Behind an unmarked door, up some stairs and set over two storeys of a townhouse, you’ll find a super-sexy Parisian cocktail bar, with good dance music, gorgeous decor and a vibe that is super French and super cool. The French owners also run three of Paris’s best bars. The cocktails (most around ?10 each) are exquisite and unusual, and include vintage cocktails mixed from spirits dating back to the 50s and 70s – these cost an eye-watering ?120-?250. Turn up early, or book ahead (via email only, firstname.lastname@example.org) to be sure of a table.
• 13a Gerard Street, 020-7434 3559, experimentalcocktailclublondon.com, ?5 on the door after 11pm. Open 6pm-3am, Sun 6pm-midnight
Milk & Honey has been around for years and it still serves some of the best drinks in London; it takes the art of boozing very seriously indeed – every fruit juice is squeezed by hand, and ice in the members-only Red Room is chipped from a twice-frozen block of mineral water using an ice pick. Choose from punches, cups, cobblers, hot drinks and flips, fizzes and swizzles (from around ?8.50). The speakeasy vibe sees you through the heavy curtain and into a dark, New York-style of room with muffled jazz coming from somewhere. Although this is a pretty tight members’ bar, you’re able to get in before 11pm with a reservation. Cocktails are amazing, and if you’re a woman sick of being hit on in busy bars, you’re in safe hands. With Milk & Honey’s set of house rules, no man can pester you without you approaching them.
• 61 Poland Street, 020-7065 6840, mlkhny.com/london. Open to non-members Mon-Sat 6pm-11pm, phone to reserve a maximum two-hour booking
Open from 7am, this is the ultimate early morning drinking spot, plus their breakfasts are banging. It’s all dark wood and red leather, with a big long bar to sit at. Perfect for business, dates, or just hanging with your mates. Be sure to book one of the comfy chairs by the window if you’re just drinking, or, if the sun’s out and you’re quick, get a table outside. They have plenty of cocktails to choose from – the bloody marys are pretty damn good – or ask the barman to shake you something special.
• 69-71 Dean Street, 020-7434 1775, deanstreettownhouse.com. Open Mon-Thurs 7am-midnight, Fri 7am-1am, Sat 8am-1am, Sun 8am-midnight
Underneath Soho restaurant Hix is one of London’s coolest bars. With dim lighting, leather sofas, mirrors, an apothecary cocktail bar and free Twiglets (best bar snacks ever?!) you’ll want to stay in Mark’s Bar most of the evening so get comfy. There is a no-reservations policy, so get here early to grab a seat. Coming solo or your date’s late? Sit at the long sunken bar and get chatting to the bartenders. There’s a series of “early British libations” (around ?8.75-?11) including punches and Robert Burns’ Hunting Flask – Jameson whiskey infused with Kent redcurrants, ginger and citrus; a series called “London’s Golden Age” (?9.75-?11) featuring 1930s cocktails from London’s great hotels and bars; plus an “On the Continent and in the Colonies” series (?9.75-?13.50) – try the Pegu Club, named after an officers’ club in Burma, with gin, curacao, lime, Angostura and orange bitters.
• 66-70 Brewer Street, 020-7292 3518, hixsoho.co.uk. Open noon-1am
A bar for bartenders – it stands for London Academy of Bartenders – this has become a bit of an institution. LAB boasts a huge menu of world-renowned cocktails made by some of London’s finest. Head here for a party atmosphere and affordable drinks made well, plus with more than 100 to choose from (cocktails around ?7.50-?10) there has to be something that suits your taste, whether it’s the Banana Wacky Baccy (gin, lemon, banana liqueur, vanilla and mango sugars, Lagavulin single malt) or a Nutt Job (Frangelico and Chambord with lemon, raspberries and cranberry juice).
• 12 Old Compton Street, 020-7437 7820, labbaruk.com. Mon-Sat 4pm-midnight, Sun 4pm-10.30pm
Tatiana Mercer, blogger at Reviews by the website BarChick.com