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On the occasion of the 2017 Imbibe festival, we had the opportunity to trace down a path of some of London’s best cocktail bars. It is worth pointing out that London is host to many great cocktail bars and that it is practically impossible to visit them all in one trip. That being said, for those that aren’t mentioned in this article, it’s not because they don’t deserve to be but because we just didn’t have enough time to visit them.

COCKTAIL BAR LIST:

ORIOLE (East Poultry Avenue, London Smithfield Market)

An underground speakeasy located in the heart of the Smithfield market in Farrington.

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(Oriole cocktail bar, image by Oriole.com)

The cocktail menu is fashioned after an old world map divided between the old world, the new world and the Orient; each cocktail attempts to recreate a typical flavor of the place from which it draws its inspiration.

There are original cocktails and twists on classics with unique ingredients, all put together in a homemade style. The glasses are designed by mixologist, Luca Cinalli, and master artisan, Andrea Bottesi.

Oriole cocktails

(Cocktails, Images by Oriole.com)

It is quite recommendable to have a seat at the bar and, beyond enjoying the charming and knowledgeable bartenders, observe the extreme organisation and order maintained in one of the biggest bars you’ll ever see. There are hundreds of ingredients and mixes used either as an ingredient or for decoration, all of them very well catalogued and arranged.

There is a large snack menu with lots of variety, offering portions that are perfect to share and interesting combinations of flavors.  There is live music every day and a very good atmosphere, making it quite common for clients to get up from their tables for a dance.

Oriole

(Visiting Oriole)

THE COCKTAIL TRADING CO. (68, Bethnal Green road)

Cocktail bar opening into the street with very “country” decoration, music and overall atmosphere.

Floor overview

(The Cocktail Trading CO, image by www.thecocktailtradingco.co.uk)

The cocktail menu is a small notebook that the bartenders will invite you to take home if you’d like. It includes very well designed illustrations of the cocktails. In their mixes, the bartenders like to use fresh ingredients such as sorbet.

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(Image by www.thecocktailtradingco.co.uk)

The glasses are rather ingenious and amusing, encouraging the client to interact with his/her cocktail.

The personnel are very nice and the atmosphere is quite pleasant.

Trading and co

(Visiting The Cocktail Trading CO)

NIGHTJAR (129 city road)

A speakeasy that is already a classic in London. Once you go down the stairs, you are immersed in its ambiance that aspires to recreate the greatest moments of the cocktail world during the Prohibition era. And the desired effect is very effectively attained.

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(Image by www.barnightjar.com)

The cocktail menu is divided between pre-Prohibition, Prohibition and post-Prohibition. The ingredients used are quite peculiar and select, making for very interesting mixes. The glasses are always original, never a simple design.

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(Image by www.londontown.com)

The cocktail decorations are extremely elaborate, taking after their line of mixes. It is a show to observe how the bartenders prepare so many cocktails of such great difficulty and complexity in such little time, and in a bar that is always packed. The atmosphere is made unique by the live music and the lighting.

Nihgjar

(Visiting Nightjar)

LOUNGE BOHEMIA (1e Great Eastern street)

A speakeasy with a completely unique concept. Making your way down the stairs, the atmosphere becomes warm and welcoming, making you feel virtually at home. It gives off a bohemian vibe and everything that goes with that, with everything in the bar representing that concept.

An original menu that describes not only the ingredients but the flavors. A feminine touch is noted from the two bartenders in their attention to details and cordiality. While one makes the cocktails with extreme precision and detail, the other explains each cocktail, narrating its story with theatrical grace as if your order was a work of art.

Lounge bohemia

(Visiting Lounge Bohemia)

The cocktails are small concepts in and of themselves, presented in a wide variety of wares and objects—never in a common glass. The taster menus of 6 cocktails are particularly recommendable, each of them being of different concepts: the morning routine, the story of the classics, a journey between woods.

The mixologist responsible for creating the cocktails is Paul Tvaroh.

CALLOH CALLAY (65 Rivington Street)

A cocktail bar with American touches owing to the style of cocktails, the ambiance and the bartenders.

It is a treat to take a seat at the bar and take in the bartenders’ charms and showmanship. They create a fantastic atmosphere by including clients in their conversations and jokes.

Bar+6+HR+-+Copy(Image by www.calloohcallaybar.com)

A truly relaxed mood reigns with very select music so that every moment is brimming with happiness, just like the bartenders themselves.

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(Image by www.calloohcallaybar.com)

The cocktail menu is simple and to the point, no complicated ingredients or snazzy glasses. The drinks attest to exceptional balance and good taste. Surely what is special about Calloh Callay is its staff, the soul of this cocktail bar.

