts – Three Six Six whips up a whole host of interesting concoctions that will have you coming back time and time again. And as if these outlandish cocktails weren’t quirky enough – they’re served in anything from glasses covered in brown paper, science beakers and 50’s sugar shakers with garnishes including crickets, balsamic pearls and corn on the cob.
Three Six Six have a great appreciation for music, they’re big fans of house and have regular DJ slots every Thursday, Friday and Saturday to dance to whilst you enjoy your specially made drinks, so kick back and enjoy.
Add: 126 St John’s Hill, London SW11 1SL, United Kingdom
3. East London Liquor Company
This ultra cool distillery has been going for the last two years, so you might be familiar with their gin, vodka, or rum. The bar in the distillery however, has remained fairly under-the-radar, and this is the year you should discover it. Not only is it beautiful, with soft lighting, distressed wood, and two stunning copper stills as a backdrop, it also has a cracking cocktail menu, a bottle shop outside, and some of the cheapest high-quality gin around (£18 a bottle).
Add: Unit GF1, 221 Grove Rd, London E3 5SN, United Kingdom
4. Seymour’s Parlour
In 2015 the Zetter Townhouse opened its second cocktail bar, Seymour’s Parlour. Tony Conigliaro (of 69 Colebrook) is the mixology wizard behind the drinks, so you know you’re in safe hands, and the plush setting is everything you’d expect from the Zetter Group. If the original Zetter is your eccentric great aunt who gives you free range of her country house, Seymour’s is the slightly more wicked uncle. Defs worth a visit.
Add: 28-30 Seymour St, London W1H 7JB, United Kingdom
5. Cocktail Trading Company
With gorgeous characteurs of TV, music and film figures from the past adorning the walls and ’70s bar stools that look like they could be from the original Fawlty Towers set, Great Marlborough Street’s Cocktail Trading Company cuts a fine, if surreal, shape on central’s drinking scene.
Up at the bar, a never-ending, experimentally and seasonally-variant cocktail menu will make every trip different, backed by the splendour of mismatching décor in the 50-cover downstairs bar. As well as niche photos, vinyls hang from the walls and jars, full of nik-naks, stand proudly around the room like collections from lost great minds.
Add: 68, Bethnal Green Rd, London E1 6GQ, United Kingdom
This is the new bar from Nightjar. The space is incredible for one, like entering another world, and the cocktails are inspired by far-flung adventures. If you can’t have a far-flung adventure this year, Oriole is pretty much the next best thing.
Add: Smithfield Markets, E Poultry Ave, London EC1A 9LH, United Kingdom
7. The Gibson Bar
The Gibson cocktail was created in the first decade of the 1900s and, like all true classics, it has withstood the test of time. The cocktail just like a traveller, journeying through space and time. The Gibson bar pays homage to the cocktail’s journey. The bar is a time machine and through the selection of your drink, you are in control of your destination. Embarking from Edwardian London, your first stop might be a spring evening in the 1920s or a winter’s night of a time yet to come… all in the time it takes to mix a drink.
Add: 44 Old St, London EC1V 9AQ, United Kingdom
8. Gremio De Brixton
A bar in a Spanish tapas joint, this place is perfect if you want to cut back and chill with a few glasses of excellently priced sangria. The mojitos are cracking too, and you’ll find four different kinds of G&T on the menu. Make this your new Friday night spot.
Add: Effra Rd, London SW2 1JF, United Kingdom