The 10 Best New London Bars of 2019
2019 gave us a fair few reasons to drink.
Thankfully, it also gave us a fair few new places to do it. The newly voted World’s Best Bar of 2018 closed its doors and was reincarnated as Lyaness; an iconic 60 year-old whisky bar finally got its follow-up; and the glorious pop up cocktail and croquetas bar in an old pie & mash shop officially went permanent.
So here they are (in no particular order): our pick of the finest bars to have opened their doors in 2019…
Kwānt | Mayfair
When a bar breaks into the World’s 50 Best Bars list within 5 months of opening, you know it’s worth your attention. Kwant – an underground, retro oasis hidden beneath the recently revamped Mayfair restaurant Momo – is headed up by Erik Lorincz, the bartender who took The American Bar at The Savoy to #1 on that very same list, and kept it hovering in the top five throughout his eight year tenure. Now he’s achieving great things in this exotic hideaway, serving bold concoctions like the Heads & Tails, with Japanese toasted rice soda, mezcal, and vermouth made from beer… READ MORE
Details: Open daily | 5 Heddon Street, Mayfair, W1B 4BH | £££
Milroys of Spitalfields | Spitalfields
Milroy’s Soho is the oldest whisky merchant in the city, having opened back in 1964. And just like any good whisky, they’ve patiently waited for nearly 60 years for their next idea to mature – a beautiful, four storey townhouse in Spitalfields dedicated to the stuff. We’re talking a basement bar serving elegant cocktails; a ground-floor drinking den with no menu (just very knowledgeable bartenders); a first-floor members’ bar with exclusive drams and Cuban cigars; and a top floor tasting room for private events… READ MORE
Details: Open Mon-Sat | 76 Commercial Street, E1 6LY | £££
Retiring Room | Mayfair
The Retiring Room is named for the waiting rooms at India’s train stations.
And when it’s this good, you’ll actually be hoping for delays.
You’ll find it below the acclaimed Mayfair eatery, Bombay Bustle, decked out in glamorous jewel tones with art deco lighting. Appropriately, it’s a real retreat from the bustle outside, too – with intimate leather booths and decadent cocktails with everything from edible pearl garnishes to paan liqueur, a drink made from betel leaf (a plant representing auspicious beginnings in India). And it seems to have brought a pretty auspicious beginning here, too… READ MORE
Details: Open daily | 29 Maddox Street, W1S 2PA | £££
Tayer + Elementary | Shoreditch
Tayēr + Elementary is a bar of two halves.
One half is Tayēr. And it doesn’t take a detective to figure out what the other one’s called… in fact, it’s Elementary.
It’s in Old Street, and it comes to us from the dual partnership of Monica Berg (whose last bar was Oslo’s Himkok, No.19 on the World’s 50 Best Bars list) and Alex Kratena, whose last bar was London’s own Artesian, previous No.1 on the same list for four years running. So, to put it bluntly, they know how to mix a drink.
Details: Open Mon-Sat | 152 Old Street, EC1V 9BW | £££
Forza Wine | Peckham
Is it a bar? Is it a restaurant? Who has time to split hairs when you’re soaking up a Peckham sunset from the tenth floor, with a feast of frozen negronis, wines and Italian ‘drinking food’ before you. It’s the second permanent spot from the rambunctious, yet solidly dependable team behind Forza Win (a pizza, pasta and cocktail spot housed in a nearby repurposed cash and carry warehouse), and in the space of just a few months has become an instant classic in its own right. READ MORE
Details: Open Tue-Sun | 5th Floor, The Market, 133 Rye Lane, SE15 4ST | £££
Lyaness | Southbank
Ryan Chetiyawardana doesn’t just shake up cocktails. He shakes up his whole bars, too. After his iconic Southbank spot Dandelyan hit the heady heights of #1 in the World’s 50 Best Bars list last year, he immediately announced its forthcoming closure. After months of tweaking, experimentation, and a beautiful baby blue refurb, the place reopened as Lyaness – a glamorous temple to adventurous drinks. Not satisfied with regular, natural, readily available ingredients, Chetiyawardana (aka Mr Lyan) has actually developed his own flavours – including Purple Pineapple and Infinite Banana – to add to his concoctions. READ MORE
Details: Open daily | Sea Containers London, 20 Upper Ground, SE1 9PD | £££
The Jellied Eel | Walthamstow
Walthamstow’s L. Manze has been serving up the classic Cockney dish of pie, mash and liquor (a kind of green, herby gravy) since 1929.
And almost a century later, they’re introducing a slightly stronger liquor to their menu.
After a string of successful pop ups, two E17 locals now run a permanent bar in Manze’s, serving up cocktails and croquetas after restaurant hours in the shop’s beautiful Grade II listed surrounds… READ MORE
Details: Open Fri & Sat | L. Manze’s Pie & Mash Shop, 76 High Street, E17 7LD | ££
Gold Step | Shoreditch
Mezcal bars are like buses in this city. You wait for ages, and then three turn up at once. And if you’re doing it properly, you don’t need to tap out.
See, these bars are trying to steer away from the damaged reputation of tequila and mezcal as ‘shot’ drinks here in the UK, and instead highlight the wonderfully vast variety on offer, their welcome place in cocktails, and their hitherto under-appreciated role as a sophisticated sipping drink.
While Doña and Sin Gusano are (at least for now) pop ups, Gold Step is here to stay – it’s a colourful underground agave joint that you’ll find at the bottom of some other steps in Shoreditch stalwart, Dream Bags Jaguar Shoes… READ MORE
Details: Open daily | Beneath Dream Bags Jaguar Shoes, 32-36 Kingsland Road, E2 8DA | £££
Ticket Hall & Control Room | Soho
If you’re after a subterranean, Blitz era-themed cocktail bar with retro swing DJs, dancing, intimate booths and drinks served in bulldogs – all cloaked in a tally-ho, rose-tinted vintage charm – then this place is just the ticket.
It’s the follow-up to the wildly successful time-warping bar that is Cahoots, and has conveniently opened right opposite the original. Upstairs, you’ll find a daytime café and bar dressed up like a 1940s regional train station – but downstairs is where the foot-stomping revelry really begins… READ MORE
Details: Open Fri-Weds | 5 Kingly Street, W1B 5PF | £££
Peckham Cellars | Peckham
When it comes to Peckham Cellars, we’re sold.
This newly opened laid-back eatery and wine bar was set up by three long-term friends and locals, who together boast everywhere from Ottolenghi’s Rovi to Quo Vadis on their CVs.
In a cool, understated industrial space (that still manages to become more than a little romantic come evening), you can stop by for a glass of wine or two, with the Mediterranean-focused wine list handily split up into easy to understand flavour profiles. But they also have a menu of irresistible small plates on offer: dirty onion tortilla with chipotle mayo; or artichoke hearts with tarragon and white wine; all of which are yet to disappoint.
Details: Open daily | 125 Queen’s Road, Peckham, SE15 2ND | £££
Main image: Milroy’s Spitalfields
Fancy something to eat with that? Check out the best restaurants of 2019…