Baby’s it’s cold outside, so grab a glass, light a fire and snuggle up in some of the capital’s finest drinking holes this winter.
Is there a cosier bar in London more capable of fooling you into thinking you are imbibing in your own private bar – no doubt reached through a trick book in your mahogany library? Short answer: no. This bar deserves the hype, and its winter popularity is entirely justified thanks to its warm, wood-panelled ambience and live jazz. The ever-changing cocktails, and increasingly inventive and topical Gerald Scarfe-illustrated menus are a major draw. Their recent musical-inspired menu, featured a divine 12 year-old-Macallan-based ‘Satchmo’ and a Rastafarian’s Vermouth based cocktail called ‘No Booze No Cry’.
The Churchill Bar
This classic cocktail bar in Marylebone boasts a stunning outdoor terrace that shifts seamlessly with the seasons- from their tropical themed summer offering to their cosy (and heated) Christmas iteration. The winter menu, launched in November, pays homage to the bar’s namesake. Entitled ‘Shades of Churchill’; each cocktail is named after a facet of the famous premier; ‘The Prime Minister’ is a heady mix of Johnnie Walker black and absinthe while ‘The Cigar Smoker’ is a Cenote tequila infused with green pepper and grapefruit oleo saccharum.
Perched atop South East London’s infamous Tobacco Dock, Skylight is Europe’s only rooftop ice rink. Or, if you’re reading this after Brexit well…oh who knows. What we do know is Skylight is the ideal winter destination; with heated igloos and warm wooden cabins clustered around the ice replete with a very festive drink selection. The cocktails are great wintery-twists on classics, like Rum Old Fashioneds and Spicy Margaritas alongside inventive creations (the Apple Crumble’s delicious twist of spiced rums and caramel is a solid hit) and warming standards like hot toddies and mulled wines and ciders.
Treat yourself to the sophisticated elegance of 45 Park Lane and it’s cosy, yet contemporary Bar45. The bar is famous for its negronis and frequently hosts masterclasses (yes, they have a Campari specialist on board). Their Christmas cocktail this year is- naturally- a Sloe Negroni, but they have a such a wealth of expertly-made concoctions, you’d be a fool not to sample as many as possible.
Bourne & Hollingsworth Garden Room
Winter in the city may as well come with a view and it doesn’t come much better than Bourne and Hollingsworth’s Covent Garden outpost. As London’s skyline lights up below, ensconce yourself within the garden room’s stunning foliage installation; festive fronds and ferns tinged with autumnal red leaves and a hint of Poinsetta fall from the ceiling making you feel like you’re drinking in a Christmas wreath. Plus, their cocktails are a potent and imaginative blend; highlights include Gee & Tea (yes actual honey tea with your gin) and their take on a Pisco Sour- the Livingstone Sour, which comes with cherry liqueur.
The vast Kings Cross restaurant and bar have looked to Westeros for their festive inspiration this season. A stunning red-leafed Heart tree takes up the centre of the Grand Café and is flanked by smaller weirwood tress throughout the space. Even those clueless of the show cannot help but enjoy the creative whisky menu. In collaboration with Jack Daniels and Woodford Reserve, they are serving up a feast of Game of Thrones themed cocktails; from ‘Stark’s Old Fashioned’-a chocolate twist on the classic – to ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’- rye whiskey with Xante liqueur, all served in a goblet fit for a queen.
Cushioned within East London’s most exciting new opening; The Stratford hotel; The Mezzanine is a world-class cocktail bar. The contemporary décor keeps it modern and fresh, yet warmly inviting for these winter months; and the drinks list is sublime and expertly created. Inspired by the New York cocktail scene between the 1930s and 60s; from Jazz Age classics to Mad Men infusions, these are all put together by the award-winning team behind Dandelyan, the Connaught and the Savoy. Not only are their cocktails – highlights including the Gold Boulevardier (featuring homemade vanilla bitters) and Tapatia Fizz (tequila with a grapefruit and agave blend) – perfectly decadent, they are sustainable too. So you can drink guilt free.
May Fair Bar
The Mayfair institution has teamed up with Belvedere vodka for a seven-week Belvedere + Ice pop up winter wonderland this year. Well, in their words “a dark and dramatic Winterscape” but, you know, it’s very chic. The cocktails aren’t half-bad either. The eponymous concoction is a luxury blend of champagne and Hennessy cognac and Madagascan-vanilla infused vodka, the Belvedere twists on the negroni and old fashioned are sumptuous and their Jasmine & Fig Sour- mixing fig liqueur with molasses bitters- is inspired.
York and Albany Gingerbread Cabin
This annual Christmas delight – and answer to the eternal question of what it would be like to live in a real-life gingerbread house – is back. Nestled at the back of the North London York & Albany pub, the adorable cabin is the ideal spot for festive drinks complete with its own fireplace and Christmas tree. The winter cocktails are the cherry on the top of this festive merriment; Chambord mulled wine, Gingerbread Espresso martini, Cinnamon Old Fashioned Slim Santa- the list goes on.
Opened to much fanfare in early November; Amazonico is the capital’s biggest European import. The Madrid restaurant is legendary; and now its rainforest-themed wonderland has decamped to Berkeley Square. The interiors here are a major draw; designed by Lázaro Rosa-Violan, all dark greens, peacocks, soft-pile carpets and every possible spare inch of the place draped in lush foliage and bird of paradise flowers. Dining here is an unbridled delight – the Peruvian sushi is other-worldly – but its sleek lounge bar and delicious cocktail menu (think classics with a mouth-watering tropical bent) mean this new arrival is the ideal spot for a decadent winter drink or five.