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(Image by www.calloohcallaybar.com)

SATAN’S WHISKERS (343 Cambridge heat road)

A perfect cocktail bar to start the night off. In the same fashion as bars such as “The Cocktail Trading Co.” and “Calloh Callay. The concept is very American and rooted in being simple, practical and personal. The atmosphere is rather curious owing to its peculiar decorations.

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(Image by www.whatsoninlondon.co.uk) 

Its staff is very attentive and pleasant, giving you a customer service experience that all bars wish they could be known for. The group of young lads working there show how much they enjoy their work serving despite the massive number of drinks they are responsible for putting out. The cocktail menu is simple and made up mostly of classic cocktails.

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(Image by www.timeout.com)

PEG+PATRIOT (Patriot Square)

A minimalist cocktail bar located in Town Hall hotel, without decorations or back bar. Just a bar, bottles and a few lightbulbs above the bar. The alchemist concept is this bar’s particular accent. With this bar, Mr Fox, a reputed consultant, aimed to recreate a veritable lab. Almost all of its products are made in the underground laboratory where the keywords are infusion, maceration, distillation and experimentation with all types of products. Pure chemistry.

Peg + patriot space

(Visiting Peg + Patriot)

The cocktail menu is a notebook inspired from the most well-known chefs and each cocktail strives to represent the main raw material of one of their dishes.

It is very interesting to ask the staff about their creations and observe them prepare the ingredients non-stop behind a completely empty bar, as if it were a real laboratory.

BAR TERMINI (7 Old Compton Street)

A very small bar that aims to recreate the atmosphere of 1950s Italian bars, where the aperitif culture was created. In fact, the entire menu revolves around aperitifs and quality coffee.

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(Image by www.elleuk.com)

The cocktail menu is not very long but is quite varied and precise. In it you will find original versions of classic Italian aperitif cocktails with a special touch from master mixologist, Tony Conigliaro.  The staff are very attentive, well dressed and meticulous. The food menu offers good quality and is fashioned after the most iconic Italian products.

This is absolutely the best place to have a good aperitif with quality, authentic Italian flavors.

Bar termini

(Visiting Bar Termini) 

HAPPYNESS FORGETS (7-9 Hoxton Square)

A speakeasy offering an American-style concept based on well-balanced cocktails, simple glasses and decorations, and different but uncomplicated mixes.

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(Image by punchdrink.com)

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(Image by DrinkUp.London)

Bonuses are the bar’s location, the decorations and the cocktails’ tasty flavor and balance.

Happyness forget

(Visiting Happyness Forgets) 

THE GIBSON (44 Old Street)

There are cocktail bars and then there is The Gibson. Simply perfect on all counts with every detail revealing exceptional care and examination.

img3(Image by www.thegibsonbar.london)

From the moment you put your foot in the door of this street-facing bar, you will feel that you’re stepping into another atmosphere. Live piano music, soft candle lighting and a simply fantastic staff that will make you feel right at home.

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(Image by www.thegibsonbar.london)

Beyond the water that is offered free of charge in all of London’s cocktail bars, the staff will offer you a punch of the day in a little wooden cup that will remind you of those that sake and mezcal are served in.

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The menu’s concept is designed around the months of the year. Every month has 3 or 4 cocktails that will transport you into that time of the year. The bartenders demonstrate extraordinary teamwork as their cocktail preparation will show. Giving substance to the saying that two people can always do a job better than one, they will show you how important teamwork is in real time.

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(Images by www.thegibsonbar.london)

The cocktail blends are simply unique. Nearly all ingredients are homemade and put together in very sophisticated fashion, using the most unimaginable and original ingredients. Virtually all types of techniques are used to make every cocktail an experience for all five senses. Not only the taste, but the presentation too represent perfection in combining the elements. The cocktails are always finished off with aromatic features, making your drink’s flavor go far beyond its taste. The decorations are cocktails themselves in all of their complexity and flavor.

The gibson

(Visiting The Gibson)

The bartenders, Francesco and Simone, are especially prepared for the job. They clearly show the passion they have for their work and demonstrate the best quality that any bartender could wish to have: humility. The bar is property of the famous mixologist, Marian Beke, a genius and artist of mixology that goes beyond all limits and truly thinks “outside the box”.

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(Raimondo Palomba and Erika Gisonno with Francesco and Simone behind the bar at The Gibson)

Written by

Raimondo Palomba (bar manager Atelier cocktail bar)
Erika Gisonno (head bartender Atelier cocktail bar)