This autumn heralds some of the most exciting new bar offerings we’ve seen in years. Whether it’s the much-anticipated launch of the Painter’s Room at Claridge’s, the Beaumont bar’s glamourous revamp or the speakeasy-style offering from the team behind Kricket, the capital is abuzz with great new places to visit for cocktails. Here, we’ve rounded up all the hottest New London bars to have on your radar this season.
The Best New London Bars
For the first time in over a decade, The Connaught is adding to its well-loved roster of bars, with a new addition to sit alongside it’s renowned signature bar, rated the best in the world. Enter the Red Room, an elegantly designed space that revolves around striking red artworks by four female visionaries: celebrated modern artist Louise Bourgeois, neo-conceptual creative Jenny Holzer, LA-based photographer Trina McKillen, and pioneering Vietnamese voice Tia-Thuy Nguyen.
Hidden away behind a velvet-curtained doorway that leads off the hotel’s Champagne Room, the vibe here couldn’t be more different to the sultry glamour of the main bar, with its wood-panelled walls and dark leather. Designed by Maybourne Group favourite Bryan O’Sullivan, the room has the feel of a supremely chic collector’s living room, with a soft palette of creams, blush pinks and pearl blues, and the usual club chairs swapped out for an eclectic mix of furniture. The room centres around the bar, made out of dazzling pink onyx, and the red-veined marble fireplace, above which sits Bourgeois’ ‘I Am Rouge’ painting.
As a further nod to the bar’s name, wine is the main focus on the drinks’ menu, with a significant collection of the world’s best reds carefully curated by the hotel’s Director of Wine, Daniel Manetti. The space will act as a showcase for the hotel’s legendary wine cellar, which features 3,000 different labels and over 30,000 bottles. Alongside a revolutionary Coravin system that makes it possible to serve rare vintages by the glass (including the world’s most famous Merlot, a 1994 Petrus) there is a capsule list of six cocktails, created by Director of Mixology Agostino Perrino and inspired by the bar’s wine selection, which will change seasonally as the wine list evolves.
The Connaught, Carlos Place, Mayfair, London, W1
When the Art Deco jewel in London’s hotel crown has a new launch, the city sits up and takes note, so it’s hardly surprising that the capital is abuzz with news of Claridge’s latest addition, the Painter’s Room. Joining the iconic Claridge’s Bar and their glamorous Fumoir, the new bar pays homage to the hotel’s rich artistic history, with a design inspired by the space’s former use in the 1930s, when it was covered in murals by the renowned artist Mary Lea.
Designed by Bryan O’Sullivan (the man behind the much-lauded bar and terrace at the Berkeley) and inspired by old photos from the archives, the Painter’s Room is a vision in blush-pink onyx, centred around a statement bar elegantly carved out of the stone and offset by a peach and cream-coloured glass skylight. London-based artist Annie Morris has created a one-off installation running across the entire bar, which features whimsically sketched characters in jaunty top hats dancing across the walls, as well as her first ever stained-glass piece. Her designs also appear on the menus as well as being monogrammed onto the bar team’s traditional painters’ jackets, which were chosen in a rich blue inspired by the late American fashion photographer Bill Cunningham (as always, it’s all about the details at Claridge’s).
The cocktail-focused drinks menu was designed by the hotel’s new Director of Mixology, Nathan McCarley O’Neill (formerly of the Nomad in New York, where he was named the World’s Most Experimental Bartender), and has drawn inspiration from the artistic haunts of Provence and Italy, divided into four chapters: Light, Interpretations, Complex and Clean. Focusing on ingredients of the highest quality, the standout drink is the Saint Remy – a variation on a martini – which was inspired by Van Gogh’s Almond Blossom and is mixed with quince and apple.
Claridge’s, Brook Street, Mayfair, London, W1
When university pals Will Bowlby and Rik Campbell, the duo behind Indian-inspired restaurant group Kricket, first opened up in a shipping container in Brixton in 2015, they set the modern Indian dining scene alight with their innovative small plates. Now they look set to the same to London’s cocktail scene with the launch of their first ever bar, Soma.
