1 | Mark’s Bar at Hixter, 9A Devonshire Sq, London, EC2M 4AE
The first Mark’s Bar, beneath Mark Hix’s signature Brewer Street, Soho restaurant, is one of London’s finest bars. This new one, below Hixter, makes a welcome addition in the east of the capital. Open until 2.30am.
Order: A Hix Fix: Morello cherry in apple eau de vie with Nyetimber Classic Cuvée 2004.
2 | Punch Room, 10 Berners St, London, W1T 3NP
Hidden out the back of the London Edition Hotel is one of the capital’s finest new bars. Styled like a private gentlemen’s club, the Punch Room serves speciality punches in single serves or in bowls for up to eight people.
Order: Milk Punch, a spicy mix of rum, cognac, cider brandy, pineapple juice, cloves… and milk.
3 | Slim’s Pork Chop Express, 85 Seel St, Liverpool, L1 4BB
Opening in March, expect dirty beats, good whisky, “shakes” and smoked meats inside a two-storeyed, 50-seat venue. Hit the cocktail bar at the front to get your night going; food will be served till late.
Order: A Lucky Strike, a cherrywood-smoked rittenhouse rye Old Fashioned with barrel bitters. Or try a peanut butter and jelly shake, or rum and Coke float.
4 | White Lyan, 153–155 Hoxton St, London N1 6PJ
Dark and minimalist, but the selling point is the house cocktails, all pre-made without ice cubes, citrus fruit or sugar. Everything is stored in vast fridges for close to instantaneous service. If Heston Blumenthal did cocktail bars…
Order: A Bone Dry Martini: Mr Lyan vodka and, yes, extract of bone.
5 | The Devil’s Advocate, 9 Advocates Cl, Edinburgh EH1 1ND
Awash with industrial glass and brickwork, it boasts superb food (in its mezzanine restaurant) and formidable cocktails. A new venture from the guys behind the Bon Vivant restaurant, it’s a little bit tucked away in the Old Town, but persevere and you’ll find it.
Order: Any classic cocktail; all are short-and-to-the-point quality drinks.
6 | The Ape & Bird Public House, 142 Shaftesbury Ave, London WC2H 8HJ
A fabulously revamped old man’s pub in Soho; expect pickled eggs and sausage rolls. Head downstairs to its grotty, no-frills dive bar.
Order: An Old Fashioned.
7 | Coal Vaults, 187B Wardour st , London, W1F 8ZB
Once a coal store, so expect low-arched ceilings, exposed timber and brickwork. Admire the gleaming copper bar (not an original fixture, we presume), and the toilet floor made from thousands of pennies. Spent pennies, geddit?
Order: Lots of love goes into all the bar’s delicious cocktails. For a pick-me-up, try a Bolivia — vodka, manzanilla sherry, home-roasted cocoa bitters and espresso.
8 | Opium, 15–16 Gerrard St, London W1D 6JE
In this multi-floored former gambling den in the heart of the capital’s Chinatown, the best seat is at the kitchen table-style bar.
Order: An enormous Kuman Chai It punch.
9 | Kench & Bibesy, 50–52 Long Ln, London EC1A 9EJ
A speakeasy from the team behind Earl’s Court’s Evans & Peel Detective Agency bar. Offers whimsical style (lots of stuffed squirrels) but plenty of substance ie, a formidable whisky selection.
Order: The Black Brose (Arran 10-year-old whisky, honey, oatmeal stout and atomised tonka bean spirit) is heaven in a champagne glass.
10 | Red Light, 1 Unity St, Bristol BS1 5HH
Secret, seductive and faintly sleazy, this establishment wholeheartedly embraces cocktail-bar/brothel chic.
Order: A Bullseye Bloody Mary.