WE WRITE ALL OUR JOKES IN CAPITALS.
THIS ONE WAS WRITTEN IN PARIS.
And on returning from our writing sojourn across the channel, we took the opportunity to size up the bars, restaurants and shops that have suddenly sprung up around King’s Cross.
With the recent unveiling of the swooping new development Coal Drops Yard, next to the fountain-filled Granary Square, King’s Cross – once merely a travel hub for students, businessmen, and children pushing trolleys with owls headfirst into platform pillars – has become a food and drink destination in its own right. Restaurants in the area now include renowned tapas bar Barrafina (whose central London sister boasts a Michelin-star); Assaf Granit and Tom Dixon’s critically acclaimed Coal Office; Casa Pastor and Plaza Pastor; as well as many more.
All of which you should definitely visit…after an aperitif at one of the below bars.
Et voilà – the best bars in King’s Cross…
Housed in a jaw-droppingly beautiful 19th century room in the grand, gothic revival hotel by King’s Cross station, George’s Bar is the liquid counterpart to the neighbouring restaurant, also overseen by Michelin star-winning chef Marcus Wareing. Beneath a glittering mosaic ceiling and giant church bell chandeliers, you can score botanical-leaning cocktails like The Herbalist – with thyme-infused gin, green Chartreuse, elderflower and absinthe – while snacking on charcuterie, crispy whitebait and parmesan arancini.
Address: St. Pancras Renaissance Hotel, Euston Road, NW1 2AR | Opening hours: Daily 11.30am-late | Average price of a cocktail: £13
Permit Room at Dishoom
Head down to the basement of Dishoom King’s Cross and you’ll find The Permit Room, a dimly-lit subterranean bar made up of cobbled floors, dark bentwood stools and marble tables, and enough vintage lighting, photographs and hand-painted signage to take you back to the 40s. It gives a nod to the introduction of Bombay’s Prohibition Act in 1949, when alcohol was banned except for those carrying a medical permit. Here, however, you can freely sip on their selection of Pens & Paanch; Slings, Coolers & Fizzes; and Sours & Fancies with fervour. It’s table service too, which means no cramming and queuing at the bar. Instead, your drinks will be delivered to your table, alongside a selection of Bombay-inspired snacks, should you permit.
Address: 5 Stable Street, N1C 4AB | Opening hours: Mon-Wed 8am-11pm, Thurs-Fri 8am-12am, Sat 9am-12am, Sun 9am-11pm | Average cocktail price: £8
Racketeers may be fraudulent businessmen, but you won’t be cheated out of anything at this shabby chic cocktail bar and bottle-shop, with a basement dancefloor and a secret walled garden out back. For the most part they serve cocktail classics with a twist, although there’s also a small menu of wines and a few beers on tap, all of which you can sip with a side of charcuterie and/or cheese. Bottle-shop wise they sell wine – mostly from small producers – and craft beer, which they’ll happily wrap up for you to smash back at home.
Address: 105 King’s Cross Road, WC1X 9LR | Opening hours: Mon-Thurs 4pm-12am, Fri & Sat 12pm-1am, Sun 3-11pm | Average cocktail price: £8.50
It’s the Hart brothers’ answer to the mic drop; not their first, or second, but their fourth venue in King’s Cross’ brand new development Coal Drops Yard. And, whilst the other two (Barrafina, Parrillan and Casa Pastor) are spin-offs of already existing (and undeniably amazing) restaurants, this one’s a first: an intimate wine bar set up in one of the development’s railway arches, focusing on delicious wines at all price points, with some British bar fare on the side.
Address: Unit 22-24, Bagley Walk Arches, Coal Drops Yard, N1C 4DH | Opening hours: Mon 4.30-11pm, Tues – Sat 12-11pm, Sun 1-9pm | Average price of a glass of wine: £6.50
Vermouth and cycling. Apparently, they’re two themes that work well in tandem. This bar in Coal Drops Yard is a cosy, brick-walled space with a terrace for the warmer months and vintage posters of aperitif spirits and cycling competitions plastered across the walls. The drinks here are suitably focussed on vermouths (both on tap and by the glass), americanos, amaros and bitters, as well as cocktails combining them – but there’s a solid wine and beer list, too. Pop by for a couple of dishes in the evening – since chef Anthony Demetre co-owns the place, it’s a stellar line-up. READ MORE.
