Coupette, Bethnal Green
Blink and you miss Coupette. It’s flanked by unassuming shops and laundrettes, on Bethnal Green Road, and still bears the name of the 160-year-old pub, The Albion, that hides away beneath. However, this inauspicious neighbourhood bar actually comes with a prestigious pedigree. It’s the brainchild of some of the best names in the business; led by former head barman of The Savoy’s Beaufort Bar, Chris Moore. It is east London’s newest slice of France, where even cider is spelt cidré. Among their inventive menu is their signature cocktail, simply named Apples; a delicious mix of calvados and cold-pressed apple juice. There’s also a champagne piña colada that is a surprising, crisp take on a classic. The food menu, full of reinvented French classics from Atherton-alumni James Allen Thompson, is just as tasty. This is set to be one of London’s best hidden gems.
The Wigmore, Regent Street
What’s next after the hotel bar? Why, the hotel pub of course. That’s what The Langham is doing with its latest venture: The Wigmore. Located right next door, in Regent Street, it is a high-ceilinged, green-walled, art deco masterpiece in a former banking hall – think your local boozer if it was in the Emerald City. Though the food menu is by Michelin-starred Michael Roux Jnr and the drinks are from the team behind The Langham’s Artesian Bar (named Best Bar in the World in 2015), the traditional pub grub on offer is an average of £12 and a glass of red will set you back less than a fiver. But try the craft beer; in particular, the pub’s very own Saison created in conjunction with Bermondsey’s Brew by Numbers. Neighbourhood pub prices in the seat of luxury; what’s the catch? It doesn’t take reservations, so get ready to queue.
The Royal Oak, Twickenham
The humble British pub is getting another deluxe reinvention in Twickenham in the shape of The Royal Oak. Opened in July, this sleek, open-plan pub in Richmond Road has a bright and kitschy interior, complete with cosy corners, board games and fully-stocked bookshelves. It’s as if your living room started serving you beer on tap. Two 500 litre copper behemoths immediately alert your attention to the fact that The Royal Oak is serving Truman brewery’s first ever tank-ready beer: RAW. The ales and beers are sourced locally, the wine list is curated by master of wine John Clevely and the cocktail menu, though not extensive, serves classics and does them well. It’s making all the right moves to become a Sunday afternoon favourite.
Mint Gun Club, Stoke Newington
Three times barman of the year (from 2007 to 2009) and alumni of Milk & Honey, Mahiki and Hawksmoor; Rich Hunt, has finally opened his own venue. Mint Gun Club, a small white-shuttered space off the beaten track in Stoke Newington, is worth the wait, and the hallmarks of Hunt’s stellar skills are everywhere. The cocktail menu might be the most inventive thing you’ll see in London this year. There are two standouts: Bamboo, a tarragon and coconut wine drink, infused with sherry and peach bitters, and the Quiet Americano, a strawberry Campari and vermouth blend. Hunt’s imagination means this menu is ever-changing and the brilliant bar staff are more than happy to cater to your every cocktail whim. Go here for a serious taste of something new.
Tonight, Josephine, Waterloo
Napoleon’s paramour is enjoying a renaissance of late. Chaumet designed an entire Josephine Bonaparte jewellery range in 2015 and The JOBO, named after her, was one of the hottest new hotel openings in Paris last year. Now, the brains behind The Escapologist cocktail bar have opened Tonight, Josephine, in Waterloo, in her honour. Decorated in neon pink, the bar is inspired by the belief that Josephine Bonaparte was the original hedonistic It Girl. Its menu is a playful reimagining of classic cocktails; a Loch Negroni Monster, a Rum and Maple Old Fashioned and the bar’s signature drink, No Time for Napoleon – a fantastic dry vermouth and lemon juice blend that even comes with a macaron. This is a place to party in.
Bar Elba, Waterloo
Not to leave the main man out, the same team behind Tonight, Josephine, have concocted Bar Elba. This rooftop venue in Waterloo, right by its sister bar, is named after the island of Napoleon’s exile and brings a Shoreditch vibe to the Southbank area. Tables are made of stripped-back wood and walls are painted with slogans such as ‘Egalité, Fraternité, Rosé.’ With an irreverent menu, featuring an Elban Punch Jug, pick and mix sweets as garnishes and Skittles-infused vodka, Bar Elba reimagines Napoleon’s political exile as a lads-on-tour holiday.