In this month’s bar list we pay homage to the old favourites, including the might of traditional bars frequented by legendary figures such as James Bond creator Ian Flemming, or even Charles Dickens. Soak up the history as you enjoy a tipple at one of these unmistakable London bars.
The term ‘American Bar’ refers to a bar serving mixed or ‘American’ style drinks, more commonly known as cocktails. As transatlantic travel became more popular in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries, many American Bars opened throughout London. The American Bar at The Savoy is the longest surviving of these bars and one of the most iconic cocktail bars in the world. It also happens to serve the best negroni in town.
The legendary Dukes Bar is internationally renowned for its famous martinis and personalised cocktails. Frequented by James Bond author Ian Fleming, the bar is said to be the inspiration for the classic line, ‘shaken, not stirred’.
At the heart of the Knightsbridge scene, the Blue Bar is a popular and exclusive top London celebrity hangout. The setting – as created by the late design guru David Collins – is every bit as luxe as you’d expect for a bar in a Knightsbridge hotel, with blue carried from the walls to the floors, and covering every chair and every menu.
The home of Soho restaurant Mash began life as the Regents Palace Hotel, which opened in 1915 as the biggest hotel in Europe. With marble staircases, richly embellished ceilings, and a domed “Rotunda Court”, it screamed luxury and offered bars, restaurants and a magnificent ballroom, the site of which is MASH today. By the 1960s, the Regent Palace had fallen into disrepute and the building was even threatened by demolition. Eventually, in 1998, Marco Pierre White’s Titanic restaurant took over the downstairs ballroom space and decorated it in the style of a cruise liner. But despite becoming a famed celebrity spot, that restaurant seemed to share a fate with its namesake. Fast forward some ten years, and Danish chain MASH took over the property, resorting its original art deco features and 1930s glamour.
Artesian is housed within Europe’s first grand hotel, the Langham. This remarkable lounge is named after the 360ft-deep artesian well under the hotel and specialises in exclusive rum creations. Even the ice is special – produced using the very latest technology, Artesian’s ice is purer, colder and with a higher density, making it last longer and your cocktails cooler.
Designed by David Collins, Claridge’s Bar serves an impeccable selection of rare and exceptional drinks. From the finest vintage champagnes to sought-after spirits and wines, this connoisseur’s collection represents the best of their kind. The hotel’s Fumoir bar, a cigar-lover’s paradise until the smoking ban, is another elegant escape hatch.
Actors, writers, artists and wits rub shoulders with royalty, bohemians and the film world in this, the most iconic of Soho watering holes. A fabulous and entertaining spot to raise a glass in London, the French House truly deserves its reputation as the best-known pub in the world’s naughtiest square mile. Its no music, no machines, no television and no mobile phones rule makes it a haven for conversationalists and a firm favourite among some of the best known names in showbusiness.
A must for lovers of London’s history, the walls of the Viaduct Tavern could tell a few stories! Originally built as a Victorian gin palace, The Viaduct Tavern is on the site of a debtors’ jail affiliated to Newgate Prison – but it’s a little more welcoming these days! The pub still serves an ever increasing variety of gins, and prides itself on spectacular G&Ts, all served with ‘block’ ice and tailored garnishes.
The George, or George Inn, is a Southwark pub dating back to the medieval period. Currently owned and leased by the National Trust, it is the only surviving galleried London coaching inn. The first map of Southwark (Duchy of Lancaster ca1543) clearly shows it marked as ‘Gorge’. The George was one of the many famous coaching inns in the days of Charles Dickens. Dickens in fact visited the George and referred to it in Little Dorrit.