London – A place of pilgrimage for cocktail lovers
No matter if you like your drinks classic, crazy, experimental, or molecular, or if you would like to interact with the bartender, sip your drink alone, or want to be entertained by live music – London has got it all. It is the iconic centre of the European bar world. In London you will find innumerable bars and as many different concepts. There is a higher demand compared to drinking habits in Germany. The cocktail culture is booming at the moment in general but the UK especially is becoming a nation of cocktail connoisseurs, a recent study revealed. Going to cocktail bars is part of the British lifestyle. People finish work and head to bars to enjoy high quality drinks. What is used in the fine art of eating, is used to refine the drinking experience. Use of high-tech tools like rotovaps, dehydrators, sous-vide, thermo mix, espumas, liquid nitrogen, clarification and fermentation techniques support the crafting process.
Drinking, relaxing, and having a good time. It is about the experience, a warm welcome and a comfy bar stool. The best indicator of a good bar? You leave the place with a smile on your face.
When I was in Paris I decided to take the Eurostar to continue my bar trip. I was full of recommendations but only four nights to manage as many bars as possible. I was full of expectations because I had read so many reports about the bar scene. Unfortunately, I lost all my notes, so this is mostly written from memory. Nevertheless, this bar adventure was absolutely amazing and I enjoyed every single minute. This wasn’t a typical bar tour, it was more of a pilgrimage.
Due to the fact that bars close early and the alcoholic strength of the drinks shouldn’t be underestimated, it was quite challenging to visit all of my planned bars. I survived 41 drinks and 14 bars. Here is my list and a few words about the bars I visited. Especially about those that touched my heart and taste buds. I am starting with my favourite experiences, the ones that gave me a smile and a good feeling.
Mint Gun Club
The bar opened this summer in Stoke Newington. Behind the bar, Richard Hunt, a renowned, awarded and experienced bartender and for me he belongs to one of the best hosts so far. It was late and I was the last guest, when I escaped the rainy weather and found myself in a tropical garden. White and blue walls, a lot of plants, Scandinavian interior and a wall packed with interesting bottles. Seems the owner has travelled a lot. I received a warm welcome and the menu.
Fine teas, aperitifs and cocktails paired with world class hospitality. A visit to remember, a perfect hideaway and absolutely my cup of tea.
It is a tea room as well as a cocktail bar and the tea menu looks very interesting. Same with the cocktail menu which is divided into four sections: gimlets, aperitifs, tonics and night-caps. Not easy to decide but I didn’t have to. Richard prepared a nice flight through his menu. I had a tiny and very delicious Gimlet. From the Aperitif section he served me the Bamboo, an unusual flavour combination of tarragon & coconut wine, fino sherry and vintage peach bitters. We shared almonds and some samples of the Night-Caps. All drinks were on point and executed in a relaxed manner, lightness and implicitness. A warm welcome, a nice chat and delicious drinks to top it all – a perfect night that impressed me the most.
It was a bit late for proper pictures.
Peg + Patriot – unfortunately closed
The bar is located in the beautiful old Town Hall building in Bethnal Green. You will find the bar on the ground floor to your right. The atmosphere is warm and friendly. A bar I liked from the very first moment. It reminded me a bit of a lab on first sight due to the tiles at the bar and the rotovap that caught my eye first. This impression was confirmed with the first look at the menu “Chefs Note Book”. Here you will find the exact recipe of each drink, ingredients and how they were crafted. If you are not interested in the details you get a short description of the flavour and the ABV of your drink. It is easy to choose a drink. I had three of them. Buckwheat, Foie Gras and Peanut, simple as that. I can still remember their flavours, the drinks unusual elements have a harmonious balance. You can taste the passion and skill behind it. The menu changes on a regular basis but I am absolutely sure that the quality doesn’t.
A wonderful location, a great bar team and tasteful drinks. I always look for bars with heart, soul and dedication.
I had drinks that are anchored in my taste memory and I met some wonderful people. Classy, cosy, experimental, topped with this super friendly bar team. What more could you ever need?!
On the other side of the road from the Peg + Patriot you will find this laid back and relaxed drinking den. This place had been highly recommended to me and the person making the recommendation was absolutely right. It is easy to miss, as it appears quite unobtrusive, but behind the door a warm welcome and a vintage interior is waiting for you. Your ears are treated to pleasant hip hop vibes.
The menu changes daily depending on what the market offers. Fresh and seasonal is the theme but classics are also happily served. They are built rock-solid. The bartenders are young but they are knowledgeable and experienced and they love what they do. Barfood? Divided into two fingers, four fingers or many hands. I have heard it is delicious.
Tasty bar food, delicious drinks, characteristic interior, friendly bar staff: a neighbourhood bar to fall in love with.
I haven’t had a Penicillin for a while. Compass Box Asyla did a great job together with lemon, honey, ginger and peat. Next, I opted for the Italian American. Bourbon, espresso and coffee liqueurs to pick me up a bit: delicious. I had a perfect seat at the bar with a devilish bar top and spirit selection in front of me. It was a diabolically good experience I would say. Don’t miss this place. To be on the safe side I put my sticker next to the entrance 😉
I went here twice because this is a kind of bar I dream of: famous bartenders without airs and graces, cosy atmosphere, a remarkable bar counter, tempting drinks and maybe some coffee and food would also be nice to have.
Coupette is relatively new and the line up of the bartenders is stunning. Chris Moore, Franck Dedieu and Dan Schofield brought together their experience and opened this “chic” bar. The bar has a French focus and an emphasis on regional spirits such as Calvados, Armagnac, cidre and champagne.
The drink everyone is currently talking about: The Champagne Pina Colada. Bacardi Heritage, Trois Rivières White Rum, Pineapple Cordial, Coconut Sorbet and, of course, Champagne. This combination is “oh là là” and you can definitely make a classic drink in a French way great again. Chapeau! Also for the delicious Truffled White Negroni and the Apples, a mix of the calvados of the month and apple juice carbonated in house. They have a monthly calvados to bring back calvados to serious drinkers. Calvados works very well in cocktails. Convince yourself, this is the right place.
This place is perfectly balanced, heart-warming with a lot of attention to detail. Inspired by France but proudly local.
My favourite place is always at the bar. The bar counter at Coupette has a homey copper glow given by the inlaid centime coins. You easily get in touch with your neighbour while searching for the year of your birth or guessing how many of the centime coins have been used to cover the whole bar counter. I know the answer but I don’t want to spoil the fun. Exposed brick walls and the art nouveau chandeliers support the sophisticated interior. Another masterpiece is the cocktail menu inspired by French avant-garde cultural icons bound in an elegant black cover. Each page offers an illustration corresponding to the cocktails. The bar food is also not to be missed. My choice was a classical croque monsieur. My next visit will be very soon.