The British capital’s cocktail scene has rarely, if ever, been brighter. New openings – helmed by fresh-faced twenty-somethings – are pushing the boundaries, and established standards are upping their offerings to compete. Three recently opened spots stand out, one in Hampstead in the north, one in Spitalfields in the east and one bang central in Fitzrovia.
Purple Bar at Sanderson
The first serious London bar to take up the New York-initiated trend of crafting bespoke cocktails, the Fitzrovia spot is fittingly located just 15 minutes by foot from Savile Row, where bespoke began. Reached through a cut-glass purple doorway, the intimate space, which seats just 30 and is draped with silk opera curtains that match its name, has done away with waitresses, meaning each cocktail comes as a result of a consultation with one of the resident mixologists. The same drinks and service are available in the hotel’s Billiard Room, which may be the most attractive space in the design-proud hotel, centred on an antique silver-plated billiard table (which is still functional) and presided over by a massive stained glass wall designed by British artist John Piper in the 1950s.
More at the Purple Bar homepage
Dach & Sons
The ground-floor, American-themed eatery in North London’s Hampstead puts the focus on sliders and hot dogs accompanied by craft beer and whiskey, but the real treat is hidden upstairs. The brainchild of Fluid Movement, the bartender collective behind Purl in Marylebone (2010) and The Worship Street Whistling Shop (2011), the relaxed speakeasy is found behind a door labelled Flat P whose window is papered over with Prohibition day newspapers declaring 'U.S. IS VOTED DRY'. Inside, a gold leaf ceiling (covered over by the previous tenant and revealed late in the renovations) looks on as bartenders craft the molecular-inflected cocktails they are justly acclaimed for, including Mr Hyde’s No 2, a combination of Ron Zacapa 23 rum with homemade cola and chocolate bitters served with Lapsang fog.
Visit the Dach & Sons homepage
Set below the steakhouse’s first location, on Commercial Street in Spitalfields, the former strip club has been denuded of the remnants of its prior life and looks instead as it might have in the 1920s. An alcove tiled with cloudy patterned mirrors sits below a copper ceiling; another wall is given over to polished brass, salvaged from art deco elevator doors; and all throughout a brooding turquoise dominates, offset by the deep blue of the leather banquettes and the teak parquet floor. But here, as upstairs at the restaurant, the main draw can be found on the menus: cocktails are superlative, from classics like the Tobacco Old Fashioned to a rotating list of the bartenders’ creations. And the food, served in small but sufficient proportions, is similarly excellent, particularly the cheeseburger topped with shortrib, the lobster roll and the seven desserts on offer.
Go to the Hawskmoor Spitalfields website