City Guide to London

Milk & Honey London is the sister venue to its New York namesake, which opened in 2000 and relocated to larger premises in January 2013. 

Many bartenders pass through the ‘school’ of Milk & Honey and the exacting standards learned at the venue have set many a ’tender up in their own bar. 

The house rules are famous and fairly funny. My favourite is “no name-dropping, no star-f**king”. 

Happiness Forgets

8-9 Hoxton Square, London, 

This bar is testament to the phrase ‘less is more’. It’s a bare-brick basement affair in Hoxton with well-trained bar staff. Its motto reads: High End Cocktails, Low Rent Basement. The website also states “no wallies”, which is what everyone strives for in a great bar, really.

You can only sit and it’s the kind of place you can go to have a long chat with friends – or a date – without feeling like the music’s too loud or the venue is too crowded. Think wooden stools, candlelight and, for a good show and gentle banter, sit up at the bar. It was founded by Alastair Burgess, who created the place because he wanted a bar where people could sit and talk to friends and not have to fight their way to be served. It worked. 


1C PortLand PLaCe, London,

It had to be on this list, really. It has been voted the best bar in the world not once but twice. And with good reason. Gaga is a regular at the Langham but you don’t need to be a celebrity to receive top service. Drinks are lovingly prepared by dynamic duo Alex Kratena and Simone Caporale, along with their team. Their latest cocktail menu is daring and progressive – demonstrating that you really don’t need to be as buttoned down as your uniform when it comes to hotel cocktails.

They shunned the traditional menu approach and introduced an interactive Butterfly Wheel, which allows guests to “choose progressive cocktails and unusual flavour combinations”.

Cocktails are listed on a flavour wheel that is colour-coded according to the descriptive style and flavours of each cocktail.

Slushy machines and goat skins have also been a feature at this bar and who knows what will appear in the future? The greatest thing about this place is that it does not rest on its laurels. And, if it had laurels, they would no doubt find their way into a cocktail.

Calooh Callay

65 Rivington Street, LONDON

This is a fun place to go for a date and the cocktails are great. The bar is known for its adventurous streak and you can venture through the wardrobe door on the website as well as in the actual bar. Of course the name is a reference to Lewis Carroll’s Jabberwocky, but what I like most is the cocktail menus. During one visit they were in cassette tapes and billed like greatest hits.

More recently they were in London transport Oyster card-style wallets. According to the bar’s Facebook, 1,000 of them were ‘stolen’ in the first three weeks of the new menu. But all is forgiven since the team at CC want you to take the menu away with you.

Upstairs, the bar changes every six weeks to a new ‘pop-up’. Recent incarnations include a Candy Store with rows of jars of sweets and old-fashioned scales. Of course, cocktails were on the menu, too.


35 St James Place, London,

Yes, *another* hotel bar. But this
one is smaller than the others and not so easy to find. It has five stars and the bar is famous for its former ’tender Salvatore Calabrese’s perfect Martini creation - according to a respected travel writer who sipped it during his stay. 

It is now headed up by the affable and all-round delightful Alessandro Palazzi. He is a warm and generous host who mixes a mean Martini. He’s so generous, he’ll even show you how to create the perfect Martini at his Martini Masterclass - though you’ll have to cross his palm with £95.  

Beaufort Bar, Savoy

Strand, London,

Although I do love the American Bar at the Savoy, it does attract a lot of headlines. Rightly so as it’s famous and its bartenders are famous. No doubt it’s also frequented by the famous. But I feel the Beaufort Bar sometimes gets lost in the shadow of its more famous sibling. A bit like all the Kardashians who aren’t Kim. Champagne, cocktails and cabaret are the aim of the place and it also holds a special place in history – though perhaps more with the theatre crowd than the bartender scene.

The bar’s blurb reads: “The bar itself stands on the hotel’s former cabaret stage, which was graced by such luminaries as Carol Gibbons, the Savoy Orpheans and George Gershwin.”

This tradition is continued with nightly live entertainment, as well as monthly evenings of cabaret and burlesque.

It’s an Art Deco affair and the Champagne selection is note- worthy. The list is divided into the The Classics, The Unique, The Giants and The Glorious. You’ll have to go along to find out which is which.