Françoise Peretti: The World's Best Champagne Bars

Next up in our series of World's 50 Best Bars spin-off articles we examine the world's best Champagne bars. 

Seeking out the best champagne bars is Françoise Peretti, director of the Champagne Bureau, who acts as spokesperson for the Comité Champagne (CIVC) in the UK, the organisation established to look after the common interests of wine growers and producers in Champagne. A keen traveller, she loves spotting champagne trends around the globe.

THE EFFERVESCENCE AND SPARKLE of Champagne has always made it the international first wine of choice for celebration, appealing to consumers in both traditional and emerging markets. The British love affair with Champagne continues, with the UK remaining the largest export market for the 16th year running. So it can be no surprise we’ve chosen bars from what is considered the champagne capital of the world, London. But we also want to take curious champagne lovers on a journey of bars from some of Champagne’s new markets.

From NV to vintage to rosés, there is a style for almost every food and occasion. For a Who’s Who list, Texture Champagne Bar is not to be missed. Or, for an alfresco experience at the top of the world, enjoy a glass of rosé at the Xiu Bar at Park Hyatt in Beijing. Those searching for a traditional experience with a twist, recline in a comfortable Chesterfield armchair with a glass of champagne at The Library Bar at Leela Chanakyapuri Palace.

This list of Champagne bars is far from being exhaustive, but is a tribute to how Champagne can transcend cultures and countries. Although the locations range from the spectacular to the surprising, the universal language is Champagne. John Maynard Keynes said: “My only regret in life is that I didn’t drink enough Champagne.” Let’s not repeat history in this instance. 



The English love story with champagne might have started when aristocrats on both sides of the Channel dashed back and forth dodging the various political upheavals of their respective countries, but it is still going strong today. Last autumn saw the opening of the most glamorous of luxury hotels in the capital: 45 Park Lane, sister hotel of The Dorchester part of Dorchester Collection, and its Bar 45 offers one of the best Champagne lists in London.

Here Champagnes are paired unorthodoxically but deliciously with chef Wolfgang Puck’s small bites, called Rough Cuts – a nod to the delicious super-premium meats on offer both at the bar and the restaurant, including a plate (slider) of three mini-burgers in brioche buns, spicy tuna in crispy wrap or artisanal cheeses from Neal’s Yard Dairy. A tribute that Champagne transcends cuisines and countries.



While Londoners are spoilt for choice of outstanding bars to enjoy the diversity of Champagne, no Champagne journey is complete without a visit to Xavier Rousset’s Texture Champagne Bar, off Portman Square. The sleek, pale-grey interior, warmed with tender greens and vibrant primary-colour oil paintings, provides the  most chic of Champagne venues. Offering some 100 Champagnes by the bottle and by the glass, the dazzling list opens with a well-known quote reminding us Champagne is for all occasions. The list takes us on a kaleidoscopic journey across the region and its multitude of styles from NV to vintage to prestige cuvées, meanders through golden to rosé to blanc de blancs to blanc de noirs, standard or large bottles. This is a Champagne lover’s paradise with Rousset a benevolent and knowledgeable St Peter who holds the key to our beatific happiness. 


Hardly a trainspotters’ place, Searcy’s Champagne Bar St Pancras is certainly the ultimate destination Champagne Bar. Dubbed the ‘longest Champagne bar in the world’, it has quickly and firmly established itself as a favourite with trans-Channel commuters but also with locals who live and work in this spectacularly regenerated neighbourhood. The Champagne offering – by the bottle and by the glass – would be a feat to match and opens up a frothy sea of tasting opportunities. Searcy’s food expertise shines with innovative Champagne and small bites pairings. The magnificent setting makes it a must. This is a truly fabulous Champagne experience and a magnificent tribute to the enduring love of the British for Champagne. The huge success of the destination/champagne concept has led Searcys to open four more Champagne bars around London.



A few months ago, as I was travelling to Munich, the limited conversation (due to not speaking a word of German) I managed to have with the taxi driver was about tennis as he pointed out a neighbourhood where Boris Becker had once lived. The other valuable piece of information was the scribbled name of a Champagne bar – proof that Champagne is a universal language even in a capital of beer. That night I visited Goldene Bar, an award-winner with a well-appointed Champagne list. The feel at Goldene Bar is post-modern – sort of Bauhaus meets Mies van der Rohe. Champagne is sipped lounging on soft tan leather sofas or sturdy dark leather and steel armchairs. Striking light streaming from a monumental central chandelier with giant hand-blown drops of light gives attractive honey hues that match the golden Champagne.  


