They truly are the movers and shakers of the drink scene.
And the class of 2017 are a pretty excellent bunch – so much so, in fact, that choosing between them would be almost impossible.
But we’ve had a go regardless; so, behold – in no particular order – our pick of the ten greatest new openings this year, from secretive speakeasies to a hotel with more bars than rooms…
That’s where you know you’ll get a good night
Dickie’s Bar | Mayfair
Catching sight of a dead rabbit behind the bar is, in most, cases, fairly off-putting. Catching sight of a Dead Rabbit bartender, however, is an altogether different story – considering the New York bar has been consistently showered with plaudits (including pole position in the World’s Best Bars list). So it’s no surprise that chef Richard Corrigan has drafted in former DR mixologist Gregory Buda to head up the suave bar attached to his Mayfair eatery…
Details: Open daily | 28 Upper Grosvenor Street, W1K 7EH | £££
The Racketeer | King’s Cross
Is it a cocktail bar? Is it a wine bar? No, it’s The Racketeer, flying in the face of traditional bar specs with its vast-ranging list of craft beers, small-producer wines and original boozy concoctions – some of which even mix and match in themselves, like the Penicillin In A Storm – with whiskey, ginger and a porter float. With its softly retro, cosy atmosphere, The Racketeer deservedly stands out in an up and coming – though heavily food-focussed – area, not least because of its secret walled garden…
Details: Open Mon-Sat | 105 King’s Cross Rd, WC1X 9LR | £
The Evans & Peel Pharmacy | Chiswick
The perfect place to get a gin with your tonic, this follow-up bar from London’s best-executed speakeasy, The Evans & Peel Detective Agency, is the definition of secretive. Head into the 1920s style apothecary shopfront, sweet talk the server behind the till a little, and watch as the store windows mist up to disguise your being bundled into the raucous bar behind, where they serve up yet more of their imaginatively-conceived concoctions.
Details: Open daily | 42 Devonshire Road, W4 2HD | £££
TT Liquor | Shoreditch
Finding yourself in this building a few decades ago would have been very unfortunate, considering it was once a Victorian police station. Find yourself there today however, and you’re very fortunate indeed – because the only stuff they’re locking up is your personal liquor supply, housed in vaults in the former overnight cells and poured into all manner of unusual concoctions, inspired by drinking trends through the ages.
Details: Open Wed-Sat | 17b Kingsland Road, E2 8AA | £££
Coupette | Bethnal Green
There’s a lot packed into this tiny Coupette. Not just another exposed-brick toting bar in East London, it sports a genuinely intimate atmosphere, where low-hanging lighting’s reflected by the coppery sheen of the bar made up of hundreds of 10 Franc coins. That’s no coincidence, because the drinks list here – curated by ex-Beaufort Bar head Chris Moore – has a strong Gallic influence, with cocktails inspired by French cultural “muses” and underappreciated inebriants like calvados and poiré…
Details: Open daily | 423 Bethnal Green Road, E2 0AN | ££
The Devil’s Darling | Moorgate
Any hotel that has three times as many bars than rooms must be doing something right in the drinks department – and the pair of bars that opened above whisky drinking den Black Rock this year don’t fail to please. The first floor Italianate cocktail den, The Devil’s Darling, is overlooked by a vast Renaissance-style mural behind the bar, from which only 3 cocktails are served daily – but take a perch there and you can pick the brains of your bartender, ask for something off-menu, and maybe even have a say in what’s playing on the turntable there.
Details: Open Mon-Sat | The Napoleon Hotel, 9 Christopher Street, EC2A 2BS | ££
Eve | Covent Garden
Sited in the basement of The Frog by Adam (no coincidence) Handling, Eve is a moodily-lit, stained-glass toting subterranean watering hole, where drinks are served like you’ve never seen them before. Take their White Russian, for example, which arrives in two parts; a frozen cube of Black Russian, onto which you pour a clarified White Russian (stirred up with maple syrup, split cream and Fernet Branca) to gradually shift the drink from one extreme to the other…
Details: Open daily | 35 Southampton Street, WC2E 7HE | £££
Scout | Shoreditch
Coming to you from Peg + Patriot
founder mixologist possible mad scientist Matt Whiley, Scout is a slick, Scandi-chic, zero-waste bar. Any leftover cocktail ingredients are magicked into bar snacks like fried vegetable skins with house seasoning; and pickled celeriac with truffle. And if you’re after something even more avant-garde than the drinks upstairs (which, just for context, include numbers like the Green Pea, which contains sorrel, egg white and smoke), you can head down to the 10-seater basement lab, where bar technicians test out new combinations in front of your very eyes.
Details: Open Mon-Sat evenings | 93 Great Eastern Street, EC2A 3HZ | ££
The Hill Station Bar | Tooting
Mountain-themed bars may not have hit their peak yet…
…but this truly minuscule spot tucked inside Tooting Broadway’s covered market could be a trend-setter. Decked out with Nepalese prayer flags, portraits of hiking heroes and a battered old truck-front for a bar, The Hill Station is an authentic-feeling replica of a respite stop halfway up Mt. Everest, only with cocktails and cheeseboards… the latter of which can be ordered by picking up the retro telephone by your seat.
Details: Open Tues-Sat evenings | Unit 14 Broadway Market, 29 Tooting High Street, SW17 0RJ | ££
The Blue Posts | Soho
Just making the 2017 cut by the skin of its teeth, The Blue Posts is the freshly opened bar coming to you from the Palomar team. It’s set in a 250 year old pub of the same name, and as you’d expect, it’s stunning; with muted wall colours, retro light fittings and a bevy of spruced up original features. And the good news is that there’s three times as much to go around, with the ground floor pub sandwiched between an intimate cocktail bar and an even more intimate chef’s table in the basement – due to open early next year.
Details: Open daily | 28 Rupert Street, W1D 6DJ | ££
Want to know who else made the nice list this year? Check our guide to 2017’s best new restaurants…