The Green Bar at Hotel Café Royal reminds us of the colour of a potent drink – one that many-a-famous historical literary figure is thought to have indulged in – absinthe. This elegant bar is tucked away in the back of the hotel, and has its own absinthe fountain if you’d like a tipple. Oscar Wilde apparently once drank so much absinthe at Café Royal that he imagined himself in a field of tulips. If absinthe isn’t quite your thing, a selection of classic cocktails and small nibbles are also available.
Green Bar, Hotel Café Royal, 68 Regent Street, London, UK +44 207 406 3333
Ham Yard is in a little Soho street behind Piccadilly Circus. Although well hidden, it gets very busy on a Friday night. Ham Yard is so-called because of The Ham pub that was on this site in the 18th century. The area also has a lively history in terms of night clubs and music. Fast forward to today, and Ham Yard Hotel has become a modern and sophisticated space. Aside from a good selection of wines, the bar has an interesting cocktail menu. One example is the rhubarb rum punch, which mixes rum with slow-cooked spiced rhubarb and homemade spiced syrup.
Ham Yard Bar & Restaurant, Ham Yard Hotel, 1 Ham Yard, London, UK +44 203 642 1007
If you’re after a sophisticated drink, then look no further than HIX Champagne & Caviar Bar. The bar is inside Selfridges, so you can watch people spending a small fortune on handbags while you heartily drink champagne. Artwork from British artists, including Tracey Emin and Gary Webb, adorns the walls. The menu features small independent Champagne and sparkling wine producers, and sustainable caviar. There are many sparkling and classic cocktails to choose between, plus wine if you’re less of a champagne lover.
aqua spirit is five floors up and a welcome escape from the busy shopping streets around Oxford Circus. When the weather is good, it’s worth popping outside to the rooftop terrace for views over Regent Street. Inside is a striking circular bar brightened from above by a giant light installation. Cocktails include Japanese-inspired drinks, with ingredients such as yuzu, matcha green tea and sake. If you get hungry and want more than bar snacks, there are two restaurants next door – aqua kyoto (Japanese) and aqua nueva (Spanish).
Artesian was named the ‘World’s Best Bar’ in 2014 (by The World’s 50 Best Bars) and ‘Best International Cocktail Bar’ in the 2015 Spirited Awards. It therefore has an impressive pedigree in creative cocktail-making. Artesian is a sophisticated bar inside the Langham Hotel, with stylish curved leather sofas and oriental-themed lights and cabinets. Expect the unexpected with the new ‘Surrealism’ cocktail menu. Ylang ylang, carrot, artichoke, smoke and tonka all feature in unusual drink combinations. If that’s a little too much, you can stick with the more traditional Langham Martini.
Artesian, The Langham, 1C Portland Place, London, UK, +44 207 636 1000