Whether you’re doing Dry January, you’re sober-curious or you’ve decided to cut out alcohol altogether, these are the cool London bars and restaurants to have on your radar.
The Permit Room at Dishoom
Dishoom is a perennial favourite for anyone who fancies a taste of old Bombay style street food in the capital. And for those who want to wash their chilli chicken and gunpowder potatoes down with a really good cocktail, its Shoreditch outpost is the place to head, for there punters will find The Permit Room, a bar which riffs on those of Prohibition era Bombay. Should you be off the sauce now or for the long-term, do not be put off: it also has a fantastic Teetotal Tipples menu, where you will find the likes of the No-Permit Collins and the Teetotal Espresso Martini. All the fun. None of the ensuing hangover. Book it here.
You can always rely on a Caprice Holdings restaurant to deliver in the glamour stakes. Happily, 34 Mayfair very much matches up to expectation, from the exceptionally swish interior to the glitzy location to the elegant steak and fish grill. Everything is cooked simply and to perfection – and we even love the Art Deco vibes of the menu itself. Given the setting, there is no excuse for not having a cocktail to kick off proceedings – whether you’re abstaining from alcohol or not. The luxury mocktail menu is, like everything else here, exemplary: we adore the sound of the Why Be A Stubborn Mule (Seedlip Spice 94, oak moss, lime, ginger beer) as well as A Secret Garden (Seedlip Garden 108, lavender cordial, lemon). Book a table here.
The Library Bar at The Lanesborough
For sheer luxury, The Lanesborough at Hyde Park Corner is indubitably one of the capital’s most gloriously opulent hotels, and so it follows that its Library Bar should be cut from similar cloth. Cosy, wood-panelled and deeply inviting, for drinkers, it offers extraordinary choice, with some of its collection of cognacs dating to the 1770s (not for nothing does it call itself a ‘museum of spirits’). And yet, imbibing the harder stuff is not a prerequisite for revelling in cocktail hour here. It also offers a menu of concoctions that are entirely liquor-free, from the Genuine & Tonic (Seedlip Spice 94, saffron, iris and angelica found in the Everleaf Aperitif) to the silky soft Ruby Diamond (shaken with Aecorn Aromatic, egg yolk, cherry and cinnamon syrup and served in a ruby glass.) Book a table here.
The Hoxton, Southwark
The Hoxton’s Albie Bar is an all-day dining affair – the sort that actually does make you want to stay all day, starting with eggs on sourdough and going straight through to the American-style chicken in a bun. Thankfully, to make that all-day marathon stay somewhat less hazy, there is a brilliant range of non-alcoholic drinks on offer, from Aecorn’s beers to the delicious Ginish and a Martini Floreale. And we can confirm, there’s nothing of self-denial about anything on offer here. Book a table here.
This atmospheric and creative cocktail bar in Bethnal Green only opened its doors in 2017 but is already lauded as one of the finest, not just in the capital but in the world (it was voted twenty-third best in the world in the industry’s top awards). It prides itself on being a true Londoner but with a French accent, and we couldn’t recommend it more highly – whether you’re drinking or not. If the latter, its Baby Mule is exactly the thing for winter, while the Melon Cooler cannot be beaten on hot, hazy London summer days. Book a table here.
The creation of multi award-winning Ryan Chetiyawardana – otherwise known as Mr Lyan. ‘The World’s Most Awarded Bartender’ – Lyaness was bound to swiftly become a destination for all those with a penchant for a good cocktail. Happily, it does not disappoint, the unabashed geekery over ingredients paying dividends in the taste department – and that goes for the zero-proof options, too. We like the Three Spirit Livener, grass amazake, gentian and pine brew. Book a table here.
The Connaught Bar
Taking first place in the World’s 50 Best Bars for the second year running, drinkers know that they are in for a treat once they step onto the hallowed ground that is the legendary Connaught Bar. Whilst we do reserve special reverence for its Martini game, there’s no need to miss out if you’re not drinking; there are joyous yet alcohol-free concoctions, even including those that are good for your gut health (the Pietra is made using ginseng and bergamot kombucha and osmanthus honey cordial). Book a table here.
By Nancy Alsop
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