Leon Dalloway of Shake, Rattle & Stir is well-versed in the best bars and top-notch cocktails around London. After joining him for his London Gin Journey, we asked him to tell us about his top 5 London cocktail bars.
Claridge's, London’s Art Deco jewel, is one of the most recognised hotels in the world. Position yourself in Claridge's Bar and you’ll feel you’re in the midst of the Roaring Twenties: unique vintage Champagne is often flowing, cold and dry, while the hotel's exquisitely rare liquor collection, including a 1951 Macallan, is enough to make any enthusiast purr. Pop across the corridor and you’ve made your way into the Fumoir, an indulgent room of burgundy and black velvet with a scintillating service of classic cocktails.
My Order? "Arctic Clarity" Martin Miller’s Gin stirred with alpine liqueur, an accent of Laphroig and grapefruit bitters served with a glacier of white needle tea infused Icelandic ice and aromatised with cedarwood. By yours truly and Andreas Cortes of Claridge's Bar.
The American Bar in the iconic Savoy Hotel remains a promised land for drink lovers around the world. Since 1893 when the American Bar opened its doors there have been just ten head bartenders. An esteemed position held by bartending greats such as Harry Craddock (the scribe behind the Savoy Cocktail Book and the palette behind the White Lady) and now Erik Lorincz (yes he has mixed Martinis for 007 at world premieres). Grand, glorious and yet remarkably charming, it's a statesman among London bars. There’s even an American Bar museum on site if you want to explore its wealth of history.
My Order? "The Green Park" BombaySapphire Gin rattled with celery bitters, slapped fresh basil, lemon juice, sugar syrup and whites to create a luscious volume. A global award winner by Erik Lorincz.
From the Martini shutters outside to the dark, subdued interior, this wonderful Islington cocktail den is wholly unassuming. It’s only when you notice the bartenders are in pristine white lab coats that you get a hint of what’s really going on. The drinks menu is delightfully simplistic on the eye and yet the recipes are nothing of the sort, thanks to the master at work here: Tony Conigliaro. This bar uses molecular equipment to craft the drinks and all manner of machines ensure the customer gets a sensual masterpiece in a glass.
My Order? "The Barbershop Fizz" Pine-infused Beefeater Gin thrown together with lime juice, birch and vanilla syrup, a handful of patchouli mint leaves then topped with Soda. Finished with a posh straw and a lime zest. By Tony Conigliaro.
Thanks to the shared vision of head bartenders Alex Kratena and Simone Carporale, The Artesian has been voted the World’s Best Bar for two years running. The rum is stacked high and the drinks are practically a spiritual experience. Every detail has been thought through and there’s even a signature 'Langham' aroma spritzing from the walls to create a feeling of luxury. The menu is a spin chart of colour-coded flavour information and every cocktail has a unique personality.
My Order? "Unfinished Business" Woodford Reserve Bourbon and Martini Rosso are stirred down with bitters and galangal all aged in a leather bag to create rich and aromatic loveliness.
This hidden gem houses the Square Mile's only working gin distillery, and you'd be hard pushed to find a better drinking establishement in which to celebrate the spirit synonymous with London. Whilst you sip on an ice cold martini you can watch the copper stills glisten as they work their magic, producing City of London Dry Gin. Then focus your attention on the one hundred-and-thirty-plus gins behind the bar, make your selection and pair it with one of the bar's 6 tonic waters, no doubt you'll receive the perfect garnish. COLD Bar is well and truly a gin-lovers' nirvana.
Mr Order? "London Negroni" City of London Dry Gin mixed with Kamm & Sons Ginseng Spirit and Sacred Sweet Vermouth. A classic reinvented using products only from London. By Nathan Brown and Lewis Hayes the MDs of The London Bar Consultants.