The best specialist bars in London
With approximately 7000 bars and public houses, London is a haven for drinking enthusiasts. With so many to choose from, though, it can be a daunting (and expensive!) task to unearth the hidden gems in the London bar scene.
To help you out and get you started, I've listed some of the very best specialist bars in London. For a bit of variety, I've picked one bar per specialty – so if I've missed one of your favourite London watering holes please add them to the list using the comments at the bottom…
London is full of very refined and sophisticated champagne bars – and tourists don’t have to travel very far to find one of the very best, seeing as it’s in St Pancras International Train Station! Searcys Champagne Bar is renowned as the longest champagne bar in Europe, and its modernist design, coupled with the stunning St Pancras architecture, makes for a truly memorable drinking experience.
If you’re into your whisky, then Albannach in Trafalgar Square is for you. Their Scotch whisky list is handily split into the different Scottish regions – which amounts to over 120 different whisky variations for you to try! They also offer very reasonably priced Whisky Flights, which can either come pre-determined or you can make your own flight using 5 whiskies of your own choosing.
If you like a certain atmosphere and lots of history with your wine, then you’ll love Gordon’s Wine bar (47 Villiers Street, WC2N 6NE) – which is situated so far underground you can hear the humming of underground trains as they pass by! Don’t let that put you off though, as the unique underground atmosphere, rich history (both Samuel Pepys and Rudyard Kipling were known to frequent Gordon’s) and unrivalled selection and knowledge of wine make this the perfect destination for wine connoisseurs.
It’s not easy picking one stand-out beer specialist in London, as the city has so many great purveyors of fine beers amongst its many bars and pubs. Seeing as I've written myself into a corner and now HAVE to pick just one, I’m going to plump for Lowlander Grand Café in Drury Lane – simply because it has a great selection of both draught and bottled beer from all over the world (but mostly from Belgium, naturally!)
Again, choosing just one cocktail bar in London is not easy, but I’m going to go with Freuds on Shaftesbury Avenue – thanks mostly because it doubles up as an art gallery as well. Every month the artwork adorning the walls of Freuds is changed, and the bar acts like a living, breathing art exhibition – which is a very cool setting to complement a few classic cocktails!
As you may have guessed, this is by no means intended as an exhaustive list. London is full of bars and pubs that range from the charming, quaint and friendly to the ultra-modern, hip and decadent. Whatever your drinking tastes and preferences, you will find them catered for in London. Hopefully the above list will start you on your way!
Luke Glassford is a keen whisky drinker and writer for TheatrePeople.com, an online London theatre ticket seller.