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The Big List: Top London cocktails to break Dry January

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Millions of people up and down the country are clinging on with varying degrees of legitimacy to the dog days of Dry January. We on the Life&Style desk, however, are already planning an epic night out, taking in some of London’s most august cocktail bars and trendy new venues. If you’ve had about as much of abstinence as you can take, read on.

1) Donovan’s Bar

If you want to break Dry January in style, head to Mayfair’s Brown’s Hotel, where you will find the inimitable Donovan’s bar. To truly push the boat out, once you settle into Salvatore Calabrese’s wonderland of fine alcohol, you could order Salvatore’s Legacy cocktail, priced at an extremely reasonable £5,500 and featuring some of the world’s rarest spirits and liqueurs, including 1788 Clos de Griffier Vieux Cognac, 1770 Kummel liqueur, c1860 Dubb Orange Liqueur and c1930 Angostura Bitters. 

2) Hakkasan

Chinese fine dining restaurant Hakkasan is offering a decadent Caviar Martini, its twist on a dirty martini, made with camomile-infused Cocchi Americano, mezcal, and a spoonful of luxurious Prunier Caviar, with a choice of Grey Goose vodka or Bombay Sapphire Premier Cru as a base. It can be yours for £45, and is a perfect accompaniment for Hakkasan’s famous Peking duck with Beluga caviar.

3) Nightjar

One of the undisputed best bars in the world, Nightjar is the perfect place to get back on the booze. The only signage outside the original bar near Old Street is a tiny brass plaque featuring the titular bird but downstairs is a subterranean slice of cocktail heaven. The cocktail list is 20 pages long and each one has been agonised over by the team of mixologists, who take thirty work incredibly seriously. We recommend The Name of the Samurai, made with Japanese whisky, sake, tea infusion, plum liqueur and orange blossom.

4) Baccarat Bar

An outing to Harrods is always fabulous, but sometimes wandering past all the expensive shiny things on shelves can feel a little repetitive. So ask a friendly security guard where the Baccarat Bar is, then wander into the basement to find a gorgeous venue kitted out in lots of red leather. It’s rather fancy. A new ‘through the lens’ cocktail range celebrates the art of photography; we particularly like the sound of the ‘Long Exposure’, a tasting flight of three cocktails, one warm, one tangy, one aromatic.

5) Velvet

The Corinthia is a very swishy place to go for dinner. We love Tom Kerridge’s flagship there, but here’s the secret: the after dinner drinks are the best. There’s a newish cocktail bar hidden away in the hotel called Velvet, which as an experience is as warm and comfy as lying in a pile of the luxurious material itself. There’s often live music, and the new menu, The Quote Book, has drinks inspired by icons. Drink the ‘Bored Child’ out of a carbon fibre car-shaped glass in ode to Elon Musk, for instance. Blimey.

6) Swift

Swift in Soho has quietly become the people’s favourite cocktail bar. It has beaten the competition to become that place your best pal, your trendy aunt and that clued-in person at work all book. It’s because it just is a nice place to go for drinks amid the frenetic streets of Soho, where around every corner there is another option. Book a table at the Soho branch, upstairs, and order the rhubarb sour with vodka, dry vermouth, rhubarb, lemon and bitters.

7) Lyaness

Awarded world’s best bar, it’d be remiss not to shout out Lyaness in our list of amazing places to get on it this February. Head guy Ryan Chetiyawardana – aka Mr Lyan, who puts his name into all the bars he runs (there’s also Silver Lyan and Super Lyan) has really led the charge on rethinking how we drink. Menus are like mood boards based around flavour, without complex words no one’s heard of, so you can choose what you drink more easily, and approachable staff explain the complex drinks in an easy-to-understand way. Try the shaky fist margarita for a punchy introduction.

8) Connaught Bar

Surveys tell us Brits are drinking less, but higher quality booze, and if this is your tack for February surely there’s no better place to raise a glass than The Connaught hotel’s bar, famously the home to the world’s best martini. Go for the crowd as much as the booze: it’s where impossibly glamorous porcelain-skinned West Londoners go to chew the fat on a Sunday afternoon. Go for a martini, of course, and have it served to you from a fabulously old school trolley.

9) Bar with Shapes for a Name

This uber cool late night cocktail bar in east London has more of a ‘going out’ vibe, and with a handful of places to dance nearby (Dalston Superstore being one) it can work as a decent precursor to a night on the tiles. There’s a funky upbeat playlist, hipster bar staff and some intimidatingly good cocktails. Their ‘thing’ is to bottle their drinks ahead of the night, which feels like a cop out at first, until you taste them. Try the intriguing Tipperary, with whisky, banana, martini rosso and chartreuse.

10) Guard’s Bar at OWO

Last but by no means least, why not head over to London’s newest luxury eating, drinking and sleeping emporium the Old War Office, where you can find the wonderfully traditional Guard’s Bar. Nestle into the red upholstered banquettes and order yourself a London Sling, the bar’s signature take on a Singapore Sling, made using 100kg of British cherries blended with gin and served over cherry ice.

For more unbeatable London food and drink stories, go to cityam.com

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