It’s been a long lockdown of making your own cocktails - and for some, getting them delivered - but now that the hospitality industry is reopening its doors it means you won’t have to smash another cocktail shaker against the kitchen sink for a while.
If you were wondering where’s open, you’re in luck. DesignMyNight has rounded up the best independent cocktail bars in London now taking bookings for summer and beyond.
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If you have a penchant for quirky and downright weird cocktails, The Gibson is about to become your new best friend. Closing its doors in March and spending lockdown sending out cocktail kits to raise money for the NHS, the Shoreditch watering hole has finally opened for service. The team are taking bookings for Fridays and Saturdays and with a menu of cocktails coming served in anything from green Hulk fists to miniature light bulbs, it’s needless to say booking ahead is advisable.
Homeboy hasn’t been around long but it’s already made a big name for itself thanks to several accolades. Promising modern day Irish hospitality in the heart of Islington, this homely nook has a cocktail menu reflective of its roots and heritage. The Taoiseach is a balanced mix leading with Redbreast 12 Potstill Irish Whiskey, but you can’t go wrong with the Tea And A Biscuit number. It’s a bold and brave blend of Roe & Co Irish Whiskey, Benedictine, Barry’s Irish Tea, clarified milk and Hobnob syrup. Taking the biscuit? Not this time.
Heads + Tails
West Hampstead has a few gems up its sleeve and Heads + Tails happens to be one of them. This gorgeous cocktail bar is split across two floors, the first floor (Heads) focussing on gin and vodka twists with the lower floor (Tails) placing an emphasis on darker spirits, like rum and whisky. If you’d like to feel the searing sun on your skin while you sip your hand-crafted cocktail, that won’t be an issue. This trendy bar has an alfresco suntrap where you can lap up the rays.
Swift has built up its reputation amongst imbibers thanks to an impressive collection of world-class awards, and a dedication to changing menus seasonally - each time carrying across its most successful creations. With plenty of hand sanitiser in tow, Swift has opened up its doors for bookings, and this time it has the addition of outside seating. Shaking everything from spritzes and summer cup specials to the ever-popular Sgroppino - that’s a refreshing mix of lemon sorbet, prosecco and Italicus - mark this spot as a Soho-must.
Inspired by Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Little Bat is sure to bring some nostalgia to your next night out in north London. This Islington cocktail den is decked out with curious works of art and large comfy sofas but it’s the food and drink menu that make this neighbourhood joint so popular. It has a brunch menu available every weekend with bottomless espresso martinis for £25, an entire section dedicated to classic cocktails, alongside a few twists for adventurous types.
If you’re not entirely comfortable with jetting away just yet, not to worry - there’s a chance to stay put and experience a slice of France in London. Taking inspiration from Calvados in France, this cosy Bethnal Green hideaway is responsible for some of the capital’s best drinks; the rhubarb white negroni and Champagne piña colada being two of them. Now open for bookings, it’s the perfect excuse to ditch your couch and venture out for the evening.
Soho is packed with brilliant bars but if you’re looking for one that’s hidden off the beaten track, Basement Sate is where you need to go. The discreet basement bar is tucked away behind a glossy red door and it’s the ideal place for a catch-up or a romantic date night. Skip down its rickety staircase and you’ll find a bar that pairs quirky desserts that feature everything from tonka bean marshmallow to popping candy and a collection of cocktails muddled with the likes of Champagne syrup and mezcal smoked tea.
Boasting diamond chandeliers, vintage trinkets and private alcoves with plush leather seating, you’d swear Purl was plucked right from the pages of a 1920s novel. This secret speakeasy in Marylebone is back open for bookings and thanks to its spacious booths, it’s the ideal destination for a boozy outing with your housemates. It also has a new menu with lots of unusual drinks echoing the long lost prohibition era. Will you find anywhere else like it? Not likely.
The Little Orange Door
The Little Orange Door was set to open in March but - after what feels like ten years of lockdown - the ribbon has finally been cut, with the team now taking bookings. This kooky spot in Clapham Common is themed around a London flatshare, with a book-filled library, a cosy sitting room and a conservatory with a botanically-inspired gin bar. Bottomless brunch is on the cards for its weekend shenanigans but the cocktails are just as impressive, with an entire section dedicated to iconic movies like Zoolander and Love Actually.
Keystone Crescent is one of the coolest bars in King’s Cross but you need to be a member to gain entry. Thankfully, registering for membership is a doddle and for only £35 a year, it’s more than worth it. Each month you’ll receive a special code to gain access to the basement bar and be invited to exclusive events. It’s only open on Fridays and Saturdays for the time being but closing time isn’t until 4am. Chin chin.
For more info on the best cocktail bars in London and across the UK, visit DesignMyNight.com or follow on Instagram and Facebook; @DesignMyNight.
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