Details: 38-39 Coal Drops Yard, N1C 4DQ | Opening hours: Mon-Wed 8am-11.30pm, Thurs & Fri 8am-12am, Sat 10am-12am and Sun 10am-10.30pm | Average price of a drink: Vermouth ~£4, cocktails ~£9
This lofty bar and restaurant opened in London’s first purpose-built gymnasium hall back in 2015. And it worked out. Perched up on the mezzanine, the gold-hued Meister Bar serves up some of the most unusual cocktails in the area. Currently, the menu’s inspired by iconic works of art, so sip on liquid versions of Magritte’s Ceci n’est pas une pipe with mint chocolate-washed Laphroaig whisky, Portuguese liquor and pine; or the Gyotaku, an homage to Japanese fish prints with smoked salmon-infused aquavit, tarragon tonic, sherry and peat spray.
Address: King’s Boulevard, Kings Cross, N1C 4BU | Opening hours: Mon 5pm-12am, Tues & Wed 12pm-12am, Thurs-Sat 12pm-1am, Sun 12-7pm | Average price of a cocktail: £13
Chapel Down Gin Works
A canalside gin distillery set in an unusual, semi-circular building behind the cast iron pillars of a former gas works. It’s a new venture from the English wine growers Chapel Down, who are now infusing the skins of their grapes into craft gins and vodka. Naturally you can prop yourself up at the bar and order a couple of cocktails and G&Ts – or book in for one of their al fresco tastings and masterclasses.
Address: Goods Way, Kings Cross, N1C 4UR | Opening hours: Daily 12-11.30pm | Average price of a G&T: £9
Drink Shop Do
If you’ve ever fancied having a go at crafting Lionel Richie’s face out of a rich tea biscuit, this bar is for you. As well as a drinks list offering everything from cocktails and sharing cocktails, to shooters, beer and wine, they’ve got a week long schedule of activities – most of which are free – including a ‘Papier Mache Monster Mache’ and shaping superstars out of clay. They’ve also got a pretty sweet happy hour Monday-Friday, 4-7pm which sees £2.50 beers and cocktail jug specials, meaning if you drink wisely you’ll leave feeling pretty richie too.
Address: 9 Caledonian Road, N1 9DX | Opening hours: Mon-Thurs 10.30am-12am, Fri & Sat 10.30-2am, Sun 10.30am – 6pm | Average cocktail price: £8.50
You wouldn’t be blamed for imagining a bar called Spiritland to be a little sheet…You would however be wrong. Not only is it an undeniably handsome space – a retro-inspired mix of caramels and lime greens – it’s also home to a world-class, multi-million pound sound system, from you which can enjoy an all-week music-focused programme of talks, gigs, albums launches, and sets by world-renowned DJs (as well as the day to day playlist of handpicked instrumental). Somehow they still have time to focus on the food and drink, with an excellent all-day food offering spanning breakfast, weekend brunch, lunch and dinner, as well as a drinks menu full of softs, cocktails, sake, beer, wine, and….spirits.
Address: 9 – 10 Stable Street, N1C 4AB | Opening hours: Mon-Wed 8am-12am, Thurs-Fri 8am-1am, Sat 10am-1am, Sun 10am-10pm | Average cocktail price: £9
As the name suggests, these guys have got all the tekkers necessary to pick a great bottle of wine, constantly keeping their 200-strong wine-list fresh with the best grapes. You can order by the bottle, or there are plenty available by the glass, both of which you can enjoy alongside a few dishes from their daily-changing menu, mostly focused on British fare.
Address: 3 King’s Boulevard, Kings Cross, N1C 4BU | Opening hours: Mon-Fri 7.30am-11pm, Sat 10am-11pm, Sun 10am-10pm | Price of a glass of wine: £4-16
As a hotel bar in King’s Cross, the caveat here is that you might find yourself with a couple of businessmen for company.
But sometimes, it’s a good idea to follow suit.
Especially when they lead you into a very dimly lit, coal-black martini lounge where you can personalise your order not just with the gin or vodka of your choice, but your vermouth, too. There are five more playful variations on the martini if you’re not too partial to the original, as well as classic cocktails (the good kind: martinez, gimlets and gibsons).
Address: Great Northern Hotel, Pancras Road, N1C 4TB | Opening hours: Weekdays from 7am-late, weekends 8am-late | Average price of a cocktail: £14
Last Updated: 25th January 2021 | Main image: Anthracite
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