Named after the Hindu Moon God and tucked away under the original Kricket restaurant on Denman Street in Soho, the subterranean hideaway is a modern take on the basement speakeasy, with minimalist interiors led by architecture studio Bureau Cake in collaboration with east London-based interior designer Max Radford. A nine-metre-long stainless-steel bar takes pride of place, surrounded by a single-track curtain which acts as a nod to the area’s theatrical history. Off the main space there’s an intimate lounge room, complete with low tables and burnt orange sofas, which can be closed off for private events.
The menu has been devised by Kricket’s Head of Beverage, Will Rogers, and Soma Bar Manager, Angelos Bafas (formerly of Aqua Shard and ranking in the Top Five Bartenders in the world), with a ‘less is more’ ethos, letting seasonal ingredients and high-quality spirits and spices take centre stage. Familiar cocktails are served with an Indian twist, like the Chaat Margarita, made with Chaat Masala, gooseberry salt and kumquat, and the Mooli Martini, mixed with pickled mooli and curry leaf vermouth. Embracing Soho’s spontaneity and its status as London’s nightlife hub, tables at the 23-cover bar will mostly be kept for walk-ins (though bookings will be available for tables of six or more) and will stay open until 3am on Friday and Saturday.
Soma, 12-14 Denman Street, Soho, London, W1
While many hotels were devastated by the enforced closures brought about by the Coronavirus pandemic last year, The Beaumont instead decided to turn it to their advantage and use it as an opportunity to call in leading New York-based designer Thierry Despont and London-based architects Reardon Smith to give the hotel an imaginative refresh. The result is a brand-new bar, restaurant and al fresco dining terrace.
During the revamp the hotel’s Le Magritte bar has been moved to a cosy new spot, just off the lobby, and been made over with fresh interiors and furnishings inspired by the American Bars that took 1920s London and Paris by storm. Lined with rich Fiddleback Cherrywood and hung with an eclectic collection of early 20th century paintings and photographs, the focal point is the impressive leather-edged ebony bar, behind which hangs the original René Magritte oil painting, Le Maitre d’École, after which the bar is named.
The intimate space is run by newly-appointed Bar Manager Antonino Lo Iacono (previously of Dukes and Mark’s Club in Mayfair), who serves up expertly-made classic cocktails inspired by Twenties New York, with a particular emphasis on bourbons and American whiskies – think refashioned Old Fashioneds and New York Sours. Alongside the bar sits the chic new sheltered terrace, which overlooks tranquil Brown Hart Gardens. With 1920s-style rattan armchairs and tables hidden away amongst lush greenery, it’s the perfect spot to wile away an afternoon working your way through the drinks menu.
Le Magritte at The Beaumont, 8 Balderton Street, Mayfair, London, W1
Fitzrovia’s drinking scene just got a lot livelier thanks to the arrival of Bandra Bhai, a raucous speakeasy-style bar inspired by 1970s India. Hidden away under Mortimer Street’s bustling Pali Hill restaurant, the cocktail bar has been designed for those in the know, only accessible via a secret door concealed in a concrete wall downstairs. Once inside you’ll be greeted by gloriously kitsch décor, inspired by the old smuggling dens of Seventies India – think fringed lampshades, garishly patterned wallpaper and animal-print cushions.
By contrast, the drinks menu offers a relatively pared-back gentle rework of old favourites, with the addition of modern touch points from India. Helmed by Head Barman Dav Eames (formerly of George’s Bar at the Gilbert Scott), the menu of 12 cocktails features highlights including the Rajdoot vodka martini, which has been updated with a heady infusion of cassia bark, samphire and sage, and their take on the traditional Sidecar, mixed with pineapple, cardamom, almond and celery. And while the menu might be rooted in the classics, many of the drinks still come with a healthy dose of fun – like the Disco Inferno, which is mixed with Belvedere vodka and chilli spiced mango and served in a glittering gold disco ball.
Bandra Bhai, 79-81 Mortimer Street, Fitzrovia, London, W1
The spirit of 1950s Cuba comes to London courtesy of Bar La Rampa, which has opened on Market Place, a stone’s throw from Oxford Circus. Designed as a love letter to the colourful heritage and culture of Havana, the spot brings authentic Cuban cocktails and live music to the heart of central London.
