London Bars

Wylde's Glass Half-full Guy, Keith Barker-Main, lays down his Spring picks

This season’s major cocktail 'crush' (in both senses of the word) has to be the bevvy of bars at Soho House’s supra-swanky City hotel, The NED. But as with Chiltern Firehouse and other high-end pap-magnets before it, scything through Tango-tan TOWIE trash, laying siege to its portals like vajazzled Vandals at the Sack of Rome, is JUST.TOO.TIRESOME. “Other groovy new bars are available,” says hardened stop-out Keith Barker-Main. Take these for instance:


If fashion goes in cycles, did 1970s sitcom 'The Good Life' - in which self-sufficient, rat-race drop-outs Tom and Barbara serve pea-pod wine and hempseed hooch to their snooty neighbours, The Leadbetters - inspire Matt (Peg + Patriot) Whiley’s zen ScandinAsian den? That’s ‘Scout’ as in foraging seashore, hedgerow and copse for the seasonal components of New Age, zero-waste, natural martinis that will amaze Margo of Surbiton in the unlikely event she goes slumming in Ho'ditch.


More of a ‘happening scene’ than a trad bar, Untitled channels Warhol’s 1960s Silver Factory. Its owner - thinking woman’s crumpet Tony (Bar Termini/ 69 Colebrooke Row) Conigliaro - is big on conceptualised cocktails. Tess and Vern’ up from Bolton might dismiss his far-out fixes as “bolloxy toss” but Dalston Dallesandro and Candy Darling are down with ‘Waif,’ ‘Satyr,’ ‘Violin’ and ‘Snow’: drinks so strong they’d blow off Andy’s wonky wig at hirsute hipster “all-my-own-hair” Tone’s latest gig,


This on-point 60s postmodern cellar was - circa backcombed beehives and Billy Fury - The PinStripe Club. BITD, the louche dive notoriously hosted Christine Keeler who, double-dating a Tory Minister and a Soviet naval attaché, inadvertently precipitated a lurid tabloid scandal. Dubbed ‘The Profumo Affair,’ it did for Harold Macmillan’s government. Snog seriously sexy puckers Queen’s Cup and Lime House Royal while you plot to bring down Calamity May and her piss-poor poodles.


Hidden behind Hoxton’s horniest offie - check out those stacked racks - stairs wend down to a dank Dickensian dungeon. In dimly lit dens that once held sundry lags and rouged slags, cop Ripper rinses at what was, in serial gut-slicer Jack’s day, olde Shoreditch nick. A briny pickling vinegar vodkatini and pastis, Chartreuse and vermouth minx, Le Chat Noir - are well worth doing time for at this Peaky Blinder baby bro’ to Bethnal Green’s Sun Tavern and Discount Suit Co off Petticoat Lane. 


“Bar Humbug” - as dipso Scrooge might nickname it - is a raucous rock-soundtracked hole-up that, monicker aside, has sod all to do with the Lewis Carroll theme that pervades Callooh Callay, downstairs, and owner Richard Wynne’s Islington bar, Little Bat. Doable daft-named drinks - Confidence, Contentment, Calm and Kindness - served with a side of cod philosophy, are the gospel according to a bar whose rock inspiration was presumably Chris Martin, still in thrall to Gwynnie’s Goopy guff before the irritating item consciously uncoupled.