While in Milan… do as the locals do and head for the seldom-visited but so typical Milanese-style souk that is Chinatown. There, amid bustling crowds and buildings, you will find the Cantine Isola, a tiny, friendly, inclusive cantina in the pure Italian tradition. Run by the son of the second owner (the first was the eponymous Signore Isola who opened this gem in 1896), Luca Sarais, you will be transported back several decades. Among the bottles that litter the shelves, spot a large array of Champagne NV and V that can all be sampled by the bottle and the glass, matched with superb local artisan cold cuts and cheese. Maybe not the most obvious place to drink Champagne. But don’t be fooled – owner and staff at this ultra-friendly enoteca will provide sound advice in the most endearing manner. 



Opened in August 2012, this is the most recent addition to the already buoyant Sydney Champagne scene. From the 30-plus Champagne list to the statement graphics on the wall, One Moncur Champagne Bar exudes champagne. In addition to the impressive list, six Champagnes by-the-glass are selected on a rotational basis, giving customers the opportunity to taste champagne diversity and a good reason to come back. The airy, contemporary, saffron-coloured space is very much reminiscent of New York. Velvet upholstered Louis XV armchairs sit next to traditional dark wood bar stools and beige banquettes, making the room warm and convivial. It is fun, accessible and varied. Local food such as native oysters, artisanal charcuterie and homemade chocolates are paired with Champagne. Sommeliers’ guidance is expert and friendly. This is a place to learn about Champagne but, most of all, to enjoy it with friends. 


Bar Nineteen 12

Champagne and glamour are a wonderful match and it doesn’t get much better than at this place. Known by insiders as The Pink Palace and at the heart of star-studded Beverly Hills for 100 years, it has been second home to Hollywood stars since the beginning: Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor, Bette Davis, Katharine Hepburn, Spencer Tracy, Cary Grant, John Lennon, Faye Dunaway… 

Bar Nineteen 12 offers an extensive Champagne list served with small plates of lobster tacos, mini sirloin sliders, crispy calamari or the deliciously unctuous burrata – a creamier, richer cousin of mozzarella. This the place for attention to detail. Champagne is served by discreet yet attentive staff in a warm and welcoming room with flattering lighting. Alternatively, sit on the beautiful terrace overlooking the famous pool and balmy gardens with Beverly Hills at your feet. My favourite time of day is early evening to catch the best sunsets in LA – then match the colours of the sky with a glass of rosé Champagne.



If you want to see how Champagne is consumed in one of the world’s fastest-growing economies, head for Xiu Bar (above) at Park Hyatt in Beijing, a city that does nightlife to its full. What first strikes you is how young the local jeunesse dorée is sipping Champagne alongside ex-pats celebrating their escape from economically stricken Europe. The bar – or should I say the multi-bars (there are five themed bars at Xiu) – is on the sixth level of the hotel, which feels like you are on top of the world as you step outside to the massive terrace. Water pools, bright colours and lights are the yin and yang in this temple of entertainment. Smooth and gracious staff will precisely pour your rosé into slender glasses, while the live band provides electrifying music. This is the place to practise holding your flute while practising your steps.


The many bottles of Champagne lining Le Cru’s shelves say ‘Champagne only’ from the moment we step into this large, airy, modern space in a busy street of Vienna. Far away from the ‘heritage’ image, the owner chose to show the contemporary face of Champagne – yet another demonstration that extensive wine education doesn’t need to be intimidating and boring. Here, staff trained to perfection will guide you through your purchases using tasting and education as the main tools. From the Côte des Blancs and Vallée de la Marne to the Côte des Bar and the Montagne de Reims, you will expertly be taken on a great Champagne journey and will discover the subtleties of the diversity of styles. The friendliness of the staff is endearing and conducive to asking questions which, with some 30 brands and between three and eight styles per brand, is quite welcoming. From established names to lesser-known producers, this has to be the best place to learn about Champagne in Austria. 


The Library Bar

With 300,000 bottles of Champagne shipped in 2011, India is still a modest market. But shipment growth of 59% last year gives an indication of things to come. Billing India as an ‘emerging’ country is forgetting its rich history and close ties with the UK, the leading export market for Champagne for 16 years. 

With its elites often jetting between India and London and many of them graduates from the best British schools and universities, it might only be a matter of years before the Indian market goes top of the pops. 

Meanwhile, champagne offers and service can be described as ‘small but beautiful’. Exquisite in fact. Nowhere is this truer than at the Library Bar (below) at Leela Chanakyapuri Palace, one of the grand landmarks of New Delhi. Its Champagne is served in a first-edition book-lined library bar with comfortable Chesterfield armchairs – a familiar style in London gentlemen’s clubs. Delicate Indian artefacts bring light and elegance to a sea of prune velvet, blue, red and deep greens. The room is an attractive melange of British and Indian, the staff hospitable and knowledgeable. A real gem of a Champagne bar. 

For a different feel, try Le Cirque (below), also at the Leela Chanakyapuri Palace with its arctic grey leather, art deco curves, coloured cut-crystal suspensions and jade green marble Long Bar.