Named after Calle 23, one of the best-known streets in Havana’s vibrant Vedado region, the bar’s drinks menu unsurprisingly centres around rum, and was designed by top bartender Marcis Dzelzainis, who used to head up the bar at Sager + Wilde, 69 Colebrooke Row and Dandelyan. Drawing on drinks that originated in Cuba during the Twenties through to the Fifties, mojitos and daiquiris are the main focus, including the Papa Doble, which is a take on Ernest Hemingway’s tipple of choice, and Jennings Cox, named after the inventor of the daiquiri. Alongside the drinks there’s a selection of Cuban small plates, inventively reimagined by Ana Gonçalves and Zijun Meng of TĀTĀ Eatery, featuring picadillo empanadas and Cubano sandwiches made with pork belly and raclette cheese.
The interiors have been carefully honed by London-based studio A-nrd with the help of Cuban American architect Hermes Mallea – one of the world’s leading authorities on Cuban design – with a dark wood and rattan bar providing the focal point. Cuban art lines the walls and many of the fixtures and fittings, including all the lights, have been sourced from the country. The real cherry on the cake here is the live music courtesy of the house band, which has the crowd cha-chaing all night long.
Bar La Rampa, 7-8 Market Place, Oxford Circus, London, W1
After opening the original Sucre in Buenos Aires in 2001, award-winning bartender Renato ‘Tato’ Giovannoni and renowned Latin American chef Fernando Trocca have decamped to Soho to open the latest iteration of the acclaimed restaurant, with a big-hitting subterranean bar, Abajo, thrown in to boot.
Meaning ‘underground’ or ‘below’, Abajo reflects the clandestine movement of bars and clubs in Buenos Aires during the 1980s, when an explosion of colour, culture and music followed a dark period of military rule. That brightness is reflected in a menu of quirkily colourful highballs, from the Something Red, a play on the country’s iconic Amaro and Cola featuring amaro, Maraschino liqueur, cherries and pink grapefruit soda, to the Something Blue, a mix of Giovannoni’s own brand of gin with mezcal, blue spirulina and tonic. The signature drink is the aptly named Everything Was Black and White Until, a cross between an Irish coffee and an espresso martini that appears to be monochrome until it’s spritzed with a splash of graffiti colour.
The interiors are no less dramatic, with no back bar or wall between guests and bartenders – instead, a narrow bar slices through a standing area flanked by high stools and exposed brick walls, designed to foster a spirit of togetherness.
Abajo, 47B Great Marlborough Street, Soho, London, W1
While fine wines may not immediately spring to mind when you think of east London’s Haggerston, that’s all about to change with the arrival of Planque, a self-styled ‘wine drinkers’ clubhouse’ that opens there later this month. Part wine bar, part restaurant, part members’ club and cellar, this is set to be the destination of choice for a new generation of wine lovers looking to sample natural and low intervention wines.
Founded by avid wine collector Jonathan Alphandery and his art director wife Bianca Riggio, the duo’s aim was to create a place in London where people could hang out, try and buy wines, as well as store them, without all the stuffiness that tends to accompany that process. A stellar team has been assembled for the venture, including chef Seb Myers (formerly of Chiltern Firehouse), sommelier James Lewis (Lyle’s) to oversee the wines and Sarah Papadimitriou (The Laughing Heart) to run the club.
Housed in a pair of vaulted railway arches, the interiors hark back to the site’s former use as a garage, with the open-plan layout making the most of polished concrete floors and exposed brickwork complemented by modernist furniture by Denmark’s Studio X. The restaurant revolves around a 10m-long oak table which seats 16, while there’s also an eye-catching electric blue-painted private dining alcove that can seat eight members. Membership costs £80 a month, which includes cellaring for 72 bottles plus access to the lounge and special winemaker dinners, tastings and buying advice, but members and non-members alike can enjoy bottles from the French-inspired wine list, which also features a few cult bottles from Alphandery’s own cellar.
Planque, 322-324 Acton Mews, Haggerston, London, E8