London’s Best Vodka Bars
What’s the best spirit to come out of Eastern Europe?
The answer is clear: vodka.
And there are a few bars in London that have taken it upon themselves to pour their hearts and souls into pouring the best in the capital. So join us on a tour around London’s best vodka bars…
Bob Bob Ricard | Soho
Being owned by a Russian restaurant magnate certainly helps when it comes to taking a bar’s vodka seriously, and the people at BBR certainly do. In fact, they serve it at precisely -18 degrees. You can get three different shots this way, ranging from their Russian Standard original to a number that’s been distilled eight times, and quartz filtered. If you’re feeling fancy, get it with caviar or oysters.
Details: Bob Bob Ricard | 1 Upper James Street, W1F 9DF
Samarkand | Fitzrovia
London’s preeminent (and only) Uzbek restaurant, Samarkand is also, coincidentally, one of London’s best vodka bars – laid out beneath their beautiful floral chandeliers, it guards an illuminated vodka cabinet within which there are several shelves of elegant crystal decanters filled with an array of infused vodkas. They’ve brewed everything from coffee, to bergamot, to bay leaf, to Sichuan pepper, to rosehip, to… the list goes on. You can get them straight, in cocktails, or paired with your meal.
Details: Samarkand | 33 Charlotte Street, W1T 1RR
69 Colebrooke Row | Islington
Tony Conigliaro’s groundbreaking ’50s-style cocktail spot became a groundbreaking cocktail spot because of the very un-’50s laboratory next door, in which the man himself creates all manner of boozy tinctures, including his homemade horseradish vodka. It permanently sits behind the bar, and goes into drinks like his Prairie Oyster, where it’s added to spherified tomato juice to create a faux ‘oyster’, among other things.
Details: The Bar With No Name | 69 Colebrooke Row, N1 8AA
Duke’s Bar | Mayfair
Duke’s is where, rather famously, the line “shaken, not stirred” was written by Ian Fleming. And Duke’s haven’t slowed down one bit with respect to their martini nous, serving what many consider to be the best on earth. Order one, and the rakish Italian barman Alessandro will wheel over the Martini trolley, resplendent with bottles of chilled vodkas (& gins), before giving you a crash-course in what they all are. He’ll then rinse the glass with house vermouth, give the rim a hint of Sicilian lemon peel, and pour away. And he’ll probably stir it. READ MORE
Details: Dukes Bar | DUKES Hotel, 35 St James’s Place, SW1A 1NY
Bar Polski | Holborn
This simple, sparsely furnished bar is essentially hidden down a Holborn alleyway. But if you can find it, they’ll happily remind you that vodka, Russia’s pride and joy, is actually Polish. And they have dozens of varieties of the (mostly Polish) stuff, from the “dry and interesting” to the “nice and sweet” to the “clean and clear”. And you can get a rather nice pierogi to with it.
Details: Bar Polski | 11 Little Turnstile, WC1V 7DX
Baltic Bar | Southwark
Another Polish affair, Baltic have two vodka menus; one is a list of over 60 bottles of ‘plain vodka’ coming from Poland, Russia, Sweden, New Zealand, the US, and more, which they’ll happily serve to you in a frozen glass – the other is a list of their own house infusions, with flavours ranging from sweet plum & chilli, to wormwood, to rose petal, to honey, to lemon, to herb & mint, and more.
Details: Baltic | 74 Blackfriars Road, SE1 8HA
In the mood for something a little more botanical? Peruse our guide to London’s